Six years in and for this serial monogonist, there are quite a few things I don't miss about being in a relationship. Here's ten of 'em,
1. Having to acquire good habits
Now before I get into this, it’s not like I’m some primitive swamp monster scooping my food off a vine leaf with a clawed fist, sniffing undies for a hygiene status update and pooping with the door open, but let’s face it, the woman I present to a new boyfriend indulges in a lot more upkeep than the chick I know and love. The gal I know has prickly legs from time to time. Occasionally, she doesn’t have a shower ALL DAY and has been known to lick a plate after a particularly scrummy meal. There I said it. It’s out there now.
However, when a bloke arrives on the scenes, an unwritten rule comes into play that states this plate-licking hair beast must be vanquished and a more ladylike avatar take her place. She does not belch or fart or poo but simply expels puffs of rose-scented vapour and lavender pellets that can be used as potpourri. But damn it, the human body is a biological machine and it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, prince or pauper, it’s gonna do what it’s gotta do but yet, us gals start our relationships pretending otherwise.
2. No more compromises
I’m not sure I’m ready for the level of compromise required to make a relationship work, to take someone else’s needs into account when I’m making decisions about my life. I’ve only just got what a big part of being with someone that is and about thirty seconds after, I realised, I’m not sure I’m up to it. Ma Osho’s dreams of me settling down with a nice Nigerian lawyer will have to go on hold because my singledom no longer feels like a holding pattern, the way things are for now, but how I want things for the foreseeable. I’ve got so many things I want to do and at the moment, a relationship, as fun as it may be would be a distraction.
Perhaps I’ve gotten too independent for my own good, or too selfish even, or perhaps I just have such clear ideas about what I want to do that accounting for some else in all of that is not an option because I’m too indent on the goals I’ve set myself. Probably it’s a little bit if all of those things
3. No more arguments
A shiver ran down my spine the other day as I thought of all those times I’ve been lying in bed, the bitter funk of an argument still in the air, lying back to back, not speaking to my partner, waiting for someone to cave, to apologise, to prick the bubble so the making up can begin but both too stubborn or hurt to so do, and I thought, I don’t miss that at all!
I can’t remember the last time I had an argument with someone. I don’t like them and I don’t miss them and being on my own means I get to swerve all those angry words, misunderstandings and reactive moments. Life is pretty tranquil when there’s just yourself to disagree with. "Do I want to watch Lost tonight?". "I don’t". "Actually, I think I do". "OK I’ll watch it". Argument over
4. No more meeting new sets of parents
I HATE meeting new parents. I hate that first trip out to the suburbs. Those first awkward hellos, and what-do-you-do’s, and James-told-us-so much-about-you’s and the desperately trying to be liked that you disguise with polite chatter and interest. Yuk. I would be happy if I never had to meet another set of parents in those circumstances again. And what must it be like for these poor parents who meet this parade of candidates their son or daughter is constantly bringing home, like a cat dumping a dead mouse on your door step, like, “Look what a brought you. You’re welcome” and they have to pretend that you’re the first partner they’ve ever met. No other existed before you. No mention of Melissa and that terribly messy break up or that horrible Mark you caught cheating. I went out with a guy who told me his parents were against inter-racial couples of which we were one and my first instinct was, Thank God! At least I don’t have to meet them!
5. Introducing them to my family
The only thing worse than having to meet their family, knowing, from the minute they meet you they’re evaluating everything about you, is, introducing a new partner to my family and friends. Because I have had 0% success at selecting the right person, my poor family have had to meet countless contestants over the years. My mum used to have a birthday meal in early October and for about three years straight, I brought a different guy each time. And bless Ma Osho, she always smiled politely, asked them about themselves as if there was a remote chance she would ever see him again. I don’t missed putting anyone through that
6. Pestered for sex
I’m not sure but I think I prefer no sex to being pestered for sex when I’m not interested but I’m not sure so let’s make this one a maybe, in case I turn out to be totally wrong!
7. Partners trying to make you into what they want you to be
I know sometimes it’s hard to watch your partner change from the person you met into someone else but that’s life. I’ve had boyfriends who’ve taken an unnatural interest in how much I eat. I don’t know if this has happened to anyone else but I’ve had guys practically snatch biscuits from me claiming to be concerned for my health when really they’re just worried that they’re going to end up with a fat girlfriend. And what happened to loving me for my sparkling personality?
Boyfriends have as much right to say something about my weight as I do about their hair loss. After one boyf thought it appropriate to comment I said I’d make a deal with him, that I wouldn’t get fat if he didn’t go bald. We broke up so I never found out how that one would have played out. Maybe that’s why it ended. He was starting to see his expanding forehead and knew he wouldn’t be able to make good on the deal.
8. Dealing with another person’s insecurities
Having to weather the storm of other people’s insecurities and indeed, have my buttons pushed so that mine come out too is tough. There’s no one better at letting you know what you’re uptight about than your partner. It’s like they’re under your skin and it’s soooo uncomfortable. More often than not, rather than deal with the issue, we fire it back at each other which leads to… arguments! Like I said, the single life is a very tranquil one.
9. Dealing with my own jealousy
It’s been a while so I hope it’s not as acute as it was, but I definitely suffer from jealousy so it’s nice not to have to worry about that. “Who was he with?”, “Who’s that skinny bitch in all these photos from your work drinks?” “There was a long, blond hair on the lapel of your jacket. Explain”. Being jealous turns you into a CSI investigator, picking at every detail forensically to ascertain if, indeed the suspect has been dipping his wick where he oughtn’t. Our jealousy is almost boring in its predictability because you know, logically it makes no sense but often, when we succumb to it, we feel powerless to stop it and its resultant actions. "I need to look through his phone. I have probable cause!"
10. Breaking up
Sometimes, it’s been a calm, “this isn’t working” and sometimes, it’s been a full on wailing, screaming “and don’t come back!” but either way, it’s rarely pleasant. I know in an ideal world, one should never expect to experience them but let’s be honest, if most adults have between two and five serious relationship in their lives, you don’t have to be Steve Hawking to work out that means a handful of break ups. I’ve cried too many tears over something that wasn’t meant to be and I certain don’t miss that – at all.
I’ve been single for nearly six years and at first, it was miserable, largely because I wanted nothing more than to get back into that cosy nest of coupledom. I saw my friends, either already in or embarking on new relationships and I wanted to be a part of that set. But as time went on and I started to reassess my past based on new insights, I saw that much of what I didn't like in previous relationships was, by and large, down to me and that racing into another one would recreate all those same circumstances again unless something changed. Oh, the guy might be called something different next time, and the parents might be lovely and not Ukip voters and the arguments less frequent but essentially, I was squaring up for recreating the same deal.
The very act of attracting and embarking on a union with someone who isn’t going to treat you as you’d like is an act of creation that I needed to take responsibility for. I saw that my previous relationships weren't circumstances foisted upon me, but situations I had actively created and that, as the common denominator in all of it, the thing that probably needed to change was me.
Perhaps all those failed unions were a (very challenging) training program, a chance for me to see where I’ve made mistakes, needed to grow and open up to some other possibility and that, with patience, listening, observing the messages I’m given, learning, trusting my intuition and knowing that I don’t need a new person in my life to be fulfilled, I can attract something that fits me and him, that works and where we willingly and unflinchingly are able to share with each other who we are, farts and all.
To unchartered seas….
And here's all my previous posts on relationships:
Men Have Penises, Women Like Mars - I did a quick twitter survey on relationship. This is what I got
Desperately Seeking A King - I categorise potential partners into three groups
Importance of Being A Queen - And then do the same for us chicas
Change The Magnet - About attracting new things into our lives
All the Single Ladies - My month of dating at the Edinburgh Fringe festival
Top Ten Tips For Luuuurve - Self explanatory innit
The Book of Love - I review four dating books - I learned a shitload from them