It's the dreaded question all millennials will hear during family reunions of all shapes and sizes: Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? Or, my personal favorite variation that's slightly more passive-aggressive: Don't you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?! And my answer is always nope.
Still, I can't help but notice the pitying or judgemental looks that come after my answer, as if distant relatives are simultaneously judging me for being alone and assuming that I must secretly hate myself.
Well, now they don't have to wonder anymore. I'm great!
I'm not saying this to vent some kind of anger to kind-meaning people in my life who are just genuinely curious and interested in my relationships. Not at all, I'm just saying that for those who think I must be devastated to be "alone," I'm not!
In fact, I would argue that I'm almost better off than a lot of the couples I know. And not even for the stereotypical freedom that accompanies not having a ball and chain. But I am happy to be on my own because now my identity is in no way related to someone else.
I'm not described to those around me as so and so's girlfriend... I'm just me!
Situations I've just described at uncomfortable parties, or the fact that our first thought when we see a girl eating alone at a restaurant is that she got stood up, or even the perpetual joke of becoming an "old maid" indicate something seriously wrong with how we perceive singlehood.
No, this isn't coming from a place of bitterness that I haven't been swept off my feet by prince charming. This is prompted by the realization that getting to live my life with no one to answer to except myself has helped me define who I am and has made me ready for the relationship that I want and the person I know is good for me.
And you know what? Even if, let's say 10 years from now I'm still single, that will be OK too! My life is rich and fulfilled because I'm not alone even though I don't have a boyfriend; I have friends and family who surround me, and most of all, I'm not afraid to live in my own headspace and appreciate my own mind-body.
Just like most facets of our capitalist society, we live with a mentality of consumption. So, naturally, we see our relationships in the same light: what can we get from this other person, what can we take, how can we consume their essence to benefit ourselves? But the truth is, we were never meant to exert this kind of control or utilization over someone we love.
Single people, you are no more defined by your singlehood than you would be by your title of spouse/significant other.
You are defined by who you individually are. And we've got to start seeing that as enough! And if you are in a relationship, I can't stress enough the importance of spending time by yourself. Go out to eat alone, see a movie by yourself (that way you won't have to share popcorn), or even just take a drive around town alone.
You need a healthy space to cultivate your own thoughts or ideas so that when you return to your person, you can become complements to each other, not pieces to an incomplete puzzle.