There are many things about this world that I understand or, at least, pretend to; however, there is one aspect of life that I will never be able to comprehend—people shipping people together. Shipping is when two people, who are in a platonic relationship, are pressured by third party people to pursue romantic options. I recognize that human beings are nosy by nature, but that gives us no right whatsoever to interject ourselves into other people’s extremely personal business. From personal experience, I have discovered that shipping and speculating can lead to unnecessary tension and may even damage people’s chance of ending up together.
I recently started dating someone. We had been friends for about a year and a half prior, and during that period, our mutual friends secretly and publicly shipped us together. At first, their playful pushing was merely annoying, but as time went on, it became a bit infuriating and disheartening.
“You know who you should go with to the Winter Ball?” my friend constantly asked me last November.
I clenched my jaw and laughed. “No, I can’t go with him.”
“But…not even as a friend?”
I squirmed. “Uh, sure…maybe…as a friend.”
With that broken phrase, my friend’s face lit up as if I had shouted my innermost feelings out loud. This experience did not alter my friendship with my future boyfriend, but it created a subtle undercurrent of unspoken awkwardness because we both knew that people wanted us to go to a dance together. Knowing that our friends secretly talked and plotted behind our backs caused us to feel unnerved.
Casually or jokingly saying that two people would be “cute together” is acceptable, but shipping can easily cross so many personal and private lines. Last year, I received a text from my future boyfriend that altered my opinion of shipping forever. The text contained three terrifying and unexpected words. “I like you.” A minute-and-a-half later, another text followed. “Like, like-like.” I freaked out internally. I had only recently realized I had feelings for him, and I was not yet ready to tell him.
Five minutes later, I get another text from him. “Sorry, that was (friends who will remain nameless). They took my phone….”
Relief flooded over me, but anger soon followed. In those fleeting moments of ignorance, I had already reevaluated my entire life, weighed the pros and cons, and almost died of panic, twice. Because of this well-intentioned yet highly intrusive prank, I decided to repress my feelings. I could not handle the invasion of privacy and stress that shipping caused.
A few weeks later, another mutual friend of ours curiously asked me, “Would you ever date him?”
“What? No! I would never ever ever ever date him! No, not in a million years. We are too different, and it wouldn’t work out. Why would you even ask that! I can’t believe you would even think that! No, just no! No, thank you!” I fervently replied.
Well, we did end up dating (another story for another time), but shipping did not help our relationship; in my opinion, it hindered it. Relationships are an individual's most personal affair. They should not be viewed lightly. I know that people, who ship others together, typically mean well, yet sometimes the best thing one can do is allow life to run its course.
Also, there is always a chance that the two people, who are being shipped together, simply want to remain friends. Pushing them into a relationship is not helpful or kind. If people are content as friends, please, for the sake of all that is good and decent, respect their stance. Friendships can be just as potent and fulfilling as relationships; please do not be responsible for making a strong platonic bond awkward or uncomfortable.
There is nothing wrong with wishing that two people would start dating, but shipping is not the answer. Everyone should stop speculating about and shipping people together. It is cruel to push people together when they do not have feelings for each other, and it is just as unkind to ship people who do have feelings for each other. Also, it is unfair to ourselves if we spend all of our time shipping people. Love and relationships are very important to most people. We should not be wasting our time on other people’s relationships and feelings; we need to tend to our own hearts and let our friends tend to theirs.