Last night, I held a holiday potluck with my friends from high school and college at my house to reconnect, catch up, and share the exciting stories of our current adventures. As guests gradually rolled in, along with the beer and the wine, our conversation turned more towards old school truth-or-dare and the drinking games we all hope we’ll grow tired of, but never quite do.
As we went around the table, each sharing pieces of our most embarrassing, most scandalous, and well, most entertaining moments in recent history - I noticed a very distinctive divide between the couples and the singles.
While the pairs stood or sat next to one another, sharing private conversations, and exchanging glances, the singles were busy mingling with the rest of the party (including my parents who joined in), and they were not being controlled or concerned by someone else. When it came time to answer the questions that sometimes don’t have the most flattering answers or do-a-little-dance to stir up some giggles - the couples refrained from participating and kept to themselves, in whatever alternate universe they were part of in my kitchen. I wasn’t invited and would have declined invitation, if I was.
And while I understand that to be in a successful partnership, you must always think of your counterpart – what irked me was the two friends with their boyfriends (one I’ve known for 13 years, another since day-one of college) – were not acting like themselves. They were guarded. Protective. Holding extremely back. Not being true to the women I know them to be. Hiding the parts of themselves that are so endearing, so powerful, so radiant.
To be frank – they were so censored.
Now – regardless of how hard we try or how much we hope or strive to relate to our lady-friends who are giddily in love or happily wed, there is always a difference in our experiences. And especially in our day-to-day. Though they may have been there before, walking in our single shoes, somehow- something changes when you get into a relationship. Priorities, along with viewpoints and schedules, gradually transform as the Mr becomes more prominent, and suddenly every word out of your gal pal’s mouth is about him. I know some coupled women have mastered the art of keeping themselves in tact, but it is a feat for anyone who tackles it. Believe me, I’ve done this countless times with countless men (which can be found in all the many pages of this blog) – but it is something I’m hoping to correct as the journey continues.
And because of that, because of my progress, because I’m recognizing varying actions and reactions, both in myself and in others – I have to wonder – will I become censored when I meet the next Mr? Or when Mr. Possibility possibly becomes Mr. Definite?
When two become one – does the one that we once were fade away? Do fragments of the supreme single ladies and the fabulous lives we lead while flying solo, become distant memories of who we once were and what we once did? When we accept a Facebook relationship request, when we agree to wear that little (or large) rock on our left hand, and when we sign our name on a dotted line, promising forever - where does our independence go?
And even more so, what about our charm? Our character? Our personality? Our humor? I mean…just who we are, period?
I haven’t been in a relationship since I started writing this blog or since I decided to admit to myself (and to the World Wide Web) that I was obsessed with finding a boyfriend - so I can’t say for sure that I won’t ever lose myself again in a relationship. But what I can say – is that when Mr. Possibility came along, I was more upfront, honest, and sincere than I have ever been with any man.
I laid out what I wanted, what I was doing, what was important, what meant something to me, what I would accept and what I wouldn’t – and I made no excuses. I admitted that I like to be the belle of the ball, I’m confident, but can be needy; I’m a giver, but I can be greedy; I believe in myself and don’t want to be questioned, but I still want to feel supported. And in return, he put all of his cards on the table, too. There was no beating around the bush, no role to play, no mask to put on, and in any social setting we’ve been in, I haven’t hid behind him, and I haven’t censored myself or shrunken my personality to fit into the crowd.
And guess what? I feel better about who I am, my friends are vocal about the fact that I’ve remained ballsy and true to me, and Mr. Possibility respects me….and still likes me. Well, at least, we’ll hope so, right?
After the couples left, all the single ladies sat around, sharing our most recent dating stories, complaining about the men who have not-a-clue what to do, and how we still have that hope for love – and I realized that for the first time, I didn’t envy my coupled friends. I didn’t want to be the lady who had a sub-par evening and rushed home to be with my man. I didn’t long to be the one at the end of the table, doting on my boyfriend instead of catching up with my friend who I hadn’t seen in months. I didn’t wish for a relationship or love or partnership.
Because right there, E, with her most surprising and sexy tales of men she’s allowed into her life and on the brink of a brilliant new chapter; R, with dreams and hopes of international love affairs and letting go of a man who never deserved her; and J, who appreciates being single, but just wishes she would meet one fling to show her having sex can be enjoyable – were honest, free, radiating…
…and uncensored by a man. By even the possibility of love. By being in a relationship. They were just themselves - and that’s the company I prefer over any duo, any love interest, or anyone. Because it is when you can be yourself, when you can show every tangled, tortured, and unattractive feature you have to another person, that you never run the risk of having to censor yourself in their presence. Instead, you just let it all hang out and they encourage you to keep going – just like E, R, and J.
And if we can just capture that mindset and make demands on ourselves to never lose that freedom of expression – we can find that same acceptance, that same admiration, that same companionship…when we trade in our single shoes for a pair of love.