Love Kindly But Love Boldly

My freshman year roommate (and best friend ever since) A, never wanted to get married. Instead of holy matrimony, she wanted to move to Italy to be a plastic surgeon and adopt a herd of children. (No really, she used to say she wanted eight!). But she quickly found out medicine wasn’t for her, and then she met this guy M, while doing an overseas school of business program in China — and something shifted.

Or really, everything. I knew from the moment she Skyped me to tell me about him – her cheeks flushing red (and no, not only due to the intensity of the Chinese July sun) that she was rather smitten with this new dude. It was still several months until I was introduced to him, but when I was, I couldn’t have created a more perfect or nicer guy for my best friend to be with.

This past weekend, she married that man on a lovely fall night in North Carolina. And I was honored to be a bridesmaid.

I couldn’t tell you what I loved the most — seeing someone I love literally glowing from the rehearsal to the reception, or seeing her new husband’s face as she cascaded down the aisle. Maybe it was the laughter from her friends and family or getting to know the other bridesmaids who have their own stories with her, and their own moments when they knew she’d marry M.

It could have been unexpectedly catching the bouquet (!!) or crying my eyes out when she danced with her dad.

Or when at the end of a great wedding weekend, they decided to have their guests cast Chinese wish lanterns into the sky instead of throwing rice, blowing bubbles or making a fluorescent path with sparklers.

It was probably all of those things mixed into one loving memory of this special, transforming time in A’s life — but the thing that stood out the most and kept me thinking, were the words of her priest during the ceremony. Though I’m not Catholic, I enjoyed experiencing a true, devout wedding and in those heels, appreciated a chance to get to sit down, too. As he was blessing the couple and giving them advice, he said five little words that held so much meaning:

“Love kindly — but love boldly.”

It seemed simple enough hearing it from the second pew, watching M and A share cute cryptic glances and holding hands as the church witnessed their promise to each other. But when I thought of my past relationships on my early flight back to NYC to avoid Sandy and rescue Lucy, it was clear that while I’ve most certainly loved kindly — I can’t say I’ve ever truly loved boldly.

Sure, I’ve fallen for a guy who was more wrong than right, who challenged me in a way that wasn’t healthy or conducive to anything longer than a torrid affair. I’ve thought I’ve loved someone for who they were, only to figure out it was the vision of what I thought they could be or what I could make them into that really fascinated and captivated me. I’ve loved what I’ve wanted more than what I’ve had, I’ve given third chances after declaring the second was enough. I’ve promised and willed myself to stop loving someone who wasn’t good, but given into the lust that argued he was. I’ve bent over backwards and forward, sideways and in circles to be what someone wanted. I’ve given someone everything they’d ever need without demanding much in return.

If there’s anything that I’ve excelled at in my relationships so far, it’s being a nice girl. A loyal, thoughtful girlfriend who knows how to please and well, to pleasure. But in most cases, I’ve forgotten about myself and what’s important to me while playing my part. I’ve also not pursued men who make me a better person, instead I’ve chased guys who I aimed to make into better men.

And that — that isn’t the beginning to a story that ends with kissing-the-bride. That isn’t loving boldly. That’s giving away your power and really, it’s not doing anything but making a guy far too comfortable to appreciate what he has.

Loving boldly means that you speak up when something doesn’t sit well with you. It means you don’t accept laziness or a complacent attitude. It means that being unavailable is a total dealbreaker. It means that you seek someone who wants to grow in his life, in his career, in his heart, in his mind — and with you. It means that you don’t let someone walk all over you or what you believe, but you’re with someone who may think differently enough to give you a new perspective. Loving boldly means listening to the other person and not just for the cue words you need to check off an imaginary check list, but you really hear what they tell you and what they promise. And then, you  watch to see if it happens — and if it doesn’t, loving boldly means challenging them to do what they say they will. It means that you lift your partner up without making yourself feel less worthy, it means you show them how great they can be without sacrificing how great you really are. Loving boldly means standing by your man, sure — but while standing your ground, too.

But what it really means to be ready for such a love is when you’ve found a way to love yourself boldly. For all the things you are and all those things you’re definitely not. For those flaws and those features, those dreams you wished and you found, and those that you had to let yourself let go of. For the curves that are beautiful and yours, for the men you were tough enough to leave because they didn’t deserve you. For all of the things that have rocked your confidence and made it wiser. For those chances you took that made you soar and the words you’ve been strong enough to speak.

Loving kindly is easy — it’s the way most approach everyone from strangers to dearest friends. But loving boldly — yourself and the person you decide to be with — is harder. It takes more practice. It takes much more patience. It probably produces more fights and tears than what we’d prefer to stomach.

But love is kind and it’s pure. It doesn’t boast and it doesn’t delight in evils. But it’s the boldness of love that makes it protective, trustworthy and hopeful. Because really, the boldest move of all is love. 

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Between the Me and the We

Right now, I’m sitting in a room that isn’t mine. I’m not paying the rent here. I didn’t buy the bedding I’m under or the lamp I’m using to keep a light. I’ve never worn the clothes hanging in the closet or read the books on the bookshelf across the room. I’m not in the photos and I didn’t visit the places that represent the artwork and treasures that decorate this space. My jacket isn’t hanging on the hook on the bedroom door and I didn’t pick out the window treatment.

This place doesn’t belong to me but it will be the place I come home to for the next three weeks. And once he comes back from his overseas excursion, Mr. Possibility will join me, here, at his apartment nearly 40 minutes away from my old brownstone. The inconvenience of a gap in between leases was lessened by his generous offer and though I usually prefer a bed all to myself, unless it is a California King, I can share his Queen with him for a short period, without much complaint. Or really any complaint at all.

I’ve never really lived with anyone before, though I’ve freelanced a few articles about the topic – something that’s interesting about the life of a writer, if you’re a good one, you can pen a piece on anything and sound intelligent with some research and interviewing. The most amount of consecutive time I’ve spent with a man under the same roof was a week-and-half with Mr. Idea, in a similar situation where I had to wait for the move-in date of my last apartment in college. This time period came at a more inconvenient time – within the first three weeks we knew each other – and truth be told,  it probably is the reason things got as serious and as comfortable as quickly as they did. I wouldn’t say it defined our relationship, but it definitely changed its course.

But Mr. Possibility and I have known each other longer. We’re better friends (and more than that). He won’t be here the whole time I will be and like adults, we’re respectful of one another’s need for personal space. Like him, I have a lot of things and probably far more than I actually need, but to keep him from tripping over my everything, I narrowed down what was necessary to a medium-sized suitcase, a bag of shoes, my laptop, and my purse. These things are neatly piled in the corner of his room, with a few dresses that tend to wrinkle hanging in his closet.

I was careful not to impose, as I already feel like I’m imposing by living rent-free for three weeks in a space that’s already small enough to begin with. I was invited and he was well-informed that I would officially transition from my old location to his today. I stopped by the grocery store, I unpacked what I felt I needed on top of my luggage, and left a few things in the bathroom – not too much, but enough to easily function day-to-day.

And yet, as I have many times before, I showered in his shower, used his toothpaste on a toothbrush he gave me, and tucked myself into his bed, something felt odd. While I know for a fact I’m no where close to wanting to be married, I thought about what a strange shift it will be when I stop labeling things as “his” and as “mine” and start thinking in terms of “ours” with whoever that “he” will be.

I’m a girly girl by nature and would never deny my admiration of all things soft, beautiful, and feminine, but unlike some of my friends, I haven’t picked out my dream engagement ring. I don’t know (or really care) about the colors I’ll use in my wedding. I haven’t Googled venues or flowers or anything of the sort. The closest I’ve come to thinking of my own wedding is flipping through engagement and wedding photos on Facebook when they pop up on my feed. But while I’ve never given much thought my wedding, I think I’ve given less thought to marriage – the reality of happily ever after.

After the glitz and the glam, comes the time when cohabitation stops becoming something you debate with your friends on if it’ll ruin your relationship, and it just becomes life. There is no more wondering if you’re imposing or having separate sleeping arrangements (unless you prefer, of course. Or if you can afford a two bedroom between two people in Manhattan). Suitcases are not used as a temporary dresser and shoes are no longer picked on how many outfits they go with, but the whole collection is displayed and stored. Apart from traveling or emergencies – you stop spending the night alone and while you may not opt for joint banking accounts, money is combined in some fashion to make ends meet.

I know all of these things should probably sound exciting and comforting to me – they don’t. Not now. Sure, I would always have someone to come home to, someone who would listen to me, someone to support and cherish me all of my days, all my lifelong. Finding The One is something all women talk about or at the very least think about, regardless if they care to admit it, instead of dreaming up this fantasy – they’d be better off to think of what life looks like with a partner. Sometimes it is cramped and complicated and finding a balance between developing your personal identity while creating a vibrant relationship is a beam you’ll teeter on continuously. Even my parents who have been married for 25 years, struggle with finding a happy medium.

One day, the reality of marriage will become what I crave and feel ready for – but today, I like the idea of visiting more than moving in. And if I’m going to be on vacation in the land of Mr. Possibility until my new humble abode is ready for me, I’ll allow myself to spread my things about just a bit. But not too much.

Not yet – I need to have some more books I’ve read, journeys and pictures I’ve taken, memories I’ve made, shoes I’ve bought, and stories I’ve written that only belong to me, before I can even think of belonging to someone else. Before I can transition from the me to the we.

For Better or For Worst

On this day, 25 years ago, my wonderful parents with names that rhyme promised for better or for worse, until death should they part, to support and honor one another, all the days of their lives. My mother made sure the word “obey” was omitted from their vows, as she’d never agree to do such a crazy thing, and really, my dad would never ask her to.

Nevertheless, when it has been the best of times and the worse of times, when there have been little reason to honor the other person, and when support simply was not enough – my parents have still held true to the promise they made at a tiny chapel, on top of a snowy hill a few days before St. Valentine’s arrival. As far back as I can remember, my dad has stopped in the middle of sentences to ask whoever he was talking to “Isn’t she the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?” while gazing toward her. And my mom, even with her relentless independence and boldness, blushes when she is surprised with her favorite flower or a hidden note underneath her morning coffee. Together, with a little help from the heavens, they created me and they’ve always said that while we didn’t always have the best of everything, they raised me with the very thing that makes us the richest of all:

Love.

Once I reached the age where I realized my parents weren’t just authorities and a support system who were there to tell me what to do, what not to do, and encourage each aspiration – I started noticing their displays of affection. And as embarrassing as it is, I became jealous of what they had. Maybe even more difficult to admit – during college when men arrived and exited with ease from my heart and my bed, I started getting so frustrated around my parents, that I’d have to leave the room to keep myself from crying.

I never rained on their happily-ever-after parade and I never said anything about my envy, but I know they could see it. Before returning to school after a break, my mom would sometimes say: “Don’t worry, sweetie. When the time and person is right, you’ll find a relationship like your dad and I have. I just know it! I promise!”

But what if I don’t?

As much as I would like to stay in never-never land where everything works out just as it should, where love is always returned as strongly as it is given, and marriages actually last until one of their dying days – I do live in the real world. More specifically – I live in Manhattan. While my friends, the Southern belles are in a knock-off stiletto race to the altar, my Northern sophisticates are running just as quickly in the opposite direction. And then there’s me, the daughter of a Northern firefighter and a Southern astrologer, a transplant from North Carolina living in the Big Apple…somewhere between desiring commitment and fearing it.

There are nights when New York is unforgivingly cold, when work has exhausted me to the point of no return, and when I see two lovebirds flying through the subway on my ride home that I long for someone. And that thirst for a warm body to hold me close and clear my head from a bad day can overtake any positive, any success, any anything in my life. I’ll spend 24-hours completely depressed, feeling unattractive, and even consider texting an old flame simply for the attention.

But lately, especially with this journey and with a new sense of self in my single shoes, that feeling hasn’t been as difficult to overcome. If I listen to my heart when it isn’t drenched in temporary loneliness, I know it isn’t at a point where meeting or dating Mr. Right is a priority. And not because of bruises or scrapes, rips or tears from men who have captured it before – but to a lack of desire in finding it. Those moments I have where I really want to be in a relationship, where I want someone to kiss and hold, someone to tell me I’m beyond beautiful, if I take a step back, I realize that commitment isn’t something I truly want.  Or at least a commitment to another person that takes me off the market and moved off of Solo Lane.

However – this may make me selfish and a double-dipper into fate and having the power to choose – but, I want to know that my mom is right. I want to be assured and promised that I will one day get married. That my husband and I will beat the divorce statistics, no matter how high they may rise, and that the love I find will be more than I could ever imagine or hope for. I don’t want to know his name, where he is right now, or how I will meet him – but I want to know the love my parents share and have cultivated isn’t an anomaly. That it is possible, it is reachable, it is…destined…for me.

But if I’m not ready – and maybe even when I am – is there reason to worry?

I could search endlessly through any type of dating medium there is, I could place pressure on myself, I could look at couples from a far and long for what they have. I could spend my days of freedom, of living the selfishly single life, wondering if I will meet the right person. Praying that I am, in fact, meant for that kind of love. I could think of reasons why I’m not good enough, why I don’t deserve an enduring romance, why love always seems to disappoint or pass me by.

Or I could just live. I could be happy for all of those people – including my parents who are currently sailing the Caribbean – who are blessed to not only find love, but brave to fight for the flame they ignited so many (or so little) years ago. I could be hopeful that though I’m not committed to being committed, I have already made a lifelong commitment that’ll I’ll never break:

A vow that in good times and in bad, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, I will love and cherish, myself.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is making Valentine’s Day more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.

A Toast to My Ladies

Much like when I moved to New York, when I went away to college – I didn’t really know anyone. Sure, I stayed in-state, so I knew of a handful of classmates who attended the same university, but no one who was in my core group of friends. I was probably more afraid of traveling two hours away from home than I was about moving 12 hours to the city.

As an overachiever, I landed myself on the Leadership & Service floor, where I was surrounded by others who went above-and-beyond in college (or those who just knew it was a nice dorm to stay in and somehow were accepted). The 40 or so of us called ourselves “L3” (for the residence hall name and floor number) and traveled in packs…everywhere. To the gym, to the parties, to the quad, and to the classes we all had together – and within those dozens, out of luck (and a bit of fate) – I met the two women who would define, shape, and share my college tenure.

A, was my first roommate. I’m an only child (technically I have a half-brother, but I don’t really know him), so going away for school was the first time I ever had to share my space. Fortunately, A was quite easy to live with, we shared the same sleeping/eating routines, and well – we became the very best of friends right from the get-go. My first memory of her is linking arms, skipping down the main strip in our college town, and giggling about how we were going to our first fraternity party. It wouldn’t be our last time frolicking about campus like we ruled the world–she’d go on to be an ambassador for our school, while I’d be high-up in the school newspaper and eventually, join a sorority, and attend more Greek parties than I’d like to admit.

Four rooms down from A and I, lived L – a girl who when I initially saw her, was instantly jealous. To this day, I still think she is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever laid eyes on. Her skin is flawless, her body has always been in tip-top shape (even when she doesn’t try), and she knows how to dress. Truth be told, before meeting L – I didn’t even wear “real bras”, but rather, sports bras because I was rather uncomfortable with my bigger beauties. While they’ve shrunk since then (I lost the freshman 15 instead of gaining it), I’ve remained a loyal customer at Victoria’s Secret ever since, thanks to L. Together, we went through some of the most difficult periods anyone can experience: my father’s illness, the passing of her mother, countless boyfriends (and lovers), and maintaining a long-distance friendship when we’d both go other places.

These women, while vastly different, gave me most of what I needed in the three-and-a-half years I attended college. When they met me, I was overly indulged in my love-addiction-ness, and they both said: “Linds, why are you so worried about this? We’re so young; we have all the time in the world. Ya know, I don’t even know if I want to get married!” A and L are very independent, like me, and had such large dreams for themselves, such high ambitions for where’d they be and what they wanted to do that relationships were completely off of their mind. This was a far-fetched idea for someone like me, who lived, breathed, and obsessed about love.

At the time, I was dumbfounded that anyone could ever truly not have the desire to get married (I’ve since changed my mind), but what’s more ironic is that A and L had more boyfriends and longer relationships than I did in college. They didn’t freak out too badly about them, but if you count up my time flying solo and their time – mine is much higher.

And now, L is in the army and engaged (I’ll be the MOH!), and A is on a four-month all-around-the-world vacation with the man I’m convinced she’ll marry. As for me, I’m single. Scratch that – happily single.

Isn’t it funny how the tables turn?

When senior year rolled around and I couldn’t stop talking about moving to New York, breaking up with Mr. Idea, and starting my writing career – they were in love with their boyfriends and wondering when they’d finally get that ring. When A came to visit me for fashion week in September, we even spent a few hours on Diamond Way, where I took notes about what size, style, and cut she’d like. And when L was given one phone call during boot camp, we spent the majority of the time discussing whether or not the “feeling” that her boyfriend would propose over Christmas meant anything. Well, since he’s her fiancée now, her gut was psychic. (Isn’t it always?)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for both of them and I actually like the guys they’ve picked as life partners – which if you know either of my friendships with these ladies, is quite the miracle. Us girls are pickier about the men our friends date, then we are about the ones we partner up with, right?

But with A and L being currently unreachable by text or phone call, I’ve realized how true it is that like life and love, friendships are in stages and cycles, too. Instead of being the one who is overly concerned with the man in her life, I’ve now become the bouncing board for my friends who are. Instead of crying and getting all sorts of upset about the Guy-of-Friday, I’m trying to help my friends get into the dating scene. And maybe even stranger, I’m growing closer and closer to other gals (the single ones), and further away from A and L.

Like any relationship that is meant to be – I’m sure when we actually get to spend some time together again, it will be like no time passed at all and our banter will flow the same, but there will be a major difference. And that’s me.

Sometimes I worry about the fact that this journey is literally changing me. The way I approach things, the way I respond, the way I think, and perhaps even the way I feel towards certain areas of my life, primarily love, continues to transform. I can’t help but wonder, what if those who have known me forever, start to wonder who the hell they’re talking to and don’t even recognize the Lindsay they once knew?

I’d like to think that even with my growth and maturity, I’m still the hopeful woman who believes there is a Mr. Right out there for me – it’s just now, he isn’t my primary concern. While I may not be able to relate to having the feeling of ‘just knowing’ or really crave it, I’m thrilled for those who have. And when L (and soon, A, I’m sure) transcends down to ‘I do’ with a man – I trust she knows ‘I am’ here for her, just as much as he is, if not more.

So, here’s to my ladies: to L and to A and my new friends (on and offline), regardless if you’re single or taken, married, widowed, or engaged, old or young, bitter or hopeful, addicted or uninterested in love – let’s stand by each other, hand and hand or click by click, through thick and thin, the princes and the frogs – and know that regardless of where this crazy journey takes us or where we end up, that we have one constant that never changes: the power of friendship. Let’s accept each other for where we are in our lives, where we’re going, and what we’re doing – even if we’ve never experienced or chosen it for ourselves. After all, we are each other’s soulmates more so than any man could be, anyways.

And with this toast, I hope L and A see that instead of sailing around the dance floor in a big white dress in front of a fleet of bachelorettes, I’d rather dance on tables during fleet week with some lonely sailors.

I hope they’ll understand. And something tells me…they will.

Ring Around the Rosy, Pocket Full of Bologna

I would be blatantly lying if I said I didn’t want to get married.

Like many women (and men, for that fact), I dream of the day when I get to express my love for Mr. Right in front of everyone who is near and dear to me. I think of my first apartment with my hubby and how together, we’ll dress it up into something worth living in, even if we don’t have a ton of money. And of course, like little girls who long for princes, I cut out a wedding dress picture out of an old Time magazine that I loved…and still have that clipping today.

I really don’t think it is wrong to want to be married or to find your partner or to desire that once-in-a-lifetime love. But what I find scary and a little bit intimidating…is how quickly that “time” in my life is coming up. Sure, I’m single (and learning to love it) – but more likely than not, I’ll probably be married before I’m 30.

In those times when I’m down on myself or feeling ugly or when its super cold and I really want to snuggle up to someone, I wonder “Why are all my friends in serious relationships, engaged, or married?” And then being obsessive and addicted to the internet, I stalk Facebook and scan through wedding picture after engagement picture after kissy-face picture, and become even more depressed.

But recently (even with progress, we have our off days), as I was figuring out how I was going to make it through and to the six weddings I’m invited to next year without feeling like a complete NYC cat lady, questions came bubbling up in my head like the champagne I anticipated drowning myself in:

Are you really ready to get married? Is that really what you want right now? And why is it that you think a marriage will make you feel better about yourself and happy?

Yes, I’m admittedly jealous of those who have found their partners – but I really do have such a privilege to be single in the city I adore, without having to worry about planning a wedding or asking someone else what they think before I make a decision. As I’ve said before, sometimes a date with freedom is better than any date a man could take me on.

So many people and especially my single girlfriends (like me) seem to believe that once you find that incredible person we all long for, that everything else just makes sense. Everything falls into place. Bad thoughts go away, worries subside, and blissful happiness follows wherever you go. This person, in their infinite wonderfulness completes your life.

Well, I’d like to think that I complete myself.

Sure, I want someone to make love to, share similar goals and interests with, and travel with, and I’m sure I’ll have it – but emotionally, shouldn’t I be enough? Does a ring around my finger, or my rosy, and thinking that “I do” solves all problems, give me a pocket full of bologna?

The whole idea of marriage and what it means and who is worthy of it or not has caused so much controversy. Yes, it’s a sacred and precious thing that too many people enter in lightly, but it’s not the end-all-be-all to our lives. There are so many things in this life that are important – our health, our happiness, our careers, our friendships, our adventures, our children, our relationship with ourselves, and while those things may involve a partner, the partner doesn’t make those things worth having or developing.

What does a ring have to do with it all really? Why is it so important? Why are some of my friends so obsessed with getting the ring and getting married, that it’s all they talk about? And why are we so worried about until-death-do-we-part so early in life?

Why do we automatically look on a man’s hand to see if he’s married when we find him attractive? Or when we see a pretty, tad bit older, womanwithout a ring, we wonder why? Is the ring around the finger really a symbol of completion? Or is it just the representation that you’ve found love, but the rest of you is still intact and prospering?

So, really all this worrying and searching and wondering if my “prince” will come along is wasteful.

Maybe everyone has already known this, but it’s something I’m finally realizing. My expectations for marriage, for this lustful union, have been way too unrealistic. Marriage isn’t a pain killer, but a nice upper and stabilizer for when the going gets tough or the good gets better. My wedding won’t start my happily after, but rather, just the first day in a new segment of my life. If I change my last name (which may be difficult for me to do because I love it so much), it doesn’t change who I am, where I’ve come from, or what I learned. Getting married doesn’t make me lose my identity of being an obsessive, worrying freak of nature who happens to be loving, fun, and kind, too – it just adds someone who gets to spend the rest of his life putting up with me (and vice versa).

One day I’ll put on the white dress and I’ll walk towards the man I want to share my life with, and I’m sure it’ll be nothing like I’ve dreamt or expected it to be. It’ll be most likely be even more than any imagination could conjure. But until I meet someone who comes close to fulfilling that part of my life – I’m not going to focus on it. I’m not going to worry or fear or wonder or place pressure. I’ll be happy for my friends and gladly celebrate their romance, without feeling the need to drink excessively (although, I probably will since it’s free!).

Because no matter how old I am, where I am in my life, or who is the person I marry – at the end of the day, I’m still me. I’m still full of flaws and beauty, hope and disappointments, inspiration and sadness. Just as love addiction isn’t going to be the largest part of me, marriage won’t be either. It just serves as an addition to my story and is no where near the final chapter.

I don’t want to get caught up in the ring-around-the-rosy, never ending cycle of wondering if he’s out there or if marriage is meant for me or if I need to be tamed. I don’t want to be part of the spinning web of doubt and envy, before someone tells me to drop all hands and settle down. I don’t want to dance in circles; I want to dance on tables.

I don’t want to be defined by marriage by a ring or by a bouquet of posies; I want to be defined by myself.

Can’t Tame This Tigar

As much as I’m a love-addict, sometimes if I think about the seriousness behind marriage –I feel like I’m going to throw up.

Given, I haven’t met someone who I have sincerely thought I would spend the rest of my life with (without any reservations, at least), but when I think of happily-ever-after, until-death-do-we-part, when your balls and my boobs sag – I feel intense anxiety.

When you find that special someone or you enter into a long-term relationship –you ultimately have to change who you are somewhat. Not necessarily your personality or actions or day-to-day doings, but your lifestyle changes when you have to consider someone else into the mix. “I” becomes “we” and Friday night’s question isn’t “Where’s happy hour?” but rather “What are you in the mood to do, dear?” Yes, you have me-time or girl-time – but when you say “I do” or accept a relationship request on Facebook, you sign (or click) away a part of your life.

A friend of mine, B, recently wrote to me and said “I’m starting to think that maybe I’m not meant to be tamed. I’m not willing to change who I am for a man, and I shouldn’t have to. I love being able to do what I want, when I want. I don’t have to let anybody know where I am, or call somebody before I do something, and I don’t have to think about questions like ‘Will we spend this holiday with your family or mine?’

Tamed? To be in a healthy, loving, and committed relationship, does that mean you’re tamed? Is the reason it’s called “settling down” is because you literally settle down? After receiving this message from B, I decided to poll readers and friends about being “tamed” and how it relates to being in a relationship. (And sorry, I didn’t ask Miley Cyrus).

Here are the responses I received:

Single

“I feel like it should and it shouldn’t, ya know? Should because relationship is commitment, but shouldn’t because the reason someone wants a relationship with you is because you’re you.” –N

“No you’re only more tame in social situations because you don’t have to flirt, but in the bedroom, you must be super wild.” –S

“Once you’re in a long-term relationship, then you have someone else to consider so I suppose it does tame your behavior.” –S

“Being in a relationship doesn’t really have to mean that you are ‘tamed.’ I think a lot of it has to do with your personality and the personality of the person you are in a relationship with, as well as the dynamics of the relationship…Quite frankly, if you find the right person, you can do all the things you love and just simply have a partner in it.” -A

“No. I act just as I always do regardless if I’m in a relationship or not. If I’m not acting like myself, then I need to get out of the relationship.” –E

“I’ve found in most cases yes, but I’m waiting for a relationship where you still love and care about the other person (and vice versa) and they let you do whatever makes you happy.” -D

Taken (Married or in a relationship)

“Tamed? Did you need a trainer or tamer? No. Being in a stable relationship may make you more secure to embrace your wild side and explore more facets of yourself.” –P

“If ‘tamed’ means that you stop dancing on bars, then yes. But I’ve gone out more with my boyfriend than I ever would if I was alone. We go out every Monday and Wednesday for trivia night usually every Friday and Saturday for darts.” –A

“Well, you learn to do things differently. You do the things they want to do and how they want to do it. Just for the sake of keeping the peace.” –L

“It can. My boyfriend knows what my dreams are and what I want to accomplish, and he’s willing to let me run wild, as long as he can be part of it.” –S

“I do think you have to become tame in order for your relationship to work. I guess tamed is a strange word for it because you have to be yourself but you want to make the other person happy, so you don’t even think about that part of it, if it’s truly a relationship that you want.” –E

“I would say that I am a lot less reserved now that I’m in a serious and committed relationship because I feel like I can be as crazy as I can possibly be within moral bounds, and I don’t have to fear messing things up. I still have the freedom to do whatever I want, but what I want in a lot of aspects has changed.” -F

“Ohhhhhh no!  Here’s my philosophy: I wanted to marry him, so I could REALLY go hog wild….but just with him.” -J

So, you do have to be tamed (or maybe not), but you still do all that you want (but do things their way to keep the peace), you don’t dance on tables, but you should be incredibly ridiculous in the bedroom, make your partner part of your adventures (but make sure they love you for who you are) – but all of it, of course, depends on the relationship and the person you’re in a relationship with.

Quite contradictory right?

B highlights what’s considered a perk of being single: the ability to be completely and totally selfish. And I’ll be the first (along with all of you other single ladies who are addicted to love or not, I’m sure) that sometimes, not having to answer to anyone or anything or shape my plans around someone else’s schedule or desires is wonderful. I almost always get to do exactly what I want, when I want to do it, and my money, for the most part, is for me.

A pro of being a single gal is being able to sincerely focus on yourself, to run untamed and free (regardless if you act wild or not) and explore all of the things your curiosity sparks. I truly, 100 percent agree that by being single for longer (as in not getting married super early), you allow yourself a lot of time to grow and develop without having to consider who is laying next to you.

But most of us do want someone to share our lives with –tamed or untamed –doing it their way or our way or a way you create together. Eventually, we will have discussions about what to do, where we want to do it, and how to go about it with our partner.

So really, it’s not necessarily about being tamed. It’s more about learning how to compromise and figuring out what it is we’re willing to change and what we’re not about our lives or ourselves for another person. Then, the task is making sure the person you’re in a relationship with is okay with that.

But until that day, until I finish clearing my head of self-hating and love-obsessing thoughts, I will relish, just like B, in being selfishly single. In eating cupcakes at midnight, taking up my entire bed, painting my toenails while eating pudding, spending an hour at the grocery store and leaving with nothing, taking random trips because I can, and walking around my apartment in heels, a face mask, and drinking red wine singing along to old Backstreet Boys songs.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be “tamed” by my own definition of the word (submissive and obedient, like a dog), but I may be willing to share my cupcake. And maybe a sip of my wine. And especially if he can somewhat sing Shape of My Heart.”