I feel like I’m the only girl in the world who doesn’t want a boyfriend.
Or at least a boyfriend in the commonly accepted definition of the term. Out of every pair of glossed lips around me comes lamenting about – or for, or over – a boyfriend. The way I see it we need to redefine what we consider to be a “relationship.”
There’s someone in my life who very much so wants to be “together.” But this confuses me because, in most senses of the word, we are. We’re there for each other emotionally – we talk ad nauseam about anything and everything. We know each other’s fears, doubts and insecurities inside out. We spend time together. We have fun together. There’s love, and friendship, and intimacy, and adventure. But he wants more.
“The only thing you don’t have is ownership,” is my response.
And that’s how I feel. I mean the only thing that would change in being “together” is no longer having a right to be physical with other people. Now…sure, most people are probably thinking, “Well yeah, duh.” But to me that’s just, well, I don’t know, silly.
Guys. It’s just sex.
It’s just sex but it gets tied up with meaning so much more, especially as a girl. Sexual freedom means you don’t own me, all of me. Monogamy is confusing to me because the desire for it seems to stem from insecurity. Like, if I’m giving someone everything they need to feel good, why does it matter I (or he for that matter) am with other people as well?
Literally no one agrees with me besides my parents. My dad had six children with four different women and was never married to any of them. It isn’t an odd polygamist situation. And my dad wasn’t some slick, cheesy player who just slept around. He’s an awesome, intelligent, deep, emotional person, who just so happened to…love women. And he was – and is – a fantastic father. He managed to raise all of us kids as one big, unconventional, happy family. My mom and my sister’s mom became best friends because they had kids by the same guy. And it was great, and it was our version of normal.
My mom told me when she met my dad she knew he was dating other women. “He asked me to an art gallery once and I showed up and another woman was there. It was like he just figured everyone could be friends.” She told me she knew my dad was a great father, she’d seen him with all of his other kids. She wanted to be a mother, and she and my dad were good friends, dating for a while, and so she just asked him to be the father of her child.
I understand this is odd, or at least not the norm. And in full disclosure, no, I would not want to show up for a date and have another girl on the arm of my dude. But I feel like my parents sort of just…get it. They recognized that there are other ways you can make a family. There are other ways you can be in a relationship. They’re great friends to this day. Never lived with each other, never were married, it just worked.
And maybe none of this would be so significant to me if it didn’t seem that everyone in relationships and marriages are MISERABLE.
I mean think of how often throughout your day do you hear people bitching about their significant other?! It’s so commonplace that you see it parodied on like every form of media. The unhappy housewife, the husband who cheats, the “crazy” girlfriend, the douche-bag boyfriend. The jealousy, the nitpicking, the arguments, the defensiveness, the silent treatments, the dog houses, the ignored phone calls, the sneaking around, the lying, the deception, the hurt, the pain, the self-judgement. I mean, there’s good stuff always, yes, sure. But please point me to a happy married couple. I have never in my life met one.
So why haven’t we realized that maybe this outdated dating model doesn’t work for us anymore? I mean, marriage made a lot of sense in a certain period of time. You had to pair up for survival. And up until the women-in-the-workforce movement it made sense too. Someone had to earn a living for a household, and men were the only ones allowed to earn a living, and someone had to manage a household – back before tide to-go pens and take out. I mean it took a lot to keep a house in order. So you paired up out of necessity. Men and women needed each other in much different ways back then.
I read this article that explored why parents of millennials got divorced but their grandparents stayed together and it explained that in our grandparents’ age you got married with a sense of duty. You had to fill certain roles. Men really did bring home the bacon and women really did have to play housewife. And this worked. It wasn’t about love, and romance, and connection and compatibility as much as it was about doing a job.
Our parents got married with a similar idea of what the roles of “husband” and “wife” meant. But the world around our parents changed. Women started entering all sorts of parts of the workforce and started prioritizing a career over family life. Culture just changed. All of a sudden everyone looked around and saw that they were mismatched. Our gen is a little different. Now we understand that dating is almost exclusively about connection. It’s about finding someone you have fun with and can share things with. So there’s hope for us if we can redefine relationships.
I’m not in favor of swallowing this notion of dating and marriage and monogamy that was handed to me from a society centuries in the grave. This isn’t to say that I want to date multiple people at once, or that I never want to be in a committed relationship ever again in my life. What I’m offering is that we expand what it can mean to be “with” someone.
Here’s what I think…
In relationships you have “rights” and “responsibilities,” and you don’t get one without the other. I don’t have the “right” to get mad at your for not calling me at night without the “responsibility” of also calling you every night. I don’t have the “right” to get angry if another girl texts your phone without the “responsibility” of keeping my inbox flirt free. So we have the potential to alleviate almost all of the crap from relationships if we can just stand to give up a little bit of our “rights.” And think about it, how much do you really need the right to get mad? That seems like all you really get in a relationship…the right to get mad at someone. Think about how much of our own shit we’d have to learn to deal with – how much we would grow – if we felt we didn’t have the right to get mad at our significant other over every little thing that made us feel threatened or insecure.
I’ll play my own devil’s advocate here. Do I want to know that someone I love is spending time and being physically intimate with another girl? No, I can’t particularly say that I do. But that’s something I can not only get over, but can also learn to handle. The way someone feels about me doesn’t change when and if he sleeps with another girl.
And that’s kind of it. We’ve placed so much stock in physical monogamy that it’s almost like that’s what our relationships mean, just that we’re not fucking someone else. When I was in a committed situation with my boyfriend I said “there are so many things worse he could do to me then sleep with another girl,” and “I wouldn’t end a relationship if he cheated.” He did, and I didn’t. So I’m a living, breathing embodiment of my own doctrine. (To be fair, I wasn’t a golden, faithful angel either). But what did happen is he became distant. He took a lot of drugs. He wasn’t present. That hurt me. That started the beginning of the end.
Like I said. It’s just sex. And sex is fucking fantastic and wonderful and awesome and so much fun. So why have we positioned ourselves in this pigeon hole where our whole idea of a good relationship is literally centered on monogamy?
Anyway, I think I’m rambling. I was covering these bases with Best Friend 1 and 2 tonight and the topic naturally came up. They don’t agree with me, by the way. They want boyfriends. They want to be girlfriends. They want a long happy marriage and a ton of babies. They want a soulmate. And I feel like I have a soul mate. I just don’t understand why it has to have anything to do with my fucking vagina.