Being Single Sucks, But We Don’t Want to Hear About It

a small blue arm chair with dark wooden armrests
Image by Ashley Van Haeften / CC BY

Today’s piece is a guest blog post from Fluffy, an academic in-training, who is studying organizational behavior in hopes of making the world a better place.

They previously contributed “I Was Treated as a Disease Vector: Why There Are So Few Gay Men in Pansexual Polyamory” to Poly.Land.

Fluffy’s regular blog is Eclectic Discourse (where pith goes to die; in-depth looks at awkward topics).

And check out what they wrote this time around for Poly.Land:

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I would be better at this if I had a romantic partner.

It’s a nasty thought that I’ve had many times before. I push it aside and continue to hammer at my writing project.

Keeping Unused Space Open

Ten months ago I wrote “Feeling Single Sucks.” In that piece, I discuss the experience of feeling single, in comparison to the reality of being single. I used a metaphor where one’s life becomes a room and the things that we fill it with the furnishings.

Friends, family, work, pets, hobbies and more all add to the decor. Some things overlap and work just fine. Other things are in opposite corners of the room.

The paradox of singleness is that we expect a person who does not want to be single to keep an open space in their room, in hopes of finding something to fill it. Likewise, we abhor open and unused space.

Meanwhile, we also admonish them for looking too hard or being willing to accept a piece of furniture that might mean reconfiguring the look of the rest of the room.

In all cases, the feeling of emptiness, of unused-but-available-prime-real-estate is pressing and arduous.

Searching, But Not Hunting, for the Perfect Armchair

In the ensuing time since I wrote that piece, I’ve continued to date and leave a small space in my living room, waiting until that perfect armchair comes along. You know the one. Comfortable and overstuffed, large enough to curl up in. While still small enough to be comfortable sitting up to do work. It won’t take up the whole room, but I might need to rearrange the other furniture to make it all make sense. I’ve been keeping an eye out on Amazon, the local furniture store, even craigslist (just in case), but nothing actually seems like it’ll fit the room.

And that hole in my room? It appears to be weirdly growing, despite the space taking up everything else staying the same. It’s like noticing a water spot when you can’t really do anything about it. You’ve called the landlord, and they’re coming out Monday to fix it. You just need to ignore it and get in on with your life, but every spare moment your eyes flit back to it. Has it gotten bigger? Smaller? Is it darker? Is that… mold?

Curiously, my search-but-not-hunt for one or more romantic partners (I’d adore a love seat or couch as much as a chair, I admit) has inspired a strange introspection. I think to when I was in past relationships; I compare, I look for similarities, I tally up what is reliable data against what is likely anecdote, and I compare it to my life now. I made an Excel sheet. (Yeah… really…)

A D-Class Superhero

As I wrote before, many things make being or feeling single harder. One of those is the absolute effect it has on all other aspects of our lives. I look at my past selves, and I see people who were, objectively, better at many things. They were better at writing; they were better at staying on schedule; they were better at not overextending metaphors and thereby ruining their usefulness.

In many ways being in romantic partnerships makes me a D-class superhero. I can talk to people I don’t know; I can schedule appointments that I dread; I can reliably meet deadlines; I can go to social engagements (with or without a partner) and feel comfortable in my skin. Did I mention I’m an introvert? For various reasons the reserves of energies I draw upon for these tasks and others are not only filled but overflowing only when I’m in romantic relationships.

And the cost of knowing this becomes my sanity. Every wayward moment I struggle to “dive into” my writing, or to contact those people I desperately need to call, I think about the fact that these tasks are objectively easier for me when I’m dating other people.

Feeling Single Sucks, But We Don’t Want to Hear About It

We don’t talk about this when we talk about romantic relationships. It’s not a sexy topic to point out that for some of us dating makes us objectively more capable of doing whatever it is we need to do. We admonish these people because they have not become fully self-actualized or some-such nonsense. We shame people starved for romantic touch and affection by their lack of ability to find steady partnerships to provide those.

We don’t want to hear about the difficulty of singleness because it forces us to weigh the impact of a partner-centric culture truthfully. We don’t want to recognize that this impact creates monsters, not only in toxic masculinity and the objectification and ownership of femininity but in the minds of those of us too enculturated to escape it but aware nonetheless.

In each of those “darker” thoughts that my mind drifts to, ever since I made that damned Excel sheet, there’s an implication there. A silent because.

I would be better at this if I had a romantic partner…

…because later they would hug and kiss me.

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