On the Myth of Self-Sufficiency
Why does it feel shameful to admit we want romantic companionship?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the narrative of independence as it relates to the experience of being a single woman.
Specifically, the idea that it’s not a good look to want romantic companionship when you don’t have it.
Like when you’re super duper single. Like I am. Which is fun!
When you’re super duper single, you’re not supposed to look for a partner. It’s supposed to just sort of happen. Even when I’ve found an albeit ephemeral connection on a dating app, the sentiment expressed to me in wee hours is more I didn’t see you coming and less I’ve been looking for you.
I’ve learned that the hard way — I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that it’s not productive to Type-A the hell out of my personal life.
Trying to achieve a predetermined outcome of partnership makes me (everyone?) myopic. That’s how I got three years into a relationship and realized there was no soul, just an empty shell of a logical love.
Okay. So I can’t make a Gantt chart for dating. Fine. Romance is supposed to be serendipitous. I can be on board with that.
But I dislike the notion that romance cannot be a goal you set, or even a wish you make. And if it is a wish you make, you’re supposed to keep it secret.
You certainly don’t vocalize it.
Because if you do, you’re “desperate.”
And desperation is a cardinal sin.
You’re weak. Naive. Clingy. Far from liberated. Projecting, grasping, not bolstered by the self-satisfied knowledge that you are whole and happy on your own.
I AM whole and happy on my own! This is a special era in my life where I get to live just for me, and that’s genuinely awesome.
But I am not an island.
I am whole and happy, but I am not on my own. Not really.
I have companions, important people who add joy and meaning and richness to my life. They just aren’t romantic companions.
I’m talking about my female friends, of course. Those relationships are deep and beautiful and actively maintained. My friendships are, without doubt, the most important outlets for my energy. Some of my gal pals are partners for life.
So I’m not on my own. I’d be incredibly lonely if I were on my own. People matter — meaningful connection matters. I have that in spades.
But I also want romantic companionship. Not necessarily tomorrow, but I do want it in life.
Typing that makes me feel ashamed.
Or like I’m somehow less of a badass, independent, modern woman.
Why is that?
I don’t need a partner — this is not an expression of listless emotional flailing. My heart is full, not thirsty for a tall drink of water, any tall drink of water. I have no itch to scratch, no hole to fill.
I guess that’s my point. Expressing any desire for romantic companionship seems to reek of desperation, no matter how accurate that label might be.
But is it so worthy of dismissal, of judgement?
Why does identifying with a liberated millennial female narrative make me feel ashamed of wanting a specific version of human connection?