I’ve always viewed relationships from their limitations, rather than as being advantageous.
Although I’ve never been above moping around about the house about the lack of a cute boy to a) spoon with, b) makeout with and c) hold hands with (also known as the Holy Trinity of Relationship Bonuses) this has never been enough for me to run out and buy a push-up bra and start shaving my legs in the ultimate bid for a boyfriend. My wheatbag, when heated properly, was a solid substitute. (Although, I have to admit, it was never very good at kissing back.)
My ideal relationship has always been hurried love affair that lasts a short while—a weekend, even, perhaps--and dissipates before the sun comes up on Monday morning. There are no harsh breakups, there are just circumstances that cause you to happily part ways, with fond memories in your mouth. Both parties pine after the other, maybe sending a letter back and forth, maybe a postcard, or even just cryptic packages in the mail with no note, except a tiny postscript containing only Xs and Os and a drawing of a dinosaur.
And while that sounds very idealistic, I’ve had a couple of relationships that fall into this category. The kind that movies are made of—heart throbbing, hand-holding, eye-gazing, laughing at each of the other’s jokes constantly, kissing passionately and trying to hold onto a moment before time robs you of it. (In Australia, I had a relationship just like this. I met Ronen at my hostel after accidentally hitting his car with a basketball in classic Jess fashion, and we went swimming together later that day. A huge wave crashed me into him, and our lips met—you can’t get much more romantic comedy cliché than that. There were walks on the beach, and glasses of wine, and books exchanged. There were even dolphins. But at the end of the two days, when he offered to travel up the coast with me for the next three weeks, I immediately said no. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my independence just for some hand-holding and aqueous mammals.)
And when I think back on the last three years of my life, three years that I spent (mainly) happy and (mostly) single, the list of things that I’ve accomplished that were only possible because I was single are overwhelming. If I had a boyfriend, would I have moved to Toronto? Would I have gone to Vanuatu? As much as I’d like to tell myself that it would have all been the same regardless, having a dedicated wheatbag for a partner allowed me to do all these things. I wouldn’t have moved across the country. I wouldn’t have traveled across the world. I wouldn’t have met all the amazing people I know today.
For the most part, my decisions have been completely independent and selfish for the last three years. And that’s the way I like them.
And that’s the way I’ve always envisioned my life. A future of completely independent and selfish decisions where no other parties are truly involved and/or subsequently hurt by whatever decisions I might make. I guess this is why I’ve never been that interested in marriage.
I’ve always thought that’s what relationships were all about—sacrificing your independence to be with another person.
And while that may be partially true, what I’m starting to realize is that maybe the difference comes when you truly want to be with someone. Because suddenly, it’s no longer sacrifices or limitations. Instead, maybe it’s a whole new set of possibilities.