Thursday, 21 November 2013

On the defensive

It rankles every time.

"I can just see you being so happy with someone."

The same phrase, always delivered with a note of longing in the voice, as if true happiness could not be achieved any other way.

This time, the call for my coupled happiness comes from a person wearing a ring of intent on one hand and holding the keys to a new, jointly owned flat in the other.

I let them finish, taking a moment before replying.

I sip my beer.

Normally this call for my coupled happiness would be positively bashed away, because being single is brilliant for a lot of reasons, but mostly for all the reasons being in a relationship is not.

Allowing anyone to think otherwise quickly results in a pitying look and the words, "don't worry, you'll find someone soon. It always happens when you least expect it. Let's see, who do we know?"

(Not, "Well, maybe you'll feel better about it tomorrow.")

But this time the call for my coupled happiness comes during a week when I haven't been very happy at all; a week when its felt like life would, if nothing else, just be a bit bloody easier if it was shared with someone else.

"But I am happy," I finally respond, lying through my defensive teeth. "It's just a different sort of happy. I've been extremely happy in relationships, and I've been extremely happy single. I know what's possible either way."

And, I stop myself from adding, this isn't a choice. 

The next day, clicking through page after page of potential places to call home, the adverts, the bare and furnished rooms, I think back to the call for my coupled happiness, and run the situation through in reverse.

"I can just see you being so happy on your own" I'd say, delivering the words with my head tilted to one side, a note of concern in my voice.

Perhaps the words would be received the morning after a huge argument, when the air's still thick with shared, temporary resentment.

Perhaps they'd push away any possibility that I might be right, that happiness is just a breakup away.

Perhaps they'd get defensive too.


Jo said...

Nicely written, however I hate to tell you that it gets worse as you get older. I've had people ask me what's wrong with me and if I'm afraid of dying alone. What really cracks me up, is that I know a lot of people that are completely miserable in their relationships.

Blonde said...

It's the stuff that we know is true and prods at something we thought we'd covered up with other stuff that really gets to us, isn't it?

It's such a minefield, commenting on people's personal situations - best left entirely alone unless you actually know what's going on inside their heads.

London-Lass said...

But it does seem such a shame ...


As Jo above^ above correctly stated, it does get worse the older the get. No matter your status. I'm with someone (the Chups), been with 'im for seven years now, got a house, blah, blah, blah, but that does not stop the whole probing on about when/if we're gonna be dropping sprogs (not on your nelly) and when we're gonna get hitched (I'll come back to you on that). It seems that folk arent satisfied until you've ticked all the boxes.

Well they can bog off is all I can say. And dont blame you for getting on the defensive. I've had peeps telling me that I must have kids - if only so I'd have someone to look after me when I get old. I can personally vouch for the fact that this is a load of bollox following the recent funeral of the Chups' granddad who was very much alone in his dotage and, whilst everyone had fond memories at his funeral, did they visit him when he was still alive (and I'm talking close relatives here, not friends)? Did they heckers.

And, if someone accuses the Chups of not `making an honest woman of me yet' I might very well deck them.

I have no solutions for you Jo - it's an age old problem that people but in where they're not wanted. And, whilst the generous types will `tut' and say they have your best interests at heart, I would say to them if they really truly did they would leave you alone to take your own path in life without the constant (and unwanted) `helpful advice'.

Anonymous said...

I think people just want others to replicate them. I'm married, no kids, can't have them but that's ok. Ish.

My single sister in law wastes no time in banging in about how great single life is (er, why are you on then?).

Colleagues of both me and my husband smilingly state that we "need" to have a baby.

In summary, most people can just FUCK OFF.

Anonymous said...

This post is amazingly written. Like something out of Bridget Jones' diary.

Am engaged, but don't go around telling others they would be happier if they were too! :\ I hate it when people tell others what they 'should' be doing at each stage of their lives. Read this post shortly before reading yours, on a very similar theme

Where I do get stuck though is when my single friends tell me "I really NEED someone/want to find someone etc etc". One of my friends in particular basically pines after that rosy relationship.

What I want to say is that they should make the most of being single while they are, because each situation has their pros and cons and I feel like they should "live in the moment" and enjoy the pros for now, but that sounds really empty and is usually received with something like "yeh you're right but I'm getting old and I want someone now to help me settle down". Frustratingly though, any suggestions I make of how to meet people (being set up with friends of friends, starting a new hobby, internet dating, speed dating, going on nights out, etc) are all met with "yeh but..". Gah!! How to help!?

Marcheline said...

Well, if it's any consolation, people get on other people's nerves about everything - not just being single.

I used to work at an opthalmologist's office, and after a half an hour of a patient rattling on and on to me about how miserable her children have made her life (during a computerized eye test), she turned to me and said, "Do you have children?"

I said, "No."

She said, "Well, that's just selfish."


I laughed it off and went on, because I've made it a practise not to tell off people that are older than dirt, but it really irked me for days.

Why do people always assume it's their right to fob off their life decisions on other people? Misery loves company?

In any case, you just keep on keeping on. If you ever meet anyone that really makes your socks roll up and down, you won't need anyone else to tell you about it. And if you're meant to live on your own, you'll figure that out by yourself, too.

Rock on.

Marika said...

The grass is always greener, as they say in the classics. I was single for a very long time before meeting my now hubby. I had lots of the comments similar to yours above, but I think people are consistently labouring under the misapprehension that you're mystifyingly only half a person when single, and won't be complete until you find that other half. What bollocks. You're complete and whole and wonderful just as you are. A partner can bring much to your life, that's true, but not having one doesn't rob you of anything you have right now. Our own happiness is completely each of our own responsibilities - another person can't manufacture that for us simply by being allocated a title. Everyone knows enough couples who had the big white wedding and the well timed kiddies and are miserable as hell, but are trapped by a mortgage and a baby and the crushing concern of what others will think to do anything about it.

If you are happy then just be happy!


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