I don't date a lot. Partially because while I love men and find them charming and delightful, I also find them to be garbage. Partially because I don't like people in general very much a lot of the time. And partially because having a boyfriend, while a perfectly lovely thing, is a lot of work and requires time and energy, and is not something I want to do just for shits to bide my time.
But in the last few weeks I've gotten a lot of questions, predominantly from other women, about why it is that I am single and more importantly how it is possible that I could ever be happy in this condition. One such conversation went like this:
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
"So you don't ever want to get married?"
Another such conversation went like this:
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
"Do people ask you out?"
"And you say no to them??"
"If I'm not interested, yes."
"But do you say no to hot guys?"
"If I'm not interested."
"Do you tell them you have a boyfriend?"
"No. That'd be a lie."
"Wait so then what do you tell them?"
"I say no. I'm not interested."
"You just say, no? Even to hot guys??"
A third conversation:
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
"Do you want a boyfriend?"
"Why? Just to have one? No."
"Do guys like you more because you don't want a boyfriend?"
"I don't know."
"I bet guys like you even more."
"I don't know. It doesn't really matter."
"I wish I was like that. Guys must really like you."
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
"So what do you do? Like... on weekends and stuff?"
"Do you have a boyfriend yet?"
"I want you to get a boyfriend."
"I want to see you with a boyfriend. I want to experience what that's like."
"It'll be the same."
"But like, then we could talk about him."
Aside from being completely exhausting, this has all left me wondering why it is that we, as women, are so obsessed with the idea of having a boyfriend. So much so that we don't know what else to talk to each other about. So much so that we don't understand what else we might do for fun if we're not in a relationship. So much so that if we're not dating it might mean we will never find true love and live "the dream" of becoming A Wife. So much so that the idea of saying no to a date with a hot guy is unthinkable. So much so that the only reason not to want a boyfriend is to attract a boyfriend through some sort of reverse psychology.
Why? In my opinion, the worst part of not having a boyfriend is having to explain to people why and how I'm fine not having one.
And in large part, these same women tell horror stories about the guys they're dating. Today, for example, a woman told me all about how it isn't actually fun spending time with her boyfriend, but it's nice to have the option, and it's funny that the less she wants to see him, the more he wants to see her. "Does that mean I don't like him?" she wanted to know.
"I can't tell you whether or not you like him," I said, confused. "You're kind of the only person who would know that... But ideally, I think you want to be dating someone you like seeing."
"I like hanging out with him," she said quickly. "I mean, I like him, it's just like, once I'm actually with him it's like, ugh."
"Right," I said. "Cool."
The number of times I talk to women, friends and acquaintances alike, about the guys they're dating and ask what they like about them only to find they can't give me an answer is staggering. Several times I've gotten the answer, "what else would I do?" or "who else is there?" as though it's required to have a seat warmer until the One True Dick arrives. Many times the answer is sadly just, "he's nice to me," or sadder still "he likes me." It is very wonderful to be with someone who likes you and who is nice to you. But these should not be his only qualities, and they should not be your favorite things about him, because every human person deserves more than that. (except for nazis, but that is another matter for another time.)
"He wants to marry me, he says so all the time," said the woman today.
"Cool. Do you want to marry him?"
"He's like, obsessed about it now that I like, kind of don't care about spending time with him. Every time I'm like, I'd rather see my friends, he's like 'I can't wait to marry you.'"
"But like, I would rather hang out with my friends."
"But what does that mean, though?"
Why do we make this the priority in our lives? More important than following our own passions, more important than spending time with friends. Bigger than what we want or what we like is what the boyfriend might want or like. Will he like me if I do this? Will he not like me if I do that? And if we're so unfortunate, as I am, not to have a boyfriend, well. Then we must think about how we can best become a girl who boys will want. And we must think about what the future-not-yet-existing-but-still-more-important-than-me boyfriend might want or like.
I know we raise women on fairytales that tell them finding a prince leads to happily ever after. I know we market to women as though their biggest goal should be getting laid. I know society suggests in a variety of ways that a beautiful woman is the prize a man gets if he is successful-- and so our job is to grow up and be a worthwhile prize. And yet, everytime I encounter a woman who views herself this way, it makes me deeply sad. There a lot of things I want for myself and the other women in my life. Prizedom has never been one of them.
And while this way of thinking may seem antiquated, think of how many memes you see directed at women about finding men. Think about how many "inspirational quote" Instagram pages are really just littered with relationship advice. How many articles for women are about how to get him, how to fuck him, how to know if he's the one, how to know if he's cheating, how to know if he's thinking about marriage. There are now services for women to send themselves gifts every month just because they're single. Which... fine? I guess? But also... ???
And I want to be clear-- It's not that I don't believe in relationships.
I have a very love-hate thing going on with humans. I hate humans, largely, for the horrible ways they treat each other, the earth, animals, and themselves. I find it sad and alarming, and I say "People are trash" more times in a single day than I say just about any other sentence. But I also think the whole point of being alive is relationships with other people. Connecting with people and understanding them and sharing ideas and feelings and life things and helping each other to figure it out. This is my absolute favorite thing in the world, and it is why I write and it is why I make plays and it is why I love art. I just don't think it has to mean boyfriends. Friendships are relationships, families have relationships, colleagues are relationships. Every person in my life is another connection that needs my attention. In fact, even though I'm *GASP* single, the majority of the energy in my life goes into my relationships with the people around me whom I love. I work hard to make every person I have a relationship with know just how much I care about them. And I haven't perfected it. I'm not even close. But it is what I try to do, and it is what I care most about doing.
All relationships take work.
Having a boyfriend is not a hobby.
Not to mention the fact that I am a full person on my own. I do my own things, make my own things, want my own time, have my own friends. I love other people and I love being alone. I like naked dance parties and sleeping in the middle of the bed, and watching a shitty movie by myself and crying over Golden Girls re-runs when no one is home. I do not need a boyfriend to complete who I am, or what I'm about. None of my relationships are about filling a void. They're about being around people I love. Supporting each other and celebrating each other and enjoying the wholeness of who the other person is. No one is in my life for lack of something else to do. I choose people because I love them, because only they can bring exactly who they are and exactly who they are is what I want.
I am not at a loss for things to do. Not at a loss for who I am or what I like because I don't have a boyfriend to tell me what would make me most fuckable.
Ladies, it is beyond okay to be on your own. It doesn't mean something is wrong with you. It doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. The question isn't what will make him like you. The question is, do you like you?