The Difficulties of Being Single vs. the Difficulties of Being in a Long-Term Monogamous Relationship

Single: The Unseemliness of the Internet Date

Being single can elicit a lot of despair. A normal person with normal amounts of charisma and social ability cannot just walk into a bar and happen upon a relationship when he or she desires to do so. Finding a relationship post-college is an arduous and often humiliating process that involves many strategies, the majority of which require the user to subject him or herself to uncomfortable and what some might say are unseemly situations.

Perhaps the most unseemly of these situations is the internet date. The whole process – from the initial online “flirts” to the moment you first meet and know that there is no way that you’ll be seeing this person again – is usually something you force yourself through, the whole time knowing “internet dating” is theoretically below your standard code of behavior while at the same time recognizing that you’re bowing to the pressure of loneliness and, functionally, breaking your standard code of behavior, thus becoming “one who internet dates.” If you’re honest with yourself, you must then grudgingly accept this new identity with embarrassment, shame, etc., and proceed to look down upon the person with whom you’re on the date (and vice versa), because you both are now in the same club (“those that internet date”), and that club is a club with which it is shameful to be associated.

Long-Term Monogamous Relationship: The Less-Than-Ideal Nature of Monotony

Those in long-term monogamous relationships do not need any more to deal with the unseemliness of the internet date – it is no longer a necessary social ritual. Sex, the comfort of another, and emotional support are, in many relationships, readily available without the necessity of money or elaborate mating displays, and this is maybe one of the most attractive reasons for ‘settling down.’

But after some time – perhaps six months, perhaps a year, perhaps, even, two years, the presence of a partner can feel much less exciting than it used to, and the thought of spending time with another person or some fantasy being might become a very compelling one. But being in a long-term monogamous relationship requires a sort of sacrifice and that sacrifice is one of romantic contact with anyone other than your partner. And when your partner feels less exciting, and the thought of one outside the relationship becomes more exciting, what’s left is a feeling of being trapped, indefinitely (as the goal of long-term monogamous relationships is to stay together forever, not some limited time span), in a less than ideal situation that will never be as exciting as you might perceive an encounter with someone else.

“Amazed by how even the pool of potential prospects seems unsatisfactory.”

Single: An Unclear and What Some Might Say Terrifying Idea of How Long You’re Going to be (on the Dark Side of) Single

But if not love or a genuine, positive companionship, the loneliness and the resistance to putting oneself back on the dating market and the development of dependence and the sincere belief that one’s life would probably be incomprehensible without the other often keeps people bound. Because being single can be lonely and full of excruciating moments such as the following: waking up and realizing that all you’re going to do today is eat breakfast, get dressed, go to work, eat lunch, come home, eat a Hot Pocket or whatever, look at the internet, and go to sleep, the whole time feeling acutely aware of how far away a romantic interaction feels; days without prospects that stretch into remorseless weeks, then months, until you notice that when someone touches your arm as some sort of polite gesture you’re highly – almost inappropriately – aware of it; any slight sense of a prospect you scare off with overthinking and awkward pauses and wrong sentences; and nights spent clicking through dating websites, amazed by how each profile seems to say the exact same, boring thing. Amazed by how even the pool of potential prospects seems unsatisfactory.

Long-Term Monogamous Relationship: An Unclear and What Some Might Say Terrifying Idea of How Long You’re Going to be in a Long-Term Monogamous Relationship

Until you meet someone that you know you need to stay with. You know you need to stay with this person because this person possesses things unknown which when you catch glimpses of they are amazing and you feel a great relief because this is indeed what you have been searching for. And for a while it’s perfect.

But difficulties soon arrive. Commitment issues emerge. Issues with depression and happiness surface. Problems with sex crash the party. The person you once pined over and were thrilled about and with whom all your interactions felt so easy and graceful has turned into a difficult, staunch, adversary who has suddenly become many things that you do not want to deal with because dealing with them means a step into extreme discomfort, hours of talking and attempting to see the world through someone else’s perception.

Eventually you start wishing that things were easier, because “relationships shouldn’t be this difficult” (naive), and you start noticing attractive potential-if-you-were-single mates walking past you on the sidewalk, for example, and one day you realize, uncomfortably, that when you commit to a person in a relationship, you commit to their problems, and that it is not feasible to think of one’s problems as simple equations, as ‘obstacles’ that can be concretely overcome. Your partner’s so-called ‘issues’ are so closely connected to your partner’s personality that they’re actually informing it – both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parts. That sometimes the same ‘issues’ that make you insane also fuel positive aspects of your partner’s personality. And so ‘solving’ a problem in effect turns into trying to ‘change’ a person. Which, as it is well-known, can be an extremely difficult and contested issue to navigate.

Your Life: (One of) the Final Decision(s)

At this juncture you have a decision to make. You must either accept or reject the person and his or her ‘issues’/personality. Accept it and commit to slowly working through and/or getting used to a person on a deep level – for ‘forever’ (because it would be unrealistic to commit to accepting someone for, for example, two years), and commit to the ‘unexitedness’ of monogamy (i.e. the goal of making yourself believe that you don’t want that kind of excitement anymore) – or reject it and spend nights alone, looking through dating websites, sometimes having awkward one-night stands, and simply waiting, bleakly, for the next long-term monogamous relationship to fall into your lap. TC mark

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The Difficulties of Being Single vs. the Difficulties of Being in a Long-Term Monogamous Relationship is cataloged in , , , , , , , , ,
  • http://twitter.com/readdanwrite Daniel Roberts

    'jesus christ'

  • Piquo

    Astute insights, but it doesn't have to be one or the other. Go poly– it can really help a relationship!

  • http://www.facebook.com/wingedthing Leigh Alexander

    damn, seems like the 'being single' was 'me right now', esp. re 'remorseless weeks'

    fucking… gonna watch the fireplace channel alone on xmas, bleak

    • Piquo

      What's with these Tao Lin replicas everywhere? Tedious.

  • Julianat3

    lol. the above comment was the cherry on top of that article. I can't tell if i'm laughing or crying because that article hits so close to home for me (and everyone I know).

  • http://twitter.com/jessdutschmann Jess Dutschmann

    rough

  • Sue T.

    Now I'm depressed.

  • Oscar Arias

    'damn'

  • happyjoyjoy

    Weak.

    God, if you can see these things that suck about being single, remind yourself of them when you start having douche-y thoughts about your relationship after getting a little bored. Fuck, of course you have to accept the personality quirks of someone you get into a long term relationship with. That's the whole point. How can you really go from miserable loner who can't even hold a conversation with the opposite sex after they touch your arm to “hey, i'm in a relationship now but it's kinda old. I could be getting so much action out there with other chicks who are maybe prettier and who i can date with less difficulty?”

    • Brandon Gorrell

      Seems like you didn't read the part of the article that reads “But after some time – perhaps six months, perhaps a year, perhaps, even, two years, the presence of a partner can feel much less exciting than it used to, and the thought of spending time with another person or some fantasy being might become a very compelling one.”

  • http://twitter.com/StephenDGH Stephen Hann

    Very succinct, but now I feel worse. “Humankind cannot stand very much reality.” T. S. Eliot

  • Barry

    damn it's hard to stay satisfied, why is this our life

  • catalyst

    it doesn't have to be so black and white.

    summerslang.tumblr.com

  • http://everyoneisquiteperfect.blogspot.com Ted

    and sometimes you approach someone you think is your internet date and she is not your internet date.

  • http://twitter.com/Erikhaspresence Erik Stinson

    alternately, vague non-concern regarding single/relationship status. continuous thoughts of balance and renewal. warm gray tones.

    honestly feel like this is worse in some ways.

  • elaine

    make the decision for me, bsg

  • http://heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.com/ tao

    sweet

  • Alex

    Then the beauty of a friend with benefits enters… before possible complications ensue.

  • Yeahghg

    what amazing observations by a socially awkward nerd who internet dates and can't get laid unless he's in a relationship with another socially awkward averagely attractive boring fucking nerd.

    carry on. don't forget to breed some ugly children!

    • http://kumquatparadise.tumblr.com aaron nicholas

      are you being sarcastic

  • http://artfoal.tumblr.com Jenny Ma

    Hurray ( : Reading Rainer Maria Rilke's 'Letters to a Young Poet' changed my entire perception on relationships. All the difficulties, the challenges, the energy-vacuum of repeated conversations… I no longer form immediate opinions about the relationship but think about what I can improve, and all the nasty parts of relationships I cherish because of the good changes that can come of it. This must sound nuts? Rilke just expressed it so beautifully… that young people, or lovers, should gather love the way we gather honey, the way we build careers…

    Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other. – Rainer Maria Rilke

    Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky. – Rainer Maria Rilke

  • Madison Moore

    seems like an open relationship is the answer. seems less bleak.

  • http://www.kzspygv.blogspot.com christina

    I don't necessarily disagree with any of the points, but the piece as a whole is a false dichotomy. I'm in a long-term, currently long-distance relationship, and I never thought it was possible to go back to the exciting, anxious, pining stage of interaction with this person but holyshit things are next level right now.

  • http://twitter.com/faizthoughts Faiz Khan

    beat me up

  • ame-onna

    “… and one day you realize, uncomfortably, that when you commit to a person in a relationship, you commit to their problems, and that it is not feasible to think of one’s problems as simple equations, as ‘obstacles’ that can be concretely overcome. Your partner’s so-called ‘issues’ are so closely connected to your partner’s personality that they’re actually informing it – both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parts.”

    fuck me

  • Thought Catalog

    Reblogged this on Ashtray Girl.

  • Thought Catalog

    Reblogged this on Sparks! ♥.

  • http://setoshino.wordpress.com Setoshino

    Reblogged this on The World Without Us.

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