12 Brutally Honest Q&As With One Single And One Coupled 20-Something

As some of you may know, I have been in a relationship for a billion trillion years. And my beloved colleague Ella Ceron, on top of being a lovely friend and writer, is Carrie Bradshaw-certified single, and something of an expert on the topic. (I love you girl!) In the interest of science, we decided to sit down and ask each other a few brutally honest questions (and give some real answers). Here, the results:

Chelsea: Do you feel pressure to be in a relationship, or do you still feel like you’re in the ‘young ‘n’ wild ‘n’ free’ phase, according to society?

Ella: Honestly, I feel like once you hit a certain age — and I just dated myself by saying “a certain age” — it’s less cool to be all wild n’ out, though clearly everyone is still doing it. Being in a relationship seems respectable and untouchable, like nobody’s going to think less of you for it, but there’s a disconnect because it seems like everyone else is single and we’re all still disparaging each other for it. Being single and wild is sort of like when you’re out with friends and you’re like, fuck it, I’m going to order the deep fried clogged arteries with a side of shame sauce for the table, so you can’t REALLY be judged if everyone is partaking — but there is still a little judgment.

Ella: Do you ever feel like maybe you’re missing out on something by being in a relationship rather than being single? Or like there’s some things your single friends can get away with that you can’t?

Chelsea: I think everyone occasionally has those fears — “Am I not going out and partying and making all the mistakes I should be making in my 20s, am I not making out with a random Spanish guy while on vacation in Ibiza, etc” — but for me a huge part of my relationship has always been a really rich individual life. I do a lot of stuff with just my girlfriends, go on vacations, go out dancing, take classes by myself, and do what I want to do as an individual. (And I personally don’t even think a little flirting is dangerous — if you’re out with your guys, it’s fine to talk to other girls, in my opinion.) I don’t feel like I deprive myself of anything, and so I don’t have a lot of regrets in that way.

Chelsea: Do you ever get jealous of your friends/colleagues/etc when they get engaged? Like what is your honest thought process?

Ella: Sometimes I get a little jealous, not so much that they have a diamond or are getting married or anything, but there’s that solidity to their lives that I’m never quite sure about. It’s not as if I can turn to a boyfriend and be like, oh, so this happened, nudge, because there’s all the extra hurdles of finding a boyfriend and then doing it. It’s the long way around. But at the same time, I know I am not ready for that kind of commitment by a long shot — or haven’t met anyone with whom I’d like to take all those crazy leaps — and if they’ve met someone they’d like to take that terrifying leap with, then that’s great, but I have a hard enough time committing to one outfit in the morning. (Though occasionally I do e-window shop for wedding dresses. They’re pretty, and I like to look.)

Ella: Is there anything you still won’t do around your boyfriend? How long is that process of like, getting comfortable to stop getting polite and start being real, so to speak?

Chelsea: There are a lot of things I won’t do around my boyfriend, honestly, and not all of it is “shameful” or whatever. Like obviously I wouldn’t go to the bathroom in front of him or really personal stuff like that, but there are also lots of personal rituals that I won’t sacrifice. Like I love to curl up in bed and watch ASMR videos on YouTube (look it up if you must) to relax after a long day, and I can’t share that. I also like to eat frozen candy bars while watching trashy reality TV on the couch and I wouldn’t want to do that in front of him. It’s not that I’m embarrassed, it’s just my “me” time, and no matter how comfortable I get I can’t sacrifice my relationship with Chelsea.

Also, I think getting too comfortable can be a generally bad thing. We’re apart four days a week, and I love the element of mystery there. I love that a lot of things remain a surprise, and there are things he does that I don’t know about.

Chelsea: Confession: I have been single for periods of time, but I’ve always preferred to be in a long-term relationship, and I’ve never done short things for that reason. Do you have girlfriends who are serial monogamists? If so, what do you honestly think of them?

Ella: I do have girlfriends who just always seem to be in a new relationship, and I get it — they’re really wonderful, funny, engaging people and like, why wouldn’t they be in a relationship, you know? What raises my eyebrows when they hop from one to the other isn’t that they’re rebounding or anything (because honestly, I think sometimes a rebound CAN BE good for you) but when the person they choose is questionable. Like when they’re latching on to just anyone, and it’s someone who disrespects her or is just generally a F-grade human being. And like, if you can consistently find someone who wants to go from 0 to 100 with you and just Be In A Relationship all of a sudden, please, tell me your secrets because I sure as hell can’t figure that out.

Ella: Do you ever feel a little sorry for your single friends, or want to help them out in any way? What’s your opinion on the people who just can’t seem to get it together in the relationship department, wherever they are on the spectrum from “single n’ happy with it” to “always moping with the box of wine over the bombed date”?

Chelsea: I have to be honest, I have some friends who are just idiots when it comes to their own relationships and emotional happiness. I know a girl who has been on and off between the same two guys for literally almost four years, and everyone in the triangle treats each other like shit, and it’s just a generally insane situation. But I feel like that’s her journey, and her problem, and clearly she’s getting something out of the constant cycle of emotion — it probably keeps things fresh and interesting, at least — so whatever. I try to separate my friends from their relationships because a) it’s not really my business and b) if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that telling someone not to date someone who’s bad for them only pushes them further into their arms. But if someone is repeatedly getting cheated on, for example, and won’t leave the guy, I start to lose some respect for them. I at least don’t want to hear the sob stories anymore.

Chelsea: Do you ever fall into the booty call routine? Have you gotten sex-zoned?

Ella: You see, here’s where it gets interesting – I think people definitely TRY to put you in that category, but getting sexiled is verrryyyy different from getting friendzoned because there has to be a reciprocation of it. One party doesn’t decide that, it’s a mutual thing to say, “okay, let’s just do the sex thing” versus “let’s just do the friend thing.” (At least I hope it is — no should always mean no.) And I think maybe because it’s so common in our culture to just hook up at random, a lot of people throw that on the table to see if it’s a possibility. But I am also like 99% sure the Do Not Disturb feature on my phone was invented as a Booty Call Deterrent (TM), so if someone tries to hit me up at 1 in the morning, I’m just not answering.

And of course, there are the guys who try to force a FWB on you and fantasize about hitting it and quitting it repeatedly, like they think they have you figured out and project what they want as what you want, too, but honestly, if they only think your main use is to be a human Blow Up Doll, girl, bye.

Ella: How did you know that your boyfriend was like, THE ONE? Is there a click? Has this happened before with another boyfriend? What’s that realization like?

Chelsea: I have to be honest, I was obsessed with my boyfriend from date one, and had to really chase him (kind of against his will) for the first few weeks. He wasn’t really looking for a girlfriend and I was like “No, you don’t know what’s good for you, you’re going to date me.” And since then it’s always been clear that he’s just my person. He balances me in every way, and I hope I do the same for him. And in terms of “clicking,” I feel little clicks all the time, almost every day. Just little things like “Ahh, yes, this is my person” when we’re watching a movie or at a party or even arguing. It’s a constant thing.

Chelsea: How do you feel about the way single girls are portrayed in shows like GIRLS? What is your favorite single girl media representation?

Ella: It’s not GIRLS that bugs me so much as Sex and the City, because they’re just non-stop dating, dating, dating all these new guys and like, I live in New York, too, I go out pretty frequently, where are all these new men that they’re finding and I’m not? And GIRLS is its own can of worms because obviously they need to heighten the stakes and rev up time — I think why Hannah and Adam go from being FWB to live-in relationship in like, no time at all, or why Jessa just up and decides to get married because she’s Wild! and Crazy! like that. But also, I’m very much someone who is focused on her job, and so personally Rachel McAdam’s character in Morning Glory speaks to me most: she’s a workaholic, she falls in with someone at a bad time and especially when she’s not looking for it, all of that. Even though she’s a call girl, Holly Golightly is kind of like that, too. As basic as that sounds. But I do imagine it’d take those high stakes, the cat being lost and the rain and the right moment for me to be like, oh, right, maybe a relationship with you wouldn’t be so bad. (Maybe it doesn’t have to be that dramatic. Hopefully I’ll just get the little click, too.)

Ella: Do you ever see couples out — or have any coupled friends — who you’re just like, “ew, I really hope we’re not like that”? Or “aww, I hope we get like that some day”? What are those things they’re doing?

Chelsea: I definitely have some couples that are like “Oh god never,” and it’s always the couples that are just dead inside. And I mean that in the kindest way, but there are some couples that just sort of wither and fall off the vine as soon as they get into a relationship — they stop going out, they stop seeing their friends hardly ever, they stop evolving — and it’s just so tedious and awful. We know a couple where the guy, who was really vibrant and cool and kind of crazy, got engaged to his really WASPy girlfriend and just ceased to be. Their house is filled with tiny crystal figurines that she picked out (she even used wedding money intended for a projector he wanted to buy more crystal figurines) and their idea of “fun” is seeing a movie and going home at 10 instead of 9. It’s the most depressing thing in the world.

My “aww, I want that” couples are always older couples who are really visibly into each other and kind of give each other shit. I love that.

Chelsea: What is the single most irritating thing coupled people do?

Ella: It’s really not something every coupled person does, and lord knows single people do it too in different areas of life, but sometimes you just run across the couple who smile and nod and just CLEARLY think, “oh, you poor, stupid, little single person, we know so much better than you.” Like they won life points for finding someone who wants to be around them or something, and any and all past attempts at unlocking that level temporarily mean nothing because those relationships didn’t last. But relationships can still be meaningful even if they have end dates, and you still learn a lot from your past, so just because someone isn’t in a relationship RIGHT NOW doesn’t mean they’re somehow lesser than.

Ella: And finally, is there one thing you desperately wish single people would stop doing?

Chelsea: This is obviously not all of them, but some of them need to stop getting into these weird hook up-tionships and then complain that there are no good people out there. Like, there are, but you have to set some boundaries and decide to seek out people who are looking for something serious. If you want someone seriously, don’t settle for less. And if you do, don’t complain about it. TC mark

image – Ella Ceron

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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