Thought Catalog

You Don’t Need To Be In A Relationship To Live Romantically

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Once in a while I find myself sitting across from a couple, and I can’t help but think they are space aliens.

They’re cute together, and if we’re having dinner, they might do something painfully sweet, like ordering for each other and knowing exactly what to get. In between bites (fed to each other), they talk about their new apartment and the various perks of nesting. “We just got into candle making!” And every so often, they lock eyes, and that familiarity and comfort that emanates from them makes it incredibly easy to picture them 20, 40 years from now, still sitting on the same side of the table, ever steadfastly on the same wavelength.

Aliens! You two certainly aren’t from my planet, that’s for sure. Tell me, when does the mothership land?

I’ve never been in a committed relationship. I’ve been in love once, with someone who loved me back just as brutally, and that was a first-time thing, more of an infatuated addiction than anything. When I was happy with him, I was in heaven. And when I was sad, I wanted the world to end. After I left him, I was broken for a long time.

So if you ask some of my friends who knew me during that dark period, they might tell you that I burned out on love after that fiasco, that I developed a profound fear of intimacy.

It’s easy to write off a single person, regardless of his or her sexual orientation, as lacking in some way. I can only imagine what it is like for women, who are still being told that they are ticking biological time bombs. I have a firm theory that if it weren’t for baby guilt, women would rule the world today.

But now, with marriage equality hurtling toward reality, the queer community seemingly must come to terms with this age-old pairing off into twos. Soon it’ll be time for us to make it legal, as well. Supporters of marriage equality say that it actually preserves the nuclear American family, and they are right. But what about those of us who can’t fathom waking up next to the same person day after day?

Obviously, I am fiercely gunning for the day when all people can marry. That is a civil rights issue, and the fact that it needs to be voted on is going to be a shocking notion to our kids in a few decades.

What I have is a personal issue. I don’t want, or need, a boyfriend.

But what about romance? What about love? Companionship? The ideal human experience seems to be made for couples. My friend Sam, who is like a protective gay brother to me, once pulled me aside, his brow furrowed with concern, and asked me, “Don’t you want to be with someone? Who do you want to hold you when you die?”

It’s a sweepingly romantic thought, but leave it to Sam to make it a matter of life and death. He was so worried for me, as though I’d be incredibly lost unless I found someone.

So I used to ponder these questions, and I felt that there was something wrong with me. When people jokingly called me a slut, I laughed along with them, but inside I agreed.

A “slut” is what haters call a liberated person, and that’s what I am. I’m liberated. And the most liberating truth I’ve learned in the past few years has been this: You don’t need to be in a relationship to live your life romantically.

Despite my perpetually single status, I am a very romantic person. I can fall in love within a matter of minutes. I care deeply about people. Every corner I turn, I potentially face someone new, someone fascinating, even if it’s just for a few days. I’ve never had meaningless sex in my life.

And the times when I am most romantic is when I am with myself, loving myself and taking care of myself. I enjoy long walks on the beach as much as anyone else; I just like to do them alone. It’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I realize that my self-love is all I really need.
Because in the end it doesn’t matter if you’re committed or single, and it’s unlikely that you’ll get a say in who gets to hold you when it’s your time to go, or if you’re even held at all.

Personally, I just hope it’s someone who smells good. TC Mark

image – Shutterstock

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    • Guy

      When did I change my name to Justin Huang?

      • Blackbird

        I thought I saw myself there for a second, writing this article

    • Rose

      This piece is rife with quotable one-liners. LOVE IT.

      Especially:

      “I have a firm theory that if it weren’t for baby guilt, women would rule the world today.”
      “A “slut” is what haters call a liberated person…”
      “I enjoy long walks on the beach as much as anyone else; I just like to do them alone.”
      “…It’s unlikely that you’ll get a say in who gets to hold you when it’s your time to go, or if you’re even held at all.
      “Personally, I just hope it’s someone who smells good.”

      • Anne

        I don’t understand, what is “baby guilt”?

        • Jillian

          I think it’s referring to the fact that women are no longer able to have babies after a certain age. So even if they don’t want babies at the moment, they decide to have them before it’s too late. Or it could be because society says that women are supposed to want babies instead of focusing on other things, so they feel more pressured.

    • Maja

      Bravo! I needed this to stop feeling guilty of being a “slut” who won’t settle!

    • H

      Amazing!!!

    • kylie

      this is stellar, thank you for bringing these ideas to life.

    • hayao

      is it me or thats the defifnition of a flake?

      • Veronica

        It’s you. (A flake tends to back out when there ought to be commitment, yes? He just doesn’t commit in the first place and argues, quite well IMO, that there’s no “ought to.”)

    • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/06/you-don%e2%80%99t-need-to-be-in-a-relationship-to-live-romantically-2/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

      […] Thought Catalog » Love & Sex Add a comment […]

    • Anonymous

      SELF-LOVE <3

    • tiff

      this is amazing. I can identify with every single sentence.I absolutely love spending time alone. especially at the beach.

      • Shomarri

        mmhhmmm!

    • Sarah

      Wonderful article. Truly.

    • chitra

      Have I just found my long-lost twin?!

    • Sarah

      Have you read the Ethical Slut by Easton and Liszt?
      Check it out: ISBN 1-890159-01-8

      • Vita

        great book and I’m glad someone else has enjoyed its invaluable information on ‘slut hood’ :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/justinleehuang Justin Huang

        I actually wrote about it :) http://iamyellowperil.com/?p=280

    • Shomarri

      ahaha. I love this and I so totally agree that this chick is right about, everything. PLUS. the quotable one liners. gotta love em. Especially the ending. I couldn’t agree more!! Guys that tell me sh*t like “I don’t want you getting attached?? It’s the silliest thing I have ever heard and if only they thought about things the way this girl did or anyone else on the planet who doesn’t think the earth revolves around them just because they are a guy. This is something I needed to read today, Kudos!

      • camcam

        Uhhh, he IS a guy. How did you miss that part?

    • Florentyna

      This is exactly my life right now.

    • Neha

      its only sad that people outside of this way of thought think that its just a way to justify being alone and not feel so sad about it. they actually had me thinking it was a survival mechanism. after a while though, you have to realize that if you don’t require another’s company and are comfortable with yourself, nobody’s opinions should matter for that same reason

    • S

      Justin Huang’s the male version of me!

    • Saph

      One-half of a gay couple living in my area wanted to hook me up with a straight friend of his, saying that he “knows how troubled and lonely I am” the moment I answered his call. His husband, back in the States, posted a photo of a guy on my FACEBOOK WALL with a private message that goes: He’s a good guy, doesn’t do drugs and smoke. That did it.

      My dear friends, I know y’all meant well but I really don’t need to be in a relationship right now. I just got out of uni, and I’m working my ass of now in order to save money for my future travels, something that a committed girl might throw away. Thanks, but I also don’t need you to interfere with my sex life (or lack of it).

      Justin, you’re just like me in almost anything, except: 1) I’m a straight girl, and; 2) I’ve had quite a few meaningless sex, that’s why I kind of freak out now with every guy that shows interest.

    • Shatha_A

      “my self-love is all I really need”

    • http://alovebyte.wordpress.com Love Byter

      Thank you for making me feel less guilty about spending so much time on myself :)

    • D.

      I think I read this on Huffington Post a couple weeks ago…

      • http://www.facebook.com/justinleehuang Justin Huang

        Yup.

        By the way, Though Catalog commentors > HuffPost trolls. Thanks for the love, everyone.

    • Jillian

      This is such a refreshing perspective on being single. Much better than being miserable about it.

    • Sahil

      I’ve often felt that the term was ‘slut’ was the providence of the unliberated, the opposite of the single- the perpetual relationship person who decries the same behavior they would like to engage but can’t because of puritan beliefs/emotional insecurity.

    • http://brutereason.net/2012/06/25/sunday-link-roundup-3/ Sunday Link Roundup | Brute Reason

      […] You don’t need to be in a relationship in order to live romantically. “I enjoy long walks on the beach as much as anyone else; I just like to do them […]

    • ufufufu

      well…I hopped onto this boat a little late but….great writing!
      I think I just feel the need to give some praise seeing that I’m also gay and Asian. (Great article anyways =D)

    • http://lilacwest.wordpress.com lilacwest

      Reblogged this on lilacwest.

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