If I had a nickel every time one of my happily-coupled friends or acquaintances raised an eyebrow at me in this half-concerned, half-horrified way upon hearing that I’m just as happy being alone as I am with my girlfriend, I’d have a lot of nickels. Binders of nickels. I’d have so many nickels that I could probably buy myself and Victoria Beckham a Birkin apiece, or at least a few of those thousand dollar key chains. A veritable shit ton of nickels, that’s how many eyebrow raises I get.
Which I don’t really understand, given that I never got the memo that said being in a relationship and being into your alone time are mutually exclusive. Actually I was under the impression that alone time benefits relationships, but maybe not. Maybe eating chicken alfredo together in bed every night is what really benefits relationships. Or maybe the trick is more rehashing of past arguments and feelings to make sure everyone’s really over it. Maybe that’s what we all need more of. I don’t know.
To be honest, I thrive on alone time. I need it in the purely human way we need red wine or oxygen — it’s centering and inspiring and just generally wonderful. At the same time, I’m genuinely happy in my relationship, but I also know I would completely lose it if we had to be in touch with each other 24/7. But is that so weird? Am I truly the girlfriend anomaly the raised eyebrow suggests? Or is the raised eyebrow a sign of smug superiority, complete disbelief that anyone can be happy alone once part of a pair?
The idea of being “part of a pair” is what bothers me the most. Easily my greatest fear in relationships is losing sight of who I am as an individual and becoming an indistinguishable part of a unit, which might in part be because I used to let it happen so much. I used to believe in this all-consuming, love-conquers-all doctrine of relationships and romance, this idea of living for one person and one person only, the idea that there’s one person out there who can make you truly alive. Though I found this naïve, absolutist view really beautiful when I was younger, right now it actually seems like the worst thing — at this point, the last thing I want is all-consuming love. I don’t want to be consumed by anything, much less a love that swallows me whole like the biblical whale. I want to stay balanced for as long as I can. For the time being, I want to hold onto myself.
And it might have been cozy and romantic once, but I suspect I’m over being overly attached. I am no longer interested in being consumed, or starting each sentence with “we” instead of “I,” or thinking of myself primarily as someone’s someone. Some Saturday nights I like to go out by myself. And maybe that merits an eyebrow raise, but eyebrow raise or not, I’m not the one with the problem. I’m not the one bleeding out of a gaping wound in my self-esteem and using my partner as a tourniquet.
Although really, I’m happy for you. I am. It’s great to see you’re so in love and so blessed with so-and-so on your Facebook stockpile of saccharine debris, but the thing is, I read about so-and-so on my news feed every single day, but I can’t remember the last time you posted anything about what’s been going on in your life this entire time.