Hand holding leaf

Are you happiest when you are single or in a relationship?

A friend asked me an interesting question the other day: Are you happiest when you are single or in a relationship?

I almost shrugged her question off, seeing as it is a comical one, right? We are supposed to be happier in relationships. That’s the antiquated goal we all sign up for as a society, isn’t it?

single-vs-relationships-dating
Photo Credit: Dash Burst

A friend asked me an interesting question the other day: Are you happiest when you are single or in a relationship?

I almost shrugged her question off, seeing as it is a comical one, right? We are supposed to be happier in relationships. That’s the antiquated goal we all sign up for as a society, isn’t it?

After I paused and really tried to answer the question, I found myself contemplating monogamy. A few Alex Trebek hosted moments had passed before I looked at her, face deadpan, and answered, “I don’t know.”

Confused-Cat-Meme-2
Photo Credit: Yunhosbanana

For women especially, we’re all just sad spinsters and crazy cat ladies, shamed into repressing our masculine needs, you know like strength of self, risk-taking, and decisiveness. I bonded with the concept of romantic unity early on, and, not unlike the majority of Gen X, felt a sense of soul-loss with this first serious relationship-loss.

Not going to lie, after I broke up with my first boyfriend and was single for the first time I went a little bananas. I was like a sexually repressed Amish teenager during a Miami Rumspringa. It’s just a phase, they said. You’re just rebounding, it’s normal, they protested. That may have been true, but I continued on my path of sexual and emotional destruction for over a year. I was at war with society. Nobody could make me feel less because I was single, because I enjoyed the empowerment.

I became married to the idea of the single life (pun intended). I was at my happiest, and my friends could tell.

“You were different. Not in a bad way, just more lively and seemed happier, more at peace with yourself” my friend remarked, remembering cherub-days spent calling each morning adventures and mistakes life lessons. Of being health conscious and fit, showering daily and eating chocolates on the actual day of Valentines.

I was always the only single person in the group–and loved it. Where they had to be home at a certain time to meet their partner, I was out until the early morning hours. Chasing the sun with a half-drunk bottle of tequila and a fully drunk facial expression, catching rides home in strip club owners party buses (true story). Where they planned dates with the same person, struggling for innovate ideas, I was always trying something new with someone new.

Those foreigners from Brazil? Weekday tapas. That businessman that owns the high rise downtown? Dinner and dancing. That art student? Museum hopping and cultural affairs. It was my real-time version of social networking. I got to experience new things, taste new people, and was always, at the end of the day, blissfully alone.

I found a sort of peace in the ideals of casual dating. A peace in knowing where my relationships stood, what exactly I wanted out of them.

With peaks and valleys, on all frontiers, I continued to date again, to cup my precious, beating heart in my blue hands- a sacrificial offer to the gods and goddesses of romantic union and all things Ryan Gosling.

Am I happier? My same instigating friend, whenever I have doubted this relationship, always asks me, “Could you imagine your life without that person.”

To answer honestly I could imagine myself without anybody. Uprooting across the country, across the world, making new connections pivoting my journey whenever I pleased. And as someone who has often been quoted as having an edge, I feel even more capable of carving through any professional, romantic, platonic, familial, and unfamiliar landscape.

The real doggy bag message here is that I could live without this person, but I don’t. Who I am within and without said status is more or less the same, in essence, in conviction, in humor and in fear. What makes me joyous is the fact that I CHOOSE to love someone and invite him or her into my life everyday.

It’s a different kind of happiness, one of commitment, passion, romance and stability. It doesn’t matter who you invite into your life, as long as they RSVP and take you as their plus one.

And sure, there are those moments in life where you are stuck east of Egypt and have no way of getting home. Like dendrites, we create synapses of trust and reciprocity over time with our partners, neurons firing home in a place of familiarity instant ease.

Patriarchal limitations aside, be your bad self, be your best self, be with YOURSELF, listen to your inner self, and during Christmas, don’t forget the elf’s opinions of the self.

Where the single life boosts egos, being in a relationship teaches openness and true intimacy with all of its rewards and arenas. Whether your stilettos are at war with the dust on your top shelf, or handy and in commission, to each her own happiness.

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