Addressing the stereotype of the girl who indignantly says to the guy chatting her up ‘I have a boyfriend’, I have always asked but one question; why? What does it achieve? To me, I can’t help but feel it commits the crime of putting all your eggs in one basket. Life is long, so while its a good defense against creeps you don’t want to talk to, I keep both when I’m single or in a relationship to myself in conversation, unless specifically asked.
7) People treat you differently
Going to a party as a singleton or ‘taken’ are two entirely different ball games, with pros and cons to both. Personally, I love a good flirt and receiving lots of attention, so I was pretty crushed when I went to my friend’s annual house party. I had been the year before, and whilst it was a totally mad night, I had the time of my life; it not being irrelevant that I was one of the only few girls there. The next year I went however, I was open about the fact I had a long-term boyfriend; and I may as well have been a pane of glass. No-one gave me a second look, let alone in-depth conversation. When single I had no interest in ‘getting with’ any of the people there – but the chatting was great, and a harmless flirt never hurt anyone. I was genuinely so shocked at how being ‘taken’ had taken me so much off the table. It was like being a second-class citizen. And whilst I understand not everyone is like these people at this party, its a phenomenon I’ve definitely noticed before.
6) People treat you differently #2
Equally, if you’re single and make that easily known, you may well receive unwanted attention – and people may only chat to you with an end goal in mind. Knowing you’re only being given the time of day due to animal instincts…is no better feeling. As such, in order to be interesting to new people without qualification, I keep my romantic qualifications quiet.
5) Flirting is fun, and harmless
Very few people flirt with you if they know you’re in a relationship, out of good conscience. And I get that – how could I say that’s wrong? But equally, just because you flirt a bit, doesn’t mean you’re going to jump into bed with someone. You’d be a total mug to do it in front of your partner, but what they don’t know won’t hurt them – as long as it stays in the realms of flirting. But equally, you can’t put the pressure of flirting with you despite having a partner on the other person; it wouldn’t be fair. Furthermore, I don’t know about anyone else, but when I flirt a lot, am publicly single, and then the other person wants to take it further – I panic. Yes okay, you could say I brought that upon myself, but no-one should be obliged to do anything they don’t want to, regardless of what they’ve said previously – that’s basic consent. My solution? Make your romantic status purposefully ambiguous.
4) There are many romantic shades of grey
There isn’t always a clear divide of ‘in a relationship’
and not. There’s an entire spectrum of ‘its complicated’. Sometimes you aren’t sure whether you are or not because you aren’t sure whether your partner thinks you are or not, sometimes you’re non-exclusive, sometimes you’re in denial, sometimes you’re stuck where you don’t want to be. How would you explain that to someone? And why is it their business anyways? Don’t cut yourself off from love; it’s a mistake. Keep your heart and mind open.
3) Also, I’m not Mother Teresa
I’m going to say the dreaded to anyone head-over-heels in love; I’m open-minded to other people. As should you be, if you’re under 25. We’re so young! We don’t know our arse from our elbows yet, and we certainly don’t know for sure who we’re going to marry, even if we talk about it to our lovers. I made this mistake myself, got really serious with someone when I was 17 – and it only hurts both parties, in the end. Believe me. Now, when I’m in a relationship, I’ll love unreservedly, and I’ll speculate about a future with them – but I’ll never promise to be ‘together, forever’, because you just don’t know. As such, whilst I’m not on the scout for other partners, I don’t shut the possibility of them off from me, and keep my eyes open. Perhaps your beau really will meet you at the altar one day; but then again, perhaps they won’t, and it will be that person who sneakily watches you walk into lectures, or who you oogle at in Costa.
2) Really, don’t put all your eggs into one basket
You wouldn’t do it with career choices or friends would you? You always have to have a contigency plan, or be open to the idea of failure. You can’t just convince yourself 100% that nothing will ever end your relationship (or equally, your single life, for those commitment-phobes). You may sit there and think ‘no, me and X are to the end of time’, but you really don’t know that. I thought that, I really did, and nothing major did really happen to end it. But time did. Time wears you away, gently exstinguishes sparks, and gradually opens rifts.
Sometimes those rifts are just boredom, but that’s sometimes enough. And if you’ve just spent the last however long proudly announcing your partner in all your social circles when it suddenly ends, you may find yourself up emotional sh*t creek with no paddle; you’re alone, but you’ve been so long and proudly off the market you don’t even have many rebound opportunities. Of course this will fade with time; but the time you need comfort is then, not 6 months time.
1 ) If you listen to nothing else, heed this warning; beware the Facebook ‘in a relationship’ status
This is the worst idea ever. Period. I can think of no positive associations to this terrible idea. If you want the people you care about to know, tell them. You can live without the likes. Because the moment you click that button, your business is everyone else’s. You have a new relationship every month? Great, but do you want to broadcast that? You are never in a relationship and are perpetually single? Great, but do you want to broadcast that? I’ve never seen anything good come out of these things. Believe me when I say, once you change your Facebook status back from ‘in a relationship with X’ to ‘single’, everyone knows your (potentially sensitive) business, and will be gossiping about it. You can sit there and say ‘well, they’re the ones in the wrong, they shouldn’t be doing that!’ and you’d be right, but as we all know, the world doesn’t rotate on the basis of people only doing what they should be all the time. Equally, if you’re advertised as single (and advertised is the correct word) you may receive unhappy creepy messages from people you both know and don’t. The moral of the story is; don’t put your relationship status on Facebook, and if you do, accept all the cons and none of the pros of being a celebrity; everyone knows your business, but you’re not getting paid for it.
Photography credit to Suzy Yang.