"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The State of Being Connected

Now Playing: All You Had to Do Was Stay by Taylor Swift (people like me are gone forever when you say goodbye) 

relationship (noun): The way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected (Oxford English Dictionary)

Why are people so afraid of the r-word?

Dan Savage, something of a hero of mine, once said something along the lines of 'everything is a relationship'. A one night stand is a relationship. Your girlfriends have a relationship with you. You have relationships with everyone you know and meet, however fleeting.

We tend to think of 'relationship' as that big, elusive, monogamous, we're-going-to-break-up-get-knocked-up-or-get-married THING that I don't have, as a single person. Everything else is just 'everything else'. We refuse to define things for what they are. Relationships.

I think about all the times that I've been screwed over, and every single time the person has been adamant that we are 'not in a relationship'. Yeah, maybe not a 'relationship' in the big sense of the word, but if someone is in your life, you have a relationship with them. You have rights and responsibilities, the whole she-bang. And when we refuse to acknowledge our relationships with other people as actual fucking relationships, when we refuse to honour the capital-R Responsibilities of our capital-R Relationships, that's when people get hurt. You might not owe the girl you met at a club the same that you owe your wife, but you owe them something. All human beings owe it to all other human beings to try very hard not to fuck up.

When we tell people that 'this isn't a relationship', we're just kidding ourselves. You can't associate with someone, you can't be in a state of being connected, and not be in a relationship. What people really mean when they say that is 'hang around, for the chats/sex/money/whatever, but don't expect me to respect you'.

Which might sound like a silly thing to stay in, but we live in a world where we are constantly told that anything that isn't heading towards white picket fences and 2.3 children isn't a relationship, so we stay, in this not-relationship, with its lack of respect and all the shit that comes with that.

We're scared of people who talk about relationships like this, but we have to re-think the way we think about our states of being connected. There's nothing wrong with one night stands, or casual sex, or whatever exists in the spaces between the tiny boxes we confine ourselves to. But they are relationships, and we have to see it that way, otherwise people get hurt.

You can be in more than one relationship at a time - in fact, we are all in multiple relationships all at once, and we have to be okay with that concept and not let my lefty free-lovin' weirdness freak you out. It's not cheating to have a romantic relationship with one person and other relationships of a different nature at the same time; that's just called 'having a girlfriend and also having a social circle'. What is cheating is having a girlfriend, and having a 'this isn't a relationship' thing on the side, because really, that's cheating everybody. If you're scared to label something as a relationship, maybe it's because you know you shouldn't be in one; but you can't make it not-exist by refusing to treat them properly. You don't have 'relationships' and 'this is not a relationship'; you have 'relationships' and 'bad relationships'.

I'm sorry if the way that I talk about relationships makes your bachelor heart freeze or makes your dick fall off; but I'm not going to hang around, doing whatever, being whatever, because that's not a fair exchange. When we force people to exist in our lives in a not-relationship, we are not affording them human dignity; we objectify them, because they serve a purpose to us but we don't return the favour.

People are needy. People are greedy. I've seen the best and the worst in people. It's a weird, confusing world, but sometimes I think we just confuse ourselves. My relationships with the people in my life vary from intimate to cordial, but I don't think I'm short-changing any of them; and the only way I can say that with any certainty is because I'm not afraid of the r-word, and what comes with that.

Relationships end; sometimes when death does us part, and sometimes when the sun rises and it's time to take a taxi back to reality. That's okay. I just want the state of being connected to be okay, too.

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