Loss is inevitable, and yet love is the most transcendent part of life. How to reconcile love and loss? How to live when the potential for sadness and grief is ever-present? I’m contemplating this sense of enormity right now, inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 64.
I got engaged! To the love of my life! It’s that fairy tale fantasy I have doubted many times on the record could ever really be true. Yet as I move onward into marriage (have I mentioned how amazing my fiancé is?), I have been reflecting on my single days-gone-by and finding myself nostalgic. Voila, the top 5 things I miss:
1. The certainty that I am more important than anyone. I don’t believe in compromises that leave both partners in a relationship weaker, or less-than-fully-happy. I love Hanna Rosin’s idea of the ‘seesaw marriage’ in which partners take turns shouldering burdens so that they can each fulfill their own potential (she talks about it at length in her book, The End of Men). You can alternate working and going back to school. You can come up with creative ways to share the housekeeping. You get the idea. Add children to this mix and the see-sawing gets ever more complicated and multi-dimensional. I believe we all can have it all and be great parents, too. It just may take a very complex Excel spreadsheet to figure out how.
But when you’re single, you don’t have to get creative about WHO is going to pursue their passions, splurge on the designer loafers, dash off to Istanbul for the weekend, oh, and take out the dog for his walk. It’s all you, baby. For better or worse. And most of the time, having absolute discretion over your priorities and being able to adjust them at will is a goddamn blessing. Embrace your sole importance, all you single ladies.
2. Emotional, Spiritual, Mental, Financial Independence. Emotional dependence on your man allows you to open up and be truly, freely vulnerable. Spiritual dependence on your man - and on the universe, to protect him and your life together - gives you a rich, full experience of the complicated microfibers of our human existence. Mentally depending on your man to take on his share of life tasks and challenges, and knowing that he will, is a stabilizing gift. Depending on more than one income to save and spend obviously brings security.
However, feeling complete in (or at least basically on top of) each of these areas all by myself gave me such a compelling sense of power and personality when I was single. I did not need anyone but myself, and I reveled in that independence. My man and I are now figuring out who we are, together, in each of these areas. It’s a new, exciting process. But I miss the solidity I had before, and that I hope to build now again, anew.
3. Not having to be nice about things I find obnoxious. OK, I don’t HAVE to be nice when my man does something to piss me off, especially when he knows it will piss me off. But more and more in my relationship, I find that patience, good humor, and compassion all work to diffuse annoying situations. Complaining about the less-than-perfect and bemoaning when mistakes are made is a surefire way to put both you and your man at your worst. So, more and more, I am a lot nicer now. I have abundant patience, which, believe me, is astonishing. I think this phenomenon is what people are getting at when they say their partner “makes them a better person.” I wouldn’t say I’ve become better; I’ve just learned to bite my tongue. When I was single, I was less inclined to play the diplomat and had more incentive to instigate. I miss those good old fiery days!
4. The sense of sexy mystery just before he orders a drink. I now take incredible comfort in the routines my man and I have created together. They bring me happiness in leaps and bounds. I love knowing this person utterly, and I love being able to look at him and sense exactly what he’s needing or craving in that moment. But when I fantasize, I look back on the early days, when I sat next to him at the bar and thought to myself, “What the hell is a tequila gimlet? That’s a great idea!”
5. Having the option not to love someone. When you are single and a guy is in your gaggle, it is up to YOU how you cultivate that relationship. You can decide if and when a guy has fallen out of your favor, or disappointed you too deeply, or revealed something less-than-savory about his character. But when you are engaged - soon-to-be-married - you lose the right to that judgment. You and your man are taking on each other. You are going to disappoint each other in some ways. You may even severely let each other down. But you don’t get to step outside your relationship and re-jigger. You’re in it and inextricably bound to it. Your relationship is larger than both of you. Gone are the days when I could have downgraded my fiancé from Boyfriend Prospect to Ego Booster or Accessory.
From now on, the choice has been made, and my man is only moving up. I am choosing this, and choosing him, because I know that he above all others is worthy. So, single ladies, heed my advice and cherish your gaggles while you still have them in free motion. Cultivating your gaggle is the best way to learn about yourself and find the right guy - it is also the element of single life I truly miss the most.
Thanks Horia Varlan for the photo!
Coming next week to bookstores and amazon everywhere! Get ready to revolutionize your love life… #thegaggle #dating #romance #relationships #single #proud (at www.The-Gaggle.com)
What crazy sh*t would you pull to get someone to like you back? (Or text you back.) You are not alone! Sappho, a Greek poetess circa 630 BC, had some crazy going on…
1. Her mother (who had no formal education) said, “My children are going to college, even if it means I only have but one dress to put on.” Coretta Scott King graduated the valedictorian of her high school, attended Antioch College in Ohio and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She received honorary degrees from Princeton, Duke and Bates, among other universities and institutions.
2. She was a tomboy.
3. She was a musician, singing, and playing trumpet and piano. She was an accomplished soprano and studied voice at the New England Conservatory of Music.
4. She removed the vow “to obey your husband” from her marriage ceremony to Dr. King.
5. After Dr. King’s assassination, she attempted to recruit Josephine Baker to take his place and become the leader of The Civil Rights Movement. When Baker declined, Scott King decided to lead the movement herself.
6. Her children were 13, 9, 7 and 5 when she lost her husband and assumed this mantle of leadership. Her three surviving children are Civil Rights leaders themselves.
7. Amidst vocal criticism from some African-American pastors, she fought for LGBT rights as part of the Civil Rights Movement. She stated: “[My husband] believed that none of us could be free until all of us were free, that a person of conscience had no alternative but to defend the human rights of all people. I want to reaffirm my determination to secure the fullest protection of the law for all working people, regardless of their sexual orientation … it is right, just and good for America.”
8. She denounced capital punishment and the 2003 Iraq War.
9. She became a vegan in the last 10 years of her life.
10. She wished to be interred next to her husband, where she was laid to rest 38 years after his death.
Sleep Alone and Like It! (Or, How Not to Succumb to Pressure About Being Single) / Love Poem for the Day
As young women, we feel tremendous societal pressure, especially when we’re single. We are pressured to be in a relationship, to justify our life choices, to fit into a conventional mold. Inspired by Erika Funkhouser’s poem “When She Lies Down at Night,” I want to talk about how we can deal with loneliness and how we may be able to let go of social pressure.
How Should You Handle a Breakup? / Love Poem for the Day
‘YOUR eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.’
And then She:
‘Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, passion, falls asleep.
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!’
Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
‘Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.’
The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more:
Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,
In bosom and hair.
‘Ah, do not mourn,’ he said,
‘That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.’