I feel like I’ve wandered into a romantic funeral any time people change their Facebook status from “in a relationship” to “single.” The front pews are filled with cyber mourners offering their condolences in the comments, someone might (mis)quote redeeming words from God and I can almost hear folks in the rear gossiping about the recently deceased union.
There have been specific break-ups where I knew how misguided it was for people to express remorse; anyone who actually witnessed the relationship would rejoice at the death of such emptiness and contempt. More generally, these online requiems fortify our instinct that two is greater than one, and that being single is being incomplete.
It’s a sentiment I hear when out mingling, or during small talk while getting dressed after an online hook-up and the guy asks, “So how come you don’t have a boyfriend?”
I’m often confused by whether I should be flattered or offended by this question. His inflection suggests that what he’s trying to say is that I deserve a boyfriend, presumably him. That’s sweet enough, but there’s also the implication that having a boyfriend would represent an upgrade to my life, my worth.
“I enjoy being single,” I usually say with delicate conviction. “I’m much better at being single than being in a relationship.”
More than once, a guy responds, “Oh, so you like being a hoe.”
I take little offense to this oversimplified characterization. It would be disingenuous for me to not cite my sex life among the leading perks of bachelorhood.
I’d hate to embody the promiscuous gay stereotype without also indicting the entirety of manhood, so I attribute this indulgence more to my chromosomes than my queerness. Primal constructs have long led men to try to sexually conquer their way to immortality, and, for me, that makes the thought of having sex with only one person more morbid than death itself.
Of course, entering a relationship prevents few men from having sex with more than one person, so it’s not my vibrant sex life that keeps me single.
There is no company I enjoy as much as my own. I enjoy cooking for myself, and attending matinees solo. I enjoy going out for cocktails and dancing with friends without any pressure to find a life partner.
The people I have most often fantasized about forming a lifelong bond with have been platonic friends, with me envisioning us growing old together a la the Golden Girls.
“There is a fine line between having a good time and being a wanton slut,” Blanche Devereaux once advised. “I know, my toe has been on that line.”
There are some who would call my lifestyle selfish and immature, another characterization I cannot outright reject.
Militantly single as I am, I concede that there is more to my relationship status than liberation, revelry and orgasms. There are wounds and insecurities. There is a stubborn, masculine pride that has gorged on fleeting affirmation until there is no room, no appetite, for the genuine love offered by my former boyfriends or potential suitors.
I miss the wellness that comes with partnership, the comfort of intimate solidarity. I yearn to heal and cleanse my spirit, and to stay vigilant of the difference between independence and isolation.
Gay couples, whether monogamous or less traditional, inspire me, as do homosexuals who are unafraid of being single. With gay monogamy going from trendy to ordained, I think introspection becomes an even more important, yet often skipped, part of courtship.
I do not feel unwhole, or unholy, for recognizing my present character and choosing romantic solitude over resentful companionship. I wish we could make our laws and culture more accepting of gay relationships without making it unfashionable to be unpartnered.
Because though I am single, I know I am not alone.