Thursday, January 18, 2007

Defining Labels

Yesterday, I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine. Her comment got me to thinking about the labels we tend to place on ourselves. She just ended a 3 year relationship with her boyfriend and is single for the first time since she started dating 7 years ago.

This week was the first week she was alone in her apartment sans boyfriend. She happily said, "I felt like a real single woman for the first time in my life last night because I stocked my fridge with alcohol and then watched When Harry Met Sally!!". In return I said, "So, you think I am a lush that watches romantic comedies on a nightly basis?" Insert lots of laughter from the both of us. No, this doesn't sum up her entire viewpoint of single life but her little saying definitely got my brain off and running. Do we really base our lifestyles on being single vs. coupled?

When a person is single he/she makes all of their decisions on their own and never thinks to consult with anyone before choosing an activity to partake in. If a friend calls asking to go play cards at some random cousin's best friend's house on a Saturday night, he/she is ready and willing. However, when people are coupled, they give up a little bit of their autonomy to the "relationship" and no longer choose to go play cards at the drop of a hat. Sometimes their personal interests literally seem to fly out the window once they have a partner by their side. People go back and forth throughout their lives from living single lifestyles to living coupled lifestyles. Why do we have to put a label in front of the lifestyle we are living?

Another friend recently said that although he likes dating, he doesn't like being in a "couple" for the very reason I just pointed out. He doesn't want to change his "I" status to a "We" status because of the negative stipulations it presents. He doesn't want anyone cracking down on his time with the boys so he prefers to fly solo. Which makes me wonder why our independent nature has to get stifled in relationships?

Sometimes we choose to stifle it and other times, we are forced to stifle it. In either case, I think it shouldn't be stifled at all because what if one day you wake up and can't even find it anymore. Maybe I am thinking too long and hard on one little funny comment a friend made but I think I am on to something with re-examining how we choose to define our lifestyle.

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