I never played with baby dolls when I was a little girl. They never appealed to me, nor did actual babies. They were screaming, squalling, dribbling balls of snot, and I didn’t like them at all. I also never pretend-played having a wedding with my Barbies. I know many little girls dream of their perfect wedding, but I didn’t care about it at all. The only thing I did with my Barbies was cut their hair after coloring it black, and I made them have sex with each other. All that girly shit didn’t matter to me, and it wasn’t until a decade and a half later that I realized I was supposed to care deeply about these issues. When I was twenty, I realized that I didn’t want children. At all. It was a weird revelation because I just assumed I had to have them, given the societal pressure as well as the maternal pressure. When it ht me that I didn’t have to have them, a feeling of relief overwhelmed me. I didn’t have to have kids! It was as if a life sentence I didn’t know I was under had been lifted. I didn’t think it was a big deal until I started telling other people, and I was met with a range of reactions from disbelief to condescension to anger. That’s when I realized that what I did with my body was deemed to be communal property, and I heartily rebelled against that. I also bristled at the idea that I didn’t know my own mind, that my biological clock would one day overwhelm me, and that all I would be able to think about was squeezing out babies Duggar-style. It made me indignant that other people thought they knew me better than I knew myself, and even if it was true that I would change my mind at some point, why couldn’t they accept that at the time, I didn’t want to have kids?
As it was, I never changed my mind. I’m forty-five years old, and the only time I had even an inkling to have a kid was when my mother wouldn’t stop pushing me to procreate. It got so bad, I thought of having a kid just to shut her up. Fortunately, I realized that was a phenomenally stupid reason to have children, and I never thought about it again. It’s hard not to say this without sounding defensive, but the only time I think about not having kids is when someone else brings it up. I love not having kids with a glee that is unbecoming. It’s not because I hate kids; I don’t. I just never wanted them. Plus, I knew I’d be a bad mother, though I’m a pretty great ‘crazy aunt’. Once I hit forty, the question of my fertility became a moot point, much to my relief. I did have an impulse to send out cards to people who were sure I’d have kids gloating over my child-free state. It passed, thankfully, and I went on my merry way.
I was about thirty when I realized I didn’t want to get married. I was with someone at the time, and it wasn’t a reflection on him. Hm. Come to think of it, I was also with someone when I realized I didn’t want to have children. It seems that being in a relationship helps me define what I do and don’t want in said relationship. Marriage was never really high on my list of things to accomplish, but like having kids, I just assumed it was something I had to do. Again, societal and marital pressure made it hard to see other available options–namely, not getting married. I never wanted to live with someone as I really like my own space, and while my BFF argued that you could have separate abodes even if you’re married or duplexes or upstairs/downstairs, it still seemed stifling to me. I didn’t want to have someone around all the time, hogging the bathroom and more than his* fair share of the blankets. I didn’t want to have to check in with someone every time I left the house, and I most certainly did not want to share my chocolate.
In addition, I had political reasons for not wanting to get married. At the time, marriage equality was not a thing, and I didn’t like that I could marry a guy but not a woman. It made no sense to me, and I refused to participate in such an unequal situation. I wasn’t happy that this was the issue on which queers chose to focus as I wanted it to be ENDA, but once it became the raison d’être for queers, I reluctantly took up the mantle. Still, I resented it, and I had to admit to myself that my political reasons for not wanting to get married were kinda bullshit. Even if marriage equality became a thing,** I didn’t want to partake in it myself. Again, I didn’t think it was a big deal, but I got some blowback for this as well.
Some people get nervous when you question the status quo because they’ve dedicated their lives to maintaining it. Or, they do things they are supposed to do without thinking about it, and they don’t know what to do with someone who isn’t a part of that system. Some people get angry when you question the status quo because deep down, they wonder if they’re missing something by hewing to the norm. They were told their life would be a certain way, and it isn’t. They don’t want other people to have what they can’t. This may not be conscious on their part, but it’s the reason they lash out. I remember telling someone that I didn’t want to have kids like it’s no big deal.*** The person got angry and said, “So, you probably think less of me because I have kids, right?” No, I didn’t. I didn’t care what other people do, but some people need validation of their choices–which I wasn’t able to give. I don’t understand that, but it’s probably because most of my choices are nontraditional, so I’m used to society not validating my choices. Some might say I take pride in being a contrarian, and those people would be right. It’s not something I’m necessarily proud of, but I can’t deny it’s true. It’s lonely sometimes being nontraditional, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t imagine being married and having kids, nor do I want to.
My latest epiphany is one that is still evolving. I’ve been single for five and a half years, and my last relationship was a disaster. Actually, all of my relationships have been disasters, but the last one, especially so. Afterwards, I had no desire to date, and the longer I’ve gone being single, the stronger my reluctance to dip my toe into the dating pool grows. I’m old. I’m set in my ways. I’ve never liked dating. I mean, meeting someone I barely know and making small talk is never my idea of a good time, but it’s something I’m even more reluctant to do now. “Hi, what’s your favorite color. Mine is black.” Ugh. I know it can be somewhat more casual to start the process online, but it’s still not something I enjoy doing. Quite honestly, it seems like too much work for too little outcome. I know it sounds as if I’m talking myself out of even meeting people, but I’m really not in the mindset. I have good friends I love who also love me. I am getting my emotional needs met elsewhere. Truthfully, the only thing I’m missing is sex. What I’d like is to find someone I can watch a game with, fuck, and then send home. Yes, I want a fuck buddy, which doesn’t seem like too much to ask at my age.
That’s my newest realization–I don’t want a romantic relationship. I know, I know, it sounds like I’m rationalizing why I’m not in one/not pursuing one. I just don’t see it happening for several reasons. One, I’m not a good girlfriend for many reasons. I’m by turns aloof and clingy. I tend to bottle things up inside until I explode in anger. I get resentful if I have to do something that’s not on my own timetable, I’m not big on compromise, and I don’t like being interrupted when I’m doing something. I don’t like sleeping with other people. More to the point, I don’t sleep well when I sleep with other people, and I end up resenting them if they can sleep when I can’t.
Secondly, I really like my own space. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s of utmost importance. I’m used to living on my own as I’ve never cohabited with someone, and I’ve rarely lived with other people period. I am the queen of my own fiefdom, which is precisely the way I like it. Thirdly, I don’t want to be part of a unit. I’ve worked hard for forty-five years carving my personality out of nothing, and I don’t want to tamp it down for anything or anyone. I know part of being a couple is blending your personalities to a certain extent, which I’m unwilling to do. Mostly, though, I know that I change when I’m in a relationship, and not for the better. I become too focused on my partner, to the detriment of everything else in my life, including my other relationships. I become obsessed with the person, even if it’s only in my mind. I wonder what he’s up to all the time, and even if I’m not constantly reaching out to him, With social media being what it is, it’s even easier to keep tabs on someone without ever talking to him. I don’t want to be consumed by someone else or consume him, and I’m not sure I’m strong enough not to let it happen again.
I know part of being in a relationship is meshing each other’s flaws together. My BFF likes to joke that everyone has luggage and you just have to find someone with a complementary set. The problem with my own flaws, though, is that being in a relationship exacerbates them. Clinginess, obsession, paranoia, jealousy, to name a few. It’s hard to work on them when you’re not in a relationship, but it’s also hard to work on them while you’re in one. I also tend to be a martyr when I’m in a relationship, and then I turn resentful when all my sacrifices aren’t appreciated. I am nonconfrontational to the point of pathology, which also stokes the resentment fires. I could list a hundred more reasons why I’m not suited for a relationship, but it’d just be more of the same.
I feel suffocated when I’m in a relationship as well. I have a commitment problem in that I think I want to be with someone, but then when I’m actually in a relationship, I’m not sure it’s what I want to be doing. I think part of the problem is that we expect our romantic partner to be everything to us. It’s unreasonable because we don’t expect that from our friends, so why would we expect that from our partners? Relationships may be what we make of them, but I know myself well enough to say with some degree of certainty that I would fall into that trap if I were in a relationship again.
As I said above, all I’m really missing is the sex–which I miss a lot. Yes, I can take care of the orgasm myself, but I do miss the interpersonal touch. The problem is, I’m too comfortable in my little world, and I’m unwilling to venture out of it. Still. The drive for sex is getting stronger every day. I need to do something about it soon; I’m just not sure what.
*I’m bisexual, but I know that if I have a long-term partner, it will most likely be a guy.
**It has. I’m glad, even if I don’t believe in marriage because I do believe in equality.
***Because it isn’t.