I’m in a relationship, guys! April Fools, still single. But after the enormous mistake that I made last night, everyone seems to think otherwise.
I went to a Red Wings game with a few friends. In the excitement of the game and the smell of hot dogs and pizza and all of the things that my diet doesn’t allow me to eat, I did something really, really dumb: I posted a picture to my social media accounts with me, one of my single, good looking guy friends, and our two married friends.
CAN YOU BELIEVE I DID THAT?
The repercussions were massive. Within 20 minutes it had like 100 likes. My phone was blowing up with texts from people I haven’t talked to in years asking me about this “mystery guy” (which was kind of funny because this guy has been one of my close friends since 4th grade).
People were commenting about our “obvious” connection (We were sitting next to each other and smiling, so I guess that’s all it takes to be in love. Who knew?), our definite chemistry (We actually argued the entire game about politics and his jaded views), and the fact that we looked so happy together (The wings were up 3-0. So yeah, I was happy).
The mystery guy’s name is Eric, and he’s a great guy. We’ve been friends since 4th grade, and when we were in 7th grade we “dated,” whatever that means in 7th grade. I then dumped him through a note. (Oddly enough, I was recently dumped through an email. Karma? Prob.)
And sometimes we hang out because that’s what friends do.
Friends sit next to each other at sporting events because it would be weird to purchase tickets that weren’t next to each other. They smile when taking a picture because that’s what we do in America when we’re past our duck face phase. They talk and interact and look into each other’s eyes because that’s what you do when you’re an adult and are having a conversation with another person.
But all of this was moot. All of it was overlooked, because I was sitting next to a guy who happens to be reasonably handsome (He just said, “Oh please” out loud) and so therefore I MUST BE IN LOVE WITH HIM.
This isn’t some sort of bash on the people that commented. This isn’t an attempt to make anyone feel bad. People are excited for me to find a man that I love and that loves me back (As I have already found a man that I love in Gerard Butler, but sadly he doesn’t love me back. Yet.)
This isn’t a slap on the hand or a shame on you…or at least not a really dramatic one.
But really it’s more of an opportunity to shine a light onto yet another reason why it is SO hard to date in today’s society. I woke up this morning, walked into the bathroom to take out my bite guard (I’m too sexy at night. Probably why I’m single) and while looking in the mirror, thought to myself, “Well, I can’t ever post a picture of me with a guy again. That’s that.”
Some of you might think that that’s a dramatic response, which is a little crazy because I am RARELY DRAMATIC LIKE EVER. But, really, is it? The comments ranged from simple inquiries to downright awkward. And I can handle it, that’s not really the issue I’m having here. The real issue is that I shouldn’t have to.
I shouldn’t have to humor countless texts, Facebook messages, and comments about my relationship with this guy. Why? Because it’s nobody’s business, that’s why!
“Well you put it on Facebook. You made it everyone’s business.” Is that really what I did there? Or did I put up a picture of me and three friends at a hockey game? I was also told that I lead people to believe that I was in a relationship with him because of the picture caption. For reference, the caption was “Wings game with my best friend, her husband, and the guy I dumped in 7th grade.” If that’s not a hidden marriage proposal, I don’t know what is.
And then what came next was even worse…feeling the need to answer people’s ridiculous comments. My GOODNESS, my single peeps have all been there. Because no response is a confirmation, right? So there I am, finding myself defending the fact that I am an adult woman, fully capable of having a great friendship with an adult male without secretly planning our wedding or doodling his name on napkins during my lunch break.
“No guys, I swear, there’s nothing there!!! I promise!!!” I exclaim as people nod their heads knowingly, as if they know my needs and desires better than I do. Why is this even necessary to say? Why can’t people just believe me?
Why, in our current culture, and ESPECIALLY in our current church culture, is the thought that two single adults could be great friends enormously more of a stretch than the thought that they are probably in some sort of secret relationship and are just keeping it from everyone.
Why can’t I have male friends and do things with my male friends without everyone assuming that I am some fragile female who cannot control her emotions and will fall in love with any single man that I come into contact with, and most certainly that I take a picture with?
This morning when I woke up, as I wiped the eye boogers out of my eyes and brushed my teeth, I realized that I feel like people would be happiest for me if I was in a relationship. There are people who have been there with me through my singleness and have prayed for me and the man that I will marry (or maybe I won’t get married…who knows. I’m not worried.), but then there are those who have no given interest in my life until they think that I have finally found a man who completes me. This is a really lonely and disheartening feeling.
It’s frustrating to me that with all of the content that I post on social media, including the content on my own personal website that I dreamt up and built myself, that the most attention generating post would be a picture of me sitting next to a boy.
It’s not my writings about women’s rights, equality, politics, travels, goals, family, or dreams. Nope, it’s a picture of me smiling next to a man who might be “the one” simply because he posed for a picture with me. Think about that logic, people. Think about the message that you’re sending me. Then you might understand why I woke up this morning feeling disappointed and mistaken.
Let me be incredibly candid: There is a secret, unseen pressure in the life of single, christian women, sadly put on us by other Christians, to be in a relationship and married. It’s exhausting and leaves us feeling like we are seen as less of a woman because we have not yet performed any of our “womanly duties” for a man.
Everyone wants me to be a quiet and sensitive Mary when I’m a mother freakin’ Martha, and I love being a Martha. I’m a doer. I’m a provider. I make things happen. I conquer. I take names and I kick butt. I’m successful and smart, and don’t buy into the lie that it’s not okay to be incredibly and insanely complex and have much more to me than just ridiculously perfect eyebrows. And all of that is overlooked because I don’t have a man who can complete me and maybe tame my “Martha-ness” just a little bit. (He could try…)
News flash: I am complete. Currently, as is.
Can we please, please, please stop commenting on people’s lives as if we have walked their journey with them? Can we please, please, please stop assuming that every social media post is some sort of hidden love announcement? Can we root for single people to thrive alone before they thrive with someone else? Can we applaud great friendships to encourage them to continue to be friendships?
And for one last time, can we stop making people feel like the best thing that could happen to them would be to be loved by another human, as if they aren’t already?
Leah Barterian works as the Youth Program Director at Grace Christian Church in Metro Detroit, Michigan. She is extremely passionate about singleness, Red Wings hockey, social equality, and late-night snacking. She loves baked cheetos, puppies, and laughing at videos where people slip on the ice. She inexplicably hates black beans and humidity. Follow Leah on Twitter and Instagram @Leahbarterian. Explore Leah’s blog HERE.
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