Do you remember at the beginning of Beyoncé’s song Pretty Hurts, where she’s at a beauty pageant, and she says, “My aspiration is life is…to be happy.”? Beyoncé is right, my aspiration in life is to be happy. I think at everyone’s core that is all we ever want. But I want to talk about the thing that won’t make you happy. It’s one of (in my opinion) the most damaging dating myths:
“Being in a relationship is going to make you happy.”
NOW. Before all the happy couples mount my head on a spike (I’m rewatching Game of Thrones), please reread the sentence carefully. I’m not saying that you cannot be simultaneously happy and, in a relationship, nor am I saying that relationships can’t enrich your life. However, relationships, boyfriends, girlfriends, significant others, partners are not going to make you happy. This idea that a relationship is the missing part of your life is a lie. The great and terrible lie we tell ourselves to ward off the demons at night. The sky is not magenta, babies don’t come from storks, and being in a relationship will not make you happy.
Why not? First, we have to think about why you want the relationship.
You know that feeling when you have nothing to do (#quarantine) so you open the fridge and get a snack and while you’re eating it feels really good and you’re pretty content with the way things are going, so you go along your merry way. But then thirty minutes, forty-five minutes, maybe an hour passes, and you’re bored again. So, you duck back into the fridge to get another snack because at least eating is something to do. You’re not hungry, you’re bored.
We’re going to call this the “Fridge Predicament”. And the Fridge Predicament is attempting to solve a problem with an unrelated solution. And the same thing occurs on a larger scale with relationships. That feeling when life is just lackluster and over a glass of wine while watching Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling canoeing in the rain, you say “I want a boyfriend”. Here’s the thing, you don’t want a boyfriend. You want change. You want change because you don’t know what to do with your degree, because you’re unhappy with the size of your booty, because you’re overwhelmed with the time commitment from your job. The problems you’re experiencing are unrelated to a lack of romanticism in your day-to-day life. You’re living into the Fridge Predicament.
Now, we’re going to take a little detour, because there is something I want to say. My dear friends, if you are seeking out companionship because it makes you happy, that is completely separate and not at all what we’re talking about. If you seek out casual hookups, one-night stands or any sexual interaction of any capacity because you’re a bad bitch who wants what she wants then YOU DO YOU. Never let anyone ever tell you that the way you live your sex-life is wrong. We’re just talking about seeking relationships in place of solving problems. I digress.
The Fridge Predicament is not easy to escape, it’s so common place you may not even be aware that you’re doing it. Let’s use me as an example (because it’s my blog, duh). Two years ago, I was in a real shithole. Life had beaten me down and I was near ready to give up. I hated my program, I had no friends at UBC, I was fresh out of a relationship that ended on less than amicable terms and I was just a hot mess all around. So, I met this boy who asked me out and we went on like two or three dates, but they were the epitome of a non-starter. Just no chemistry, no spark, no NOTHING. However, that glimpse of attention, that light in the distance that was shaped sort of like a relationship became a beacon of hope because I had this deluded dream that “happy people are in relationships”. So I spent months trying to find boys that I could shove into my life to make me feel like I was happy and just blatantly ignoring all the shit parts of my life, which was practically everything else.
And in writing this piece my younger sister got a little frustrated with me. “How could you tell people that relationships won’t make you happy, when your old relationships have made you happy?” And part of her is right. Being in the right relationship with the right person makes you feel alive. But if, and only if, you are happy with the life you currently live.
A romantic relationship is commitment and work and time and energy. And yeah sure, in the beginning it’s rainbows and unicorns and you actually think that your significant others can part water like Jesus did, but that all wears off. All that shine of a new relationship will dull and you are simply left with your same life plus an extra person, so you better be happy with the life you have before you start things up. A relationship will add to your life but not change the reality you’re currently living in. You need to have a life you’re proud of and are excited to live, and then find the relationship. And this doesn’t mean be in a stable job with all your ducks in a row, but have goals and plans and ideas and live a life that inspires you and drives you forward.
No, it’s not wrong to want a relationship. Human beings in all their wisdom are designed to do three things. Eat, survive, reproduce. And that last one usually requires a second person. Just make sure that you’re seeking out a relationship for the right reasons and not just sliding into the Fridge Predicament. So, next time you’re whining and moaning about being lonely and wanting a relationship, ask yourself one question: How would a relationship change my life?
Because if your answer is “It means I could start a family”, “I have created this super amazing life that I want to share with someone”, “Probably not at all, but I’m in love with _______” THEN GO GET IT. Go find that man, woman, unidentified consenting adult human that lights your world on fire and LOCK THEM DOWN. But if you’re trying to eat your way out of boredom, when the fridge is empty and you’re stomach is full of leftover Chinese food, ice cream and potentially expired yogurt, you’re still going to be bored.
From me, with love, to you,