I broke up with my last boyfriend just over a year ago. He was a nice boy; in fact, a bit too nice – so much so that I wanted us to get married. (I don’t believe in doing things by halves). His small but rather immovable disagreement on the matter lead to us eventually dissolving things.
In the year since then, a lot has happened in my life. Suffering the death of my mother, moving to the UK, starting afresh, all of these have had quite an impact on me. I’d like to say that my recent decision to stop engaging in hetero relationships stems from such drastic changes in my life – an understanding of the frailty of human connections, and the futility of engaging in them when so much is uncertain.
However, my reasons are far more practical.
I joke about this to my loved ones, but I feel that moving to England has made me soft, in the sense that I am slowly losing the tolerance I had to face daily power outages and drying up of the water supply and public transport that sometimes wants to kill you (not to mention mosquitoes that actually will kill you). If the move to a first world country has made me soft, in a similar manner being single for this length of time has also made me soft.
I am no longer able to tolerate much compromise, or the contortion of myself to shapes to fit a man’s preference. And I have also come to realise the painful truth, which is that a woman like me – strongly feminist, highly professional, very opinionated, and tempestuously emotional – will have to compromise very dear principles when in a long term hetero relationship, maybe even her very own being. I no longer feel like doing this.
I’ll be even more honest – I’m also tired of it hurting. I’m tired of how engaging with men has resulted in me, over and over, doubting my own worth; and on one brutal occasion, my own humanity. In my relationships, even in the casual flings I’ve engaged in the past year or so, the number of times I’ve softly or harshly, literally or emotionally, been knocked about – simply for being the way I am – it’s been absolutely mind-blowing. And quite enough, really.
As those of you who’ve read my blog know, I’m someone who has built herself up from a precarious position in every way. I’ve faced a lot of shit both personally and professionally, and thus I’ve worked very hard on my mental health and on myself to reach this point where I love myself as generously as I love everyone else. To reach this position and then to find that on engaging with men I continually face fragile male egos trying to knock me down, beneficient sexism round every corner, and sometimes even blatant misogyny coated with sugary poison – it has, unfortunately, taught me that it is better to leave well enough alone.
I cannot even begin to detail the things men have said to me, things they should have known better to, things that they didn’t know better to, things that were passed off as jokes, jibes, teasing, but sometimes were also said in genuine anger, violence, disgust, hatred. Is it even their fault? I don’t even know anymore, because they imbibe all this from cultures that makes it all acceptable. But all I know is that I have done nothing in my time with these men – men that I have on many occasions genuinely felt only affection for – to deserve this sort of bruising, this constant pervasive battering. So – thank you but no thank you.
It’s not just me – some of my friends are in beautiful relationships, but quite a few have fared just as badly as I have. Even supposedly ‘woke’ men can be pretty damn awful to those closest to them. And while I’ve joined my friends in saying ‘I am DONE with men’ multiple times – I think it is only now that I’ve come to believe this entirely.
Taking myself away from the world of hetero dating – if not, alas, from the world of men entirely – has also freed me up in other ways, most notably to enjoy other women’s company, and to stop viewing them even briefly as rivals. In a recent interaction with a boy at my workplace, I felt threatened (briefly) when a colleague of his joined the conversation, but in a few minutes I had established a bond with that friendly, cheerful girl about twice as better as I had speaking to her male companion.
That is not to say that I don’t appreciate the men who are in my life – but apart from the ones who already exist – my family, my childhood friends, my best friend – men whom I’ve grown with and known for years – apart from these, I find I prefer the company of women. Opting out of hetero relationships has given me the opportunity to develop nurturing and lasting relationships with women, most of whom have been on every level more satisfying, more caring and more relatable. And while I am not completely closed off to the idea of a relationship with a man at some point, I am spending and enjoying so much of my time with women that this is fast becoming a rather hypothetical scenario 🙂
And, to be honest, I’m not complaining about it.
See you guys soon. I still haven’t done last year’s book list and I feel very guilty about that, but I’ll post it before June, hopefully. (or at least before the year ends!)
(There’s another reason as well that opting out* of heterosexual relationships has become easier for me, and that I will detail in another post. For now, though, that’s about all I’ll say. )