A friend of mine just posted this Elite Daily article, I'm Not Just Looking for Love, I'm Looking For Someone Who Can Keep Up, on her Facebook page.
All due respect to the friend who posted it, but oh my WORD I hate these kinds of articles so MUCH!
There are two things that get my goat about these articles:
1) The intense judgement of "other girls" or "regular people" or "the norm" or anything that doesn't fit their definition of "wild" and "adventurous".
2) The incredibly overblown "I am so different and special" statements liberally thrown around.
The root of these two factors? If you ask me, it's an incredibly powerful fear of the "regular" driven by deep-seeded insecurity that verges on self-loathing.
Those are strong words. How can I make such statements? Because that used to be me.
I had to be unique and I had to prove that I was unique at every turn because otherwise I would have to confront myself for who I actually am and be comfortable with that, and I was far from comfortable with myself. I separated things into categories of cool/adventurous/exciting/awesome or lame/boring/stifling/normal based purely on superficial. external characteristics like living in the suburbs or hair colour or how much a person travelled and whether they visited resorts or stayed in dingy hostels in the scary part of town.
That's all these articles do. They take every single human being's deep need for love and being accepted for who you are, change some of the superficial dressing, and call it revolutionary, counter-cultural, rebellious, and crazy.
So let's turn this article into an example, examine some typical quotes, and then point out the fundamental problems with them. Because then I get to feel like a know-it-all, and that's one of my favourite things.
As girls, we are told to view love as an impossibly pretty image of a white picket fence in an affluent suburb. There are supposed to be visions of business suits and perfectly coiffed children in our heads... Girls are supposed to go weak in the knees at the simple thought of a sparkling diamond ring that will forever bind them to another entity for the rest of their lives.I agree that this has historically been what girls are expected to look for in life, and if you're only just starting realize that this isn't what you want or that you don't have to conform to these old expectations, then GOOD FOR YOU!
Sure, women are still defined in many ways by the presence of a romantic partner in our lives, but if Sex and the City did anything in this life, it's show us that there are at least four different approaches to womanhood that are equally valid. Nobody said you have to be a Charlotte.
What if you don’t care for diamond rings? What if you instead prefer dangerously deep water blue sapphires? What if you look better in the color black than you do in the color white?Here it is! Your first big statement of how dangerously unique you are. "IF I deigned to get married, it would be in a rebellious black dress and I would have a sapphire ring!"
If you want to be a Gwen Stefani (got married in a white-to-fuschia ombre dress)/Kate Middleton (sapphire ring)/Drew Barrymore (slip dress and combat boots) hybrid, go for it. No one cares what you wear, what kind of ring you get, or really if you marry at all. Making big statements about it just shows your insecurity that someone else might think you're (horrors!) normal.
Don't misinterpret me - I'm not telling you nobody cares to be mean. I'm telling you nobody cares because it is so freeing to realize that other people really don't care that much about how you dress or what you do. If they know you and love you, they just want you to be happy and loved. If they don't know you or don't love you, then what do they matter unless you are manufacturing an image?
Also, if my intensely regular, Mennonite family could include a couple that got married in sun dresses and jean shorts, exchanging string bracelets instead of rings so that they wouldn't get attached to material possessions, then the world can handle you.
We are the untamable ladies who have a visceral reaction to the idea of playing house until the end of time. We are longing for real stability and true companionship — but on our own terms.I get it, you're different! You're special! You, like Miley Cyrus, cannot be tamed! Thank you for helping me see that any woman who gets married and has babies has immediately been "tamed" and certainly isn't doing anything "on her own terms". Apparently there is no room for adventure when "playing house". You can't do things like (to draw on things that members of my super normal, boring, stable family have done once more), take your kids on a year-long trip around the world or anything.
This is the start of the "I want all the good parts of a secure relationship without ever making compromises" arguments these articles always make, asking for real stability and true companionship without allowing for the possibility that you might have to let go of your ability to run away from life at a moment's notice to have that. Your visceral reaction isn't a sign of how free you are. It's a sign of fear and insecurity and superficial judgements you've placed on the visible markers of life choices that are different from your own.
My greatest fear is that I will stop growing. I never want anything to put a screeching halt on my personal progression.If you could wave a bigger flag for your fear of standing still and finding out what kind of person you actually are, I don't know what it could look like. Nothing puts a screeching halt on your personal progression except for you.
The external trappings of the boring life you hate - marriage, material possessions, children, pre-planned meals - these aren't what makes people stagnate. People stagnate when they refuse to learn, grow, experience, or be honest with themselves. You can do all those things if you are married with a baby on each boob planning the week's meals, or if you are flitting around South East Asia having intense, month-beach affairs that you abandon before anything gets too comfortable.
While I crave the feelings of being comfortable with another human being, of letting my guard down and attaining intimacy — I don’t want that comfortability to metamorphose into complacency. I want to be with a person who wants to perpetually move through life, not just remain forever still, stuck in the shackles of a mundane, safe routine.Again - this is on you, not on someone else. YOU decide whether you will move through life with an open heart and mind, learning and growing, or if you'll get sucked into some dark abyss of floating through existence. Don't put that responsibility on your partner - that is not fair to them.
I don't think anyone starts out a relationship saying, "I would like to be stuck in the shackles of a mundane, safe routine", anymore than anyone starts out their life saying, "I would like spend my life avoiding from real intimacy and instead have a series of intense but shallow connections that always leave room for me to flee." It's in the choices you and your partner make along the way.
This is the part of the article where she lists the various things she does and doesn't want, as the adventurous, unique spirit that she is. Here they are, represented in an easy-to-read table:
|Unique awesome adventurous girls DON'T want someone who...||Unique awesome adventurous girls DO want someone who...|
|Will just let her win an argument to make life easier.||Thinks she is "worth fighting for!"|
|Will clean her up.||Recognizes her for the "beautiful mess" that she is.|
|Merely hears her.||Truly listens to her - with their whole heart.|
|Is exactly like her.||Brings out something new in her.|
|Will settle down with her.||Go on wild adventures with her.|
Again, we see here the desire to be loved and accepted for who you are, to be listened to and appreciated and to be with someone who helps her learn and grow and challenges her. This is simply the search for a healthy partner in life.
Mixed in, of course, are some stereotype-based fears. Someone who thinks you're worth fighting for is different than someone who wants to fight with you all the time. Fighting all the time doesn't mean you are passionate, it means you disagree a lot.
Settling down doesn't take away opportunities for adventure, nor does routine have to be devoid of passion. For some people, having a routine sets them free to live their passion and adventure more fully.
"Settling" doesn't have to be a dirty word. It doesn't have to mean accepting something less than you deserve. It can also just mean that you relax, let your guard down, and find the freedom in not constantly pushing against something in life. That you let the people in your life see you and know you without worrying about what kind of person they are seeing. That you just be with them and see what happens. It is so freeing to just let go of your need to be different and just live your life.
A simpler manifesto.
If your partner is obsessed with big, fancy weddings, business suits, dressing their children in designer clothes, and advancing in a stressful career to get all those things, whereas you would rather live and love in a hippie commune, then you will butt heads a lot and it probably won't be a good relationship.
What I'm arguing against is manifestos that pit "adventurous" girls agains "regular" girls and that pitch being accepted for who you are is a revolutionary concept. I'm arguing against rallying cries demanding all the joy of intimacy without any sacrifice or compromise and that use superficial judgements and material trappings as indications of a person's passion, adventure, personal growth, and love. I'm arguing against them because they are manifestos of fear, insecurity, and image-crafting, as opposed to manifestos of genuine love and acceptance.
So go forth. Live your adventurous life however you see fit, and by all means, look for a partner who will share your goals and love and accept you for who you are. Let go, be yourself, accept and even like yourself, invest in the people and things that matter to you, compromise, be kind, let go of expectations, forget about categorizing yourself or others, and don't worry about external, superficial markers of life.