In the midst of this Valentine’s Day season, I did some thinking about our generation and its relationship with love. Our women have become #bosses: independent, free-thinking and spirited people with astronomical goals and plans to achieve them. It’s amazing. And in turn, there have been a ton of changes in our choices around relationships.
Despite seeing engagement after engagement in my news feed, I feel like the overwhelming consensus here in New York City is that women don’t need men to be happy. We take care of ourselves, pay for our own stuff, make our own decisions and are achieving our own success.
And that’s exactly right. We do not need men anymore.
But not needing men doesn’t mean that being in a relationship can’t enrich our life. Being in a relationship doesn’t have to mean that you are a weak and dependent woman. In my personal experience being in a relationship for over 7 years, I can honestly say that I feel like it has made me a better and stronger person.
I noticed that with all of my personal goals and time allocated to achieving them, I think about myself a lot. Even though we all have friends and may even do volunteer work or donate to charity regularly, being in a relationship is a personal connection all its own. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile is.
Being in a relationship has taught me how to stand up for things I truly care about. John and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, and we don’t always have the exact same priorities. I’ve learned to recognize that every human being is different, and no matter how close you are with someone, you aren’t going to agree on everything. There are some times when I insist on what I believe in, and that’s really important.
On the flip side, I’ve learned to compromise, and see issues from another point of view. I know ‘putting yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is a common saying, but I believe that actually being able to do so is a learned skill. When John and I are discussing an issue (aka fighting, not gonna pretend to be perfect), it’s crazy how my outlook may completely change the second I truly try to understand where his point of view is coming from. I’ve noticed that when I bring this skill into other areas of my life, it really helps me to be more diplomatic and understanding.
John also taught me to give. In a world where we are trained to spread our attention on multiple things at a time, giving someone undivided attention is like a lost art form. It’s honestly really hard for me, because I’m always thinking about the thousand things I want to get done in a limited amount of time. But it’s nice to put everything down for a minute and remember what real connection feels like. Sometimes John will literally need to take the phone or laptop out of the my hand, and on the rare occasions when I don’t snatch them right back, I find that I appreciate our time together even more.
I’m also inspired by John’s generosity, and how he always looks out for me. He helps me prepare for work in the morning, puts on my jewelry on when the clasp is too small and I can’t see what I’m doing, buttons my pants when I have to pee and my nails are wet, makes sure I get the best seat in a restaurant and always gives the bigger slice of pizza. It feels good to be loved like that.
While I was working on this piece, I stumbled upon an article in my newsfeed (that damn multi-tasking again!) on the Huffington post titled Getting marred is not an accomplishment. The author discusses her discontent with the idea that women get more praise for having a ring put on their finger than they get for career-related accomplishments. I’m not really sure where she’s coming from, since this definitely isn’t the culture here in NYC. I’m always most concerned with what people do than whether they’re in a relationship. Although I do agree that the measure of a woman isn’t her man, the author writes something that I found crazy:
‘You don’t need to have a brain, drive or special skill to get married. You just have to have a willing partner.’
I’m not even married yet, so it’s not like I’m not defending my own situation, but I feel that getting someone to want to spend the rest of their life with you, man or woman, is an accomplishment. It’s not the easiest thing to do, especially in our time, when it’s harder than ever to focus on and connect with people.
We are in an unprecedented time. Women can accomplish anything we set out to, and we don’t need anyone to support us. We choose who we want to be with based on personality, connection, compatibility and attraction – not only on someone’s financial status. Everyone is saying that marriage is doomed, based on the fact that divorce rates are higher than ever. But I think our generation may be different. We don’t feel forced to be in a relationship that we don’t really want to be in, and when we do choose to enter a relationship we are doing it for the right reasons. Whether or not everyone believes in the old-fashioned idea of marriage, I do believe that we will still see long-lasting relationships in our lifetime.
So while our relationship status shouldn’t define us, I do respect anyone who has been able to keep one alive. And I am definitely proud to be a GF in a time when being in a relationship isn’t cool.
Happy Valentine’s Day 💕