Redefining Modern Relationships

Simon Blish

One day I will stop moaning about my inability to have a normal relationship – but I suspect the moaning will continue until a harmonious relationship has been achieved, sorry!

If you’re as keen as I am on this debate then you may have stumbled upon Helen Croydon’s article in the Independent last week outlining her own disapproval of monogamy and conventional coupledom, and her preference for a single lifestyle.

Croydon goes through the history of co-dependent monogamy and states that we now live in an era where such relationships have been made redundant. We no longer need to rely on our significant other for economic and social reasons meaning that the practical purposes for a two-some are diminished. However, for some reason many peoples’ idea of a ‘proper relationship’ is complete dependence and devotion to the other – anything less can be seen as not being a ‘proper relationship’. Furthermore, she proclaims her own proud pro-single choice and concludes with the idea that we are lucky to live in an era that allows us to enjoy romantic relationships rather than lean on them.

Whether or not her arguments are heavily biased based on her own single preference is obviously a very valid question, and I don’t personally identify completely with her point of view. What I did take from this wasn’t so much an absolute truth but more a dialogue about autonomy and dependence in relationships.

I doubt I’m the only one who finds relationships difficult (although some of my friends find them overwhelmingly easy, and that’s very lucky I guess) – and I’m starting to think there’s actually nothing wrong with me. It’s just that I don’t want a relationship where my significant other is the yin to my yang, a piece of a puzzle, or a soul mate that I’ve been missing all my life.

Lately my dating adventures have exposed this friction quite prominently. After just a couple of dates suddenly invitations are not longer pronounced but assumed; ‘Oh, so what do you want to do this Friday?’ To which my repose often is ‘Erm… it’s a Friday night, I already have plans – we didn’t make plans!?’ And then I get paranoid – am I allowed to go to a party or the cinema without him? Does it make me a bad person for wanting to do stuff without him?

I’ve always thought I have intimacy issues or I’m terrible at commitment, but I’ve realised that I just don’t fit into the mould of a completely dependable relationship. My life isn’t set up for it – and the idea that it should be causes nothing but anxiety and a fear that I’m not fulfilling an illusionary goal.

What I’ve learned is that after years of being single I’ve gotten used to my independence and my autonomy, to the point where it’s inherently part of my personality. I don’t need a significant other for holidays, gigs, dinners, theatre shows, poetry slams, cocktails, or weekend breaks – my life involves all those things without him.

I’m not saying I don’t want a monogamous relationship – but obviously if you do, that’s your choice and you should be happy with that choice. But what I now know I want is a relationship where I co-exist with another person as an individual entity in a two-some. I want to embark upon my life path, with someone else’s in parallel and not compromise my personality and lifestyle for an idealised fantasy of what a relationship should be.

Eternal singledom isn’t for me – but a ‘traditional’ relationship isn’t either. I think it’s important we have conversations about this on the dating scene as it’s often assumed that you want to be in a dependable relationship where everything is shared, as this idea is so normalised. Of course there are open relationships and polygamy, but that’s not what I’m taking about.

Autonomous monogamy isn’t about having your cake and eating it too or screwing other people whilst sharing someone’s bed – again, if that’s what you want then you should embrace it and be happy with that. I don’t want to give up my single life to be in a relationship, I want my relationship to complement my single life and I want to be with someone similarly minded. Furthermore, my ‘single life’ isn’t my life defined without a partner; it’s my status quo.

The LGBT community is often having conversations and advocating policies about ‘non-conventional’ sexualities, but the same dialogues are not often had about ‘non-conventional’ relationships. Of course we should have the same privileges, rights and opportunities as heterosexuals, but we also have to be careful not to standardise and normalise monogamy in a way that is outdated. Let’s make sure we discuss and negotiate our relationships to not only fit out lifestyles and personalities but also the century we’re very lucky to live in.

About Simon Blish

Writing, drawing, editing - Simon loves it all.