The Difficulties of Being Single vs. the Difficulties of Being in a Long-Term Monogamous Relationship


Single: The Unseemliness of the Internet Date

Being single can elicit a lot of despair. A normal person with normal amounts of charisma and social ability cannot just walk into a bar and happen upon a relationship when he or she desires to do so. Finding a relationship post-college is an arduous and often humiliating process that involves many strategies, the majority of which require the user to subject him or herself to uncomfortable and what some might say are unseemly situations.

Perhaps the most unseemly of these situations is the internet date. The whole process – from the initial online “flirts” to the moment you first meet and know that there is no way that you’ll be seeing this person again – is usually something you force yourself through, the whole time knowing “internet dating” is theoretically below your standard code of behavior while at the same time recognizing that you’re bowing to the pressure of loneliness and, functionally, breaking your standard code of behavior, thus becoming “one who internet dates.” If you’re honest with yourself, you must then grudgingly accept this new identity with embarrassment, shame, etc., and proceed to look down upon the person with whom you’re on the date (and vice versa), because you both are now in the same club (“those that internet date”), and that club is a club with which it is shameful to be associated.

Long-Term Monogamous Relationship: The Less-Than-Ideal Nature of Monotony

Those in long-term monogamous relationships do not need any more to deal with the unseemliness of the internet date – it is no longer a necessary social ritual. Sex, the comfort of another, and emotional support are, in many relationships, readily available without the necessity of money or elaborate mating displays, and this is maybe one of the most attractive reasons for ‘settling down.’

But after some time – perhaps six months, perhaps a year, perhaps, even, two years, the presence of a partner can feel much less exciting than it used to, and the thought of spending time with another person or some fantasy being might become a very compelling one. But being in a long-term monogamous relationship requires a sort of sacrifice and that sacrifice is one of romantic contact with anyone other than your partner. And when your partner feels less exciting, and the thought of one outside the relationship becomes more exciting, what’s left is a feeling of being trapped, indefinitely (as the goal of long-term monogamous relationships is to stay together forever, not some limited time span), in a less than ideal situation that will never be as exciting as you might perceive an encounter with someone else.

“Amazed by how even the pool of potential prospects seems unsatisfactory.”

Single: An Unclear and What Some Might Say Terrifying Idea of How Long You’re Going to be (on the Dark Side of) Single

But if not love or a genuine, positive companionship, the loneliness and the resistance to putting oneself back on the dating market and the development of dependence and the sincere belief that one’s life would probably be incomprehensible without the other often keeps people bound. Because being single can be lonely and full of excruciating moments such as the following: waking up and realizing that all you’re going to do today is eat breakfast, get dressed, go to work, eat lunch, come home, eat a Hot Pocket or whatever, look at the internet, and go to sleep, the whole time feeling acutely aware of how far away a romantic interaction feels; days without prospects that stretch into remorseless weeks, then months, until you notice that when someone touches your arm as some sort of polite gesture you’re highly – almost inappropriately – aware of it; any slight sense of a prospect you scare off with overthinking and awkward pauses and wrong sentences; and nights spent clicking through dating websites, amazed by how each profile seems to say the exact same, boring thing. Amazed by how even the pool of potential prospects seems unsatisfactory.

Long-Term Monogamous Relationship: An Unclear and What Some Might Say Terrifying Idea of How Long You’re Going to be in a Long-Term Monogamous Relationship

Until you meet someone that you know you need to stay with. You know you need to stay with this person because this person possesses things unknown which when you catch glimpses of they are amazing and you feel a great relief because this is indeed what you have been searching for. And for a while it’s perfect.

But difficulties soon arrive. Commitment issues emerge. Issues with depression and happiness surface. Problems with sex crash the party. The person you once pined over and were thrilled about and with whom all your interactions felt so easy and graceful has turned into a difficult, staunch, adversary who has suddenly become many things that you do not want to deal with because dealing with them means a step into extreme discomfort, hours of talking and attempting to see the world through someone else’s perception.

Eventually you start wishing that things were easier, because “relationships shouldn’t be this difficult” (naive), and you start noticing attractive potential-if-you-were-single mates walking past you on the sidewalk, for example, and one day you realize, uncomfortably, that when you commit to a person in a relationship, you commit to their problems, and that it is not feasible to think of one’s problems as simple equations, as ‘obstacles’ that can be concretely overcome. Your partner’s so-called ‘issues’ are so closely connected to your partner’s personality that they’re actually informing it – both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parts. That sometimes the same ‘issues’ that make you insane also fuel positive aspects of your partner’s personality. And so ‘solving’ a problem in effect turns into trying to ‘change’ a person. Which, as it is well-known, can be an extremely difficult and contested issue to navigate.

Your Life: (One of) the Final Decision(s)

At this juncture you have a decision to make. You must either accept or reject the person and his or her ‘issues’/personality. Accept it and commit to slowly working through and/or getting used to a person on a deep level – for ‘forever’ (because it would be unrealistic to commit to accepting someone for, for example, two years), and commit to the ‘unexitedness’ of monogamy (i.e. the goal of making yourself believe that you don’t want that kind of excitement anymore) – or reject it and spend nights alone, looking through dating websites, sometimes having awkward one-night stands, and simply waiting, bleakly, for the next long-term monogamous relationship to fall into your lap.

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