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In defense of relationships

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APRIL 23, 2013

The single life is amazing. Nobody to answer to, no one else’s needs to take into account when making big decisions. You can have sex with whomever you want, and if you get bored of one partner, there’s nothing stopping you from moving to the next. It gets glamorized as an endless string of parties, the slow montage of sensual men and women, each beckoning to you with the promise of pleasure.

Sure, it has its merits, but what I don’t understand is why some single people go so far in embracing singledom that they end up bashing relationships. Too many friends of mine have told me they avoid relationships because they seem boring or uninspired. Maybe being with one person is too serious at this stage in our lives, or maybe relationships appear to offer less fun when compared to the revelry of flying solo.

But are things really that simple? In my experience, being in a relationship means that you’ve found someone who likes you as much as you like them. A relationship doesn’t seem too hard to find, but dating in Berkeley is surprisingly difficult. Allow me to rephrase: Dating in general is surprisingly difficult. You go through the standard conversation of getting to know each another — hometown, major, music taste, other interests. In order to actually get a sense of each another, you have to invest a big pretty big chunk of time in the other person. And then, more often than not, you find the “but.” She laughs at all your jokes, but you guys have diametrically opposed political views. He’s a really sweet guy, but there’s no chemistry. They have X, but you want Y.

The person you actually like enough to start a relationship with usually becomes the person closest to you. As the intimacy grows, so does the realization that your partner finds all the different versions of you attractive — the 8 a.m. grouch, the inner pouting child, the sassy flirt. You’re just as likely to get laid hanging out in pajamas on a lazy Sunday afternoon as you are dressing up and going out to a bar. Easy, frequent and (hopefully) good sex — you’ve hit the jackpot.

Not to mention you can try all those kinky things you’ve been curious about. In my experience, trying new things comes with erotic excitement, but it also happens to be stressful. When you’re in a relationship, you have a person now who knows what gets you off, whom you trust, who’s willing to experiment. Imagine asking a one-night stand to indulge your foot fetish or use anal beads on you. It’s much easier exploring new things with a boyfriend or girlfriend, with whom there’s a sense of emotional stability and safety.

For me, the major attraction of single sex is the novelty. Who doesn’t like flirting with a complete stranger, enjoying not only the attention but also the chance to discover their turn-ons and quirks? You get to play cat and mouse, and you fall into bed together, eager to explore. There’s the thrill of having sex for the first time with an unfamiliar body that responds to your touch in a completely unique way. That first time may not be seamless, but it sure as hell is fun.

I’m by no means saying relationships are perfect. They’re stressful and messy, and you and your partner might end up isolating yourselves from the world. Sleeping with the same person makes it easy to fall into a sex rut. You end up doing the same positions in the same order, because they’re familiar and you’re guaranteed to get off on it. Your sexual dynamic goes on autopilot, and you stop surprising each other. It happened to me, and I didn’t even realize it until I found myself eyeing every male within a 20-foot radius. Luckily, the situation was easily remedied by pouncing on my partner later that night and making sure to mix things up.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I enjoy my time being in a relationship more than my time being single. I’m drawn to the opportunity to develop an increasingly deep connection with someone, to have them be intimately entwined in my goals, dreams and fears. I guess you could say I’m attracted to the romance of it.

Maybe it’s a reverse case of the “grass is greener on the other side” mentality. We feel like we need to defend whatever lifestyle we’re currently in at the expense of devaluing the alternative. Or maybe the people who argue there are “types” are right.

I’ve always scoffed at that idea, that some people are just predisposed to prefer coupledom or singledom. But really, we change so much over the course of our lives (or even the few years we spend in college) that it seems hasty to divide everyone into a nice, neat binary.

Whatever the case, we should strive for happiness in our personal lives. If you find playing the field and single sex better, by all means, stick to that. But keep in mind that doesn’t make being in a duo any less fun.

Contact Elisabeth Bahadori at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @lisabaha.

APRIL 17, 2015