Inspired by the danger of a single story by Chimamanda Adichie.
Why is it that whenever someone says that they are in a relationship, friends flock to congratulate the person. Even though, some may not feel that it will not last or that that new person is may turn out to be a bastard or a serial killer?
Why is it that whenever someone says that they are now single again, friends again flock with condolences. Even though, that relationship was bad from the start, with bickering, fighting and distrust and it was better off breaking up?
Why is that even when these 2 events happened within a span of 1 or 2 week, friends will still offer congratulations and condolences within the same breathe, as if its an automatic response that they must do in order to show that they care about their friends. Or is this really how we should show genuine care for a friend?
Why do some people keep on to a bad relationship, fighting, bickering and distrusting; as if, one cannot survived outside that relationship and be happy and one is not whole without being in a relationship and all that victimizing of oneself something worth pursuing?
Why do people hang on to old relationships and old dreams and constantly torture themselves over those loses as if they are actually proud to have such a war scar and constantly poking at it so that it doesn’t heal? Any wise doctor will tell you that its better not to start a war than to go to war and have a war scar?
Why is single-hood so vilified, so bad that its better to be in a relationship and everyone is happy to see you in one? Why doesn’t friends congratulate you when you rejoin the single-hood scheme and offer condolences when you leave that gang and go into a relationship? Can’t people be even more happier being single (with lots of good friends) than in a bad relationship?
If single-hood is so bad, why do many spiritual leaders recommend single-hood as a path the purity and relationship as a hindrance?
Why do we call the other party, the other half, as if we are only half the person we are by ourselves, incomplete, useless and unhappy?
Why do we say that we are attached when in a relationship, like a sucker fish getting a free ride and burdening with its weight on the host from moving as fast?
A single story of relationship is what a lot of us grow up with.
Tales like of snow white and sleeping beauty rescued by Prince Charming living happily ever after, pepper our tiny minds as we grow up. Songs on the radio talks about how good it is to fall in love, to yearn for the one you cannot have, to feel jealous over a 3rd party and to torture ourselves over a lost love. Romantic love stories pepper every movie, soap opera and novel we read. We are constantly bombarding by the idea that relationships is good and desirable that it makes us feel guilty, useless and fearful when we cannot get into one or when we end a love relationship with someone.
Being single has instead mostly been portrait as a loser, sad and lonely and in many instances pathological and psychotic killers, especially in the movies. What percentage of movies, songs and novels that you know tells a single story?
The single story is most pathological within the gay men community. The single story re-enforces the low self-image, self-confidence and insecurity already in the gay men. Why is the gym-only culture so predominant in the gay community? Why do some gay men continue to build up their body, outside the normal portion of their skeletal structure, in order to feel that they are attractive enough. Even though, some looks like a cast from Beetlejuice, with a small head and enormous body? Even though, some looks like Tweety bird with big body but tiny and skinny legs? What feeds the circuit parties in Taiwan with drunkards, smokers and party drugs? What feeds our desires to
Gay men feel guilty to break up and some try to keep their relationships going despite being total strangers to each other. Others are told that if they were to break up their 9 – 10 year relationships, then there is no hope for good lasting relationships anymore. Many gay men come out to the circle mainly to look for a partner for no other reasons and will retreat back to where the come from immediately after finding one. Even more gay men become pathologically angry, depressed and even suicidal with the constant yearning for that lost opportunity and lost love. Why do gay men or anyone need to torture themselves after the relationship or for one that is not there, where there are so many more things to that are beautiful in this world?
I don’t claim to offer any solutions to any of these, but perhaps its time that we have more than a single story.
I am not implying here that there are no such thing as a fairy tale romance, good relationships or that it is less desirable. Nor am I saying that single-hood is the best. What I am saying is, perhaps it is time to break out of that single story about relationships, so that people have more alternatively idea of happiness as they grow up and as they meet friends. Perhaps the next time when we congratulate someone over a marriage or a new relationship and console someone over a broken one, we should think if we are actually helping to perpetuating the single story of the happiness of a relationship.
Lastly, a beautiful sermon from Ajahn Brahm about Letting Go.