(For the people who read this – yes, all five of you! – I am totally not dead. Not even a little bit. But I am recovering from being sick, yet again.)
Time for more of Shay’s hilarious and probably not useful advice on dating! Today I’d like to talk about Being Serious.
So it’s possible your parents/family/pets have been nagging you about settling down, getting married, and spawning a few smaller versions of yourself. There are variations on this theme, of course, but it all really comes under the heading of When Are You Going to Get Serious?
Which is absolute bullshit, of course, because it implies that your life isn’t serious now. Seriousness in this context is pretty much equated to ‘we don’t like how you live your life/we think you should be doing something different.’ That is BAD. Talking in back-handed ways about how someone likes to spend their time because you, personally, disapprove of it is BAD. We don’t put up with it when right-wing idiots talk shit about gay people, and we shouldn’t put up with it when it comes from family either.
Anyway. Seriousness. It means something different to me.
In relationships, it’s all as serious as you want it to be. It can be serious like ‘LET US BONK EACH OTHER INTO A COMA AND THEN NEVER SPEAK AGAIN’ or like ‘Do you take this [insert noun here] to be your lawfully wedded spouse’. That’s what I mean by seriousness. You can sort of measure it by the level of how much you merge your life with someone else’s.
Point is, though, that you choose your level of merging.
I don’t normally use myself as an example, but here goes: I have a partner. We have been together for, eh, quite a long time. We’re merged to the point of single-entity-hood, to the point where we both start going just a little nuts if we’re apart for more than a day or two. We’ve spent a long time inside each other’s lives.
One of my esteemed friends also has a partner. But she has her own life, with very strict boundaries, and there are many places in her life where her partner cannot go.
Of course, both of us love our respective partners in much the same way. But our level of seriousness varies.
And it doesn’t reflect on how we feel.
Maybe you’ve been told that you’re not really in love because you’re not serious. This is also bullshit, my friends. It’s pretty easy to be in love, and then keep someone at arm’s length for other reasons. I mean, it’s what you’re supposed to do before you commit to Getting Serious, before you figure out if you even can Get Serious with this other person.
It’s okay to be rational about your relationships while still having the crazy feelings that go along with them. You just need to know which bits of the relationship are you being rational, and which bits are you having ALL THE FEELINGS. Don’t get them confused, if you can, and don’t let people judge you for either.
The last and most important thing is that you need to be sure your level of seriousness matches that of your partner(s). (Yes, you can have more than one.) Lots of relationships go the way of the dodo because someone didn’t talk to someone else, and then assumptions were made, and then it turned out that they were in love but they were only looking for a fling, or they wanted to buy a house together but they just liked things as they were… You get the idea. It’s a pretty shitty situation all around if one person wants to merge their life with another person who would really prefer not to.
I guess I’m making this sound kinda doofy or scary. Mostly, I’m just saying you should talk to your partner more and not listen to your parents when they say stupid shit about your love life.
However serious you get in a relationship should be the level that works for you, the level at which you are most comfortable. You don’t need to Get Serious any more than you need to Be Less Serious, as long as it works for you and your partner(s) are down with it. Either way, the only people whose opinions you need to consider are the people you want to Get Serious with – not your parents, not your family, not random strangers, not talkshow hosts, not Martians. It’s your life, and they don’t know it as well as you do.