I love love. And I know you do too. I know you do because, like me, you love to read love stories, get excited to share wedding pics and once believed that love was the answer to everything.
Well, wake up buttercup. Love is beautiful, but it is not the answer when you build on a weak foundation. I love romance, but it doesn’t always last.
There is a Divorce Every 36 Seconds
Even though divorce has been dropping, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, “there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds*. That’s nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 876,000 divorces a year.”
Just by these statistics, we’ve come to understand that breaking up is common. And those are just the statistics for legal marriages.
When you add in the numbers of unmarried people who were part of meaningful relationships that just didn’t last, you can see where I’m going.
There is Nothing Wrong With You
In the United States, in particular, there is an obsession with falling and staying in love. Married people are often seen as better than single people.
If you can’t find or keep love, people wonder what is wrong with you.
But what people often don’t take into consideration is that the “love” feelings alone that initially brings a couple together is unsustainable.
But You Do Need Skills
The infatuation stage is fueled by chemicals, obsession and the newness of a connection. That stage lasts about 6 to 9 months. After that, a couple who truly wants to make it work needs to develop some critical skills (communication, commitment, planning, etc.) to make it last.
And even the couples with the best of intentions and who have mastered these skills, sometimes realize that the relationship is just not going to work. And yet we shame people for not making it work and reward people for remaining in troubled relationships.
Relationships don’t work for many reasons. In the U.S. in particular, singleness is on the rise and so are unconventional relationships. Even though same-sex marriage is legalized (for now), queer people are more likely to embrace unconventional relationships that may or may not include a poly lifestyle, monogamish relationships or those who are committed but intentionally living apart.
And any, all or none of those combinations are okay.
No One Owes You a Happily Ever After
Even though marriage is declining in the heterosexual community, queers seem to love weddings. In the lesbian community, in particular, we seem to be enamored with the idea of people staying together forever.
And if they don’t stay together, we assume that one partner was more responsible than the other.
The other day I noticed a popular and attractive young couple on Instagram had to come to each other’s defense when they broke up. Their hordes of fans were so disappointed when they broke up and started attacking one of them. That was definitely not cool. No couple in the public eye owes you a relationship period.
Where’s the Sympathy?
We idolize couples in love. Especially black lesbian couples because we don’t often see them in the public eye. We went crazy when we saw that one of the main characters in a superhero show on the CW, Black Lightning, was a lesbian with a black girlfriend.
But the reality is that not all relationships last. For some reason or another, it will come to an end. And you’d think considering the numbers of relationships that end folks would be more, not less sympathetic.
I know women who’ve had relationships that ended after 5, 10, 20 years. And I know you have too.
There is no wrong age to be single. It’s okay to be in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, etc. and be single.
Stop buying into the hetero fairytale that tells you that you will live happily ever after when your princess in shining armor comes along. Yuck. That only promotes the disturbing save-a-hoe complex that can cause power imbalances and abuses in relationships.
Plus, it only addresses the beginning stages of the relationship, not the work it takes to maintain it. Those fairytales also don’t account for the fact that sometimes your happily ever after means leaving an unhealthy or unfulfilling relationship.
While we are at it, I’d like to share several reasons why relationships end that don’t include infidelity:
- Got to know the partner and don’t like them
- Realizing that you’re not interested in monogamy
- Realizing your partner cannot handle non-monogamy
- Getting to know and love and approve yourself–many of us center our worth and validation entirely around a partner
- Having a partner who cannot celebrate your successes
- Deciding to take care of yourself. Some of us have been socialized to be the caretaker in your relationship to the extent where you can’t even care for yourself
- You or a partner was not able or willing to negotiate or compromise
- You or a partner was emotionally unavailable
- You or a partner found a great opportunity that no longer aligns with your current relationship
- You or your partner is toxic and unsafe to be around.
Life is all about transforming, growing, knowing, loving and accepting yourself. People are living longer and have more financial options. That means they do not have to be tied to unsafe or unfulfilling marriage or long-term relationships unless they choose to. Some people are there only to join us on the journey for a short period of time.