Recently, someone asked me how my love life was going, and the question itself gave me pause. I'm currently single; I knew the question was in regard to my romantic relationship status. Even so, I didn't want to answer it, because my life with regard to love given and received is more than romantic love. I have friends, family, coworkers, mentors, mentees, and acquaintances. These relationships matter: when they're going well, I'm happier than when they aren't. When I need to feel loved, I can reach out and ask for affection, even though I'm not in a romantic relationship. And when I am hurt, or when I find I've hurt someone, I feel the betrayal with the same pain. I finally answered with, "my romantic life is non-existent. My relational life is really interesting." After all, I am a human being, moving through time and space; like all bodies that do so, I do it in relation to other bodies doing the same thing. In that sense, I'm a member of the human galaxy, moving in closer and farther relationships to all the other eternal bodies.
In the most basic sense, I think that we do ourselves a disservice when relationships of a romantic nature are placed above all the other kinds of relationships. Not only is it impossible for any partner to fill every relational need within a person, it's impossible to be the partner that does that. It's just as dangerous to imagine oneself to be a Romantic Messiah as it is to believe you're dating one. Beyond that, it compartmentalizes lessons that might carry over into different kinds of relationships. If I look exclusively to prior dating relationships for what makes me a good girlfriend (or a bad girlfriend), I have a small handful of examples to choose from. If I look at what makes me a good friend (or bad friend) I have dozens-- and it's not too difficult to translate what works and what doesn't into a developing partnership.
Since I've changed my mindset from "in a relationship/not in a relationship" to "in relationship to other human beings, none of them romantically/in relationship to other human beings, one of them romantically," certain kinds of loneliness have evaporated, the kind that casts blame and makes me consider myself a pariah. Of course, I'd rather have the lack of a romantic relationship fixed, but re-assessing the size of that missing piece, realizing that it isn't the end of the world, has been wonderful. And, in the time I could be pining, I invest in the people I'm already in relationship with. I work my way around the little solar systems and find out how I can be a better friend, sister, daughter, employee, etc. I get to learn lessons from all of them. I get to learn how to love better, and that benefits everyone.
Given a choice, I'd rather remember I'm not a lone star. I'm a member of the galaxy.
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