I am a goose. At one time my friends were ducks, and some have become geese, too, but I have been a goose for quite some time now.
When did the pursuit of love become more interesting, important, valued, trendy, active, cherished, and most importantly talked about than actually finding love itself, and being in love, and being loved? Magazine columns, blogs, newspaper editorials, tv shows, reality shows, grocery store aisle conversations, spa talk-- it all seems, lately, to be centering around the impossibility of finding love, or the "chase." When did women all of a sudden stop decrying the chase, and get in on it? Men have been criticized for years, decades, no doubt, over their love of the cat-and-mouse game, the uncertainty, "playing the field," bach-ing it. But ladies seem to be showing a suspicious penchant for all of the same. Which brings me to my points: when did relationships become a means rather than an end?
Allow me to explain. Basically, it goes like this. Try to refute this as they may (and I'm sure they will), my lady friends became much less interested in my life, particularly my weekend nights, when I started a relationship. [Disclaimer: For the sake of this post, I will be relating the conversations that my friends and I have about relationships. This should not be extrapolated to mean that the entirety of our conversations are comprised of such talk.] I realized this in the first year and a half or so of college, during Sunday morning brunch. Before, when my group of friends was cohesive [read: hadn't fallen apart], we would get together Sunday mornings and have a long, fattening, dish-heavy brunch. I started to notice a correlation between how "single" we were (if we were all "Ducks") and how long our talks lasted. Because the truth is, women are much more interested in hearing about attempted romances, failed dates, would-be hookups and all the games in between than anything else, and that anything else includes the one thing they seem to be searching for when involved in all the above: a good relationship.
When I was a Duck, too, I don't think I noticed this trend. The beginning of my freshman year of college, I was involved with Big Relationship, but it was on the rocks, falling apart, and frankly dramatic enough that it warranted its own place my friends, the single girls', conversations. After that relationship ended, I was thrown into the world of the Ducks for the first time in four years, and that world is, I can say even now objectively and subjectively, much more highly-charged than the world of the Goose. After the end of my Big Relationship, there were a string of Ducks and maybe one or two Would-Be-Geese, although they hardly deserve the distinction. During this time, between my Freshman fall and Sophomore falls, I was an insider in the conversations that I am only an outsider of. Things were going wrong constantly. S. couldn't get the Duck she wanted and couldn't get rid of the Duck she didn't, C. was in my position of having recently lost a long-time Goose and didn't know quite how to go about getting another one, T. never wanted a goose to begin with and regaled us all with amusing, heartwarming and sometimes horrifying stories of other Ducks, and P. entered college a Goose, quickly became a Duck, quickly found another Goose, and nested with him for most of the winter. It was a dramatic and crazy time and frankly, I don't miss it at all.
When we were all Ducks, the conversation could revolve around chance encounters with other Ducks and was decidedly anti-Goose. I didn't quite know what it was like to be on the outside of that until Sophomore fall, when I had my heart set on a Goose that also happened to be my best friend (you know him by now as L., and the story of how he became my Goose is yet to come). I will say that finding him was like finding the goose that laid the golden egg, if you will. Between Sophomore fall and my L., I had to rule out the Soccer-Obsessed (not bad at all in his own right, just not for me), Self-Absorbed (he was really more of a Duck), Guilt-Trip (also known as In-Love-With-My-Best-Friend), the Friend-With-Benefits (with whom I still remain great friends to this day), and one of my favorites, the total Jerk, who not only dreaded confrontation (read: talking) but also attempted to pass himself off to be one of the most promising and caring potential Geese to date at that point. Who knew?
That summer I began a confusing and emotionally draining relationship with a guy who could have many titles (High-School-Teacher, Cheater, Sweet-Talker, Inconsiderate-Actions-Don't-Match-Wonderful-Words), but we'll just call him Summer Romance, since despite my almost-21 years of life, he's really the only true Summer Romance I've had. With this brief rundown of failed romances, you can see how food for thought was never low. Multiply all this by five, because the lives of my fellow females, if not more complicated, at least as actively frustrating.
I also can't really extricate my friends from the problems with the aforementioned failed romances since some of them failed in part to inter-friend dating on the parts of the men, for which I don't blame my friends or the men but really just will note here as an important side note of detail and then move on.
My life may be much more simple and settled and ordinary now that these would-be-romances have ended, for now at least and hopefully for much longer, but I never realized it was boring. But that seems to be the case, since without drama or complication my dating life seems to be borderline nonexistant. It was a frustrating time, after all the complication with L. was cleared up and we began our happy life as two birds of a feather, because suddenly my love life (the operative word being love, and the one thing that was missing from my friends' encounters) wasn't of value anymore. I can't even recall how many meals I sat in on with my friends at the beginning of Sophomore year, and listened to endless strings of party encounters, chance flirtations and unsuccessful hookups, only for when it became my turn to share my weekend's events the meal was suddenly ended; someone forgot they had somewhere to be, someone had to run to a meeting/rehearsal/class.
Sure, my relationship got some press during the first few weeks, when the girls were excited to hear about all the firsts, especially since L. had been the male cohort in my female group of friends and had, himself, been along for the ride with us of searching for love at college. Well, if not actively searching, than at least noticing the lack thereof. This union of two frustrated Ducks in the friend group took care of a big chunk of angsty yearning for love among us, but it also doubled our subsequent un-interesting-ness factor afterward. If I couldn't get a word in edgewise at Sunday brunch about how L. and I spent our weekend, the idea that we could share our stories and funny anecdotes together at a meal was pure scoff.
I also notice that I'm beginning to sound bitter about this, and I want to reiterate that I really am not. I love my friends, single or taken, very much, but wish that I didn't have to seek out another relationship-involved Goose to have some quality girl-talk.
I may not have as many shocking brunch stories to reveal now that I've been out of the world of dating for quite some time (almost ten months), but I am happier than ever. Which brings me to part two, and a new post.
[Images from Softie Making, Seeds of Growth]