Rebellious Relationships

Originally posted at Rebellious Woman Magazine

A few years ago, I was lamenting over my love life – I think I had just broken up with my last serious boyfriend – and my friend, Sabrina, said to me, “You are a different kind of person, living a different kind of life, and you’re going to have a different kind of relationship. That takes a really special kind of guy.”

So special, I’m beginning to think that he may not even exist.

To heterosexual date while feminist is an interesting challenge. Some say to date men is inherently anti-feminist. I think this is bullshit. I do, however, recognize how difficult it is to challenge your own gender normativity and privilege while trying to interact and have relationships with people who largely aren’t thinking about such things. I find that most guys, even when interested, are intimidated either by my knowledge or the threat of how that knowledge relates to them and their behavior. What I’ve come to learn about all relationships is they work best when both individuals are self-aware and willing to own up to their personal struggle.  Culturally, men have been raised to never question who they are – “Boys will be boys.” I’d be way more accepting of the “Boys will be boys” mentality if more boys thought like this guy:

I recently wrote a blog about my frustrations with dating, specifically with men (Feminist Ryan Gosling excluded, obviously he is perfect) in a somewhat general way, though directly from the perspective of my lived experiences. The blog was angry, as was I when I wrote it.   I was angry at “men” – for not calling, for not showing up, for not having to take any of the responsibility of creating and cultivating a relationship, for building a nation that purposefully excluded me and keeps me from having rights and power over my body and my choices.

But, the truth is, I am angry with myself. Not because I’m 33 and single. Because I’m 33 and counting…the days since he’s called, what’s left of my child bearing years, how long it will be until I have visible wrinkles and if I will be married by then…

I’ve tried pretty hard to reframe my timelines and to unlearn the systemic trajectory that says our lives should follow a certain path – college, job, marriage, babies – in order for us to be happy or successful or valuable. The one place I can’t seem to get flexible is in my romantic relationships. I still look to relationships with men to make me feel good about myself. No matter how much fun I have with the ladies, no matter what kind of exhilarating high I get from performing, from getting published, from being me – it’s just not the same as the feeling I get when there is a boy who likes me.  Am I right?!

What I struggle with these days is how to maintain a happy, fun life while still looking for someone to share it with.  How to not let the looking take over or how to not be so available because we all know what turn off that is. How do we find the balance  – how do we feel good about the feelings we get from relationships without depending on them for our personal fulfillment?

These are the questions, complications and insights I’m struggling with. Whether it is your boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, boss…relationships are the heart of this human experience and feminism, y’all, is for everyone.

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