[EDIT: I should have clarified this further before publishing this article. When in situations/settings where looking for romantic partners is expected (bars, clubs, etc.) I’m quite up front about my state of availability and/or interest, because I certainly don’t want to waste anyone’s time who’s trying to get lucky. It’s more benign settings such as school, or work, that I find this to be a difficult situation. ]
I don’t initially tell people that I’m in a committed relationship, especially men. This is in part because it’s not always the first thing that comes up when I talk to people, and in part because I’d like to actually talk to people without them worrying that my partner will come rampaging out of the bushes to beat them up.
Point: I’m a young adult, but I am an autonomous adult, who has value whether or not I’m in a relationship.
Unfortunately, in my experience, this isn’t always the first thing on peoples’ minds when talking to me. And no, I’m not complaining about people mistaking my status for single and attempting to ask me out: I’m flattered when that happens. What disappoints me is the silence I get when I mention my partner in passing, or when (if I don’t catch it soon enough) I have to clarify the situation. It’s like people saying “well, you’re off the market, why would I bother talking to you?”
Let’s take a look at that saying, “off the market”. First off, I’m not a piece of livestock. Back to the point above, I have value in my individual personality regardless of whether I’m “available” or not. And I’m an optimistic person, most of the time. Chances are, I think that you have value regardless of your relationship status.
In all likelihood, if I’ve engaged you in conversation in the first place, I think you’re an interesting person. I think you’re someone who I’d like to get to know better, because I adore being surrounded by fascinating, fun people. I’m lucky enough to have many amazing friends who bring all kinds of wonderful depth into my life, and this exchange of ideas and experiences is what makes the courtship of friends worth it. All those awkward first text messages, facebook interactions, invitations, the dance is all worth it if a connection of value grows.
Let’s take a look at that term now, a “connection of value”. I made that up, but I like it. For me, that means that in knowing each other, we mutually benefit from sharing viewpoints, stories, recommendations, advice, laughter, all these really neat things that we wouldn’t have if we hadn’t met. “Friendship” is an overused term, in these situations. It’s loaded. “Friendship” calls to mind the dreaded (and repeatedly disproven) “friend-zone”. So yes, I’ll call you my friend, because it’s an easy label, and nobody wants to be a personified “connection”. If anyone has a better term than “friend”, let me know. “This guy I know”? Agh.
Point is, when I refrain from saying I’m in a relationship, it’s not because I want to “lead people on”. That’s the furthest thing from my mind. I believe that my relationship status is not the entirety of my being, and I appreciate it when other people think the same thing.
What do you think? Comments are appreciated, I’d really like to know.