TIME Family

My Weight Made My Father Cry

Broken scale
Tim Robberts—Getty Images

I'm not sure how to reconcile my parents' heartbreak over my weight

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

I knew my weight would be an issue when I saw my parents last weekend. It’s always been an issue, but now it’s an Issue. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, pushing 200 pounds, and my parents have entered into an intervention-like mindset.

I’m not writing this to vilify them; they don’t deserve that. If this excessive concern about my excessive weight was the only thing you knew about my parents, you might think they do, but they don’t. I have two of the greatest parents in the world. Together 40 years, they’ve been a beautiful model of a lasting, loving relationship; they’ve displayed wisdom and forgiveness in incredibly difficult situations; and to paraphrase a line in The Descendants (which I finally just saw, so it’s fresh on my mind), they’ve given me enough to do something, but not enough to do nothing.

But they’re human, and humans have personalities, and personalities have flaws. Their shared flaw, in my opinion, is not having boundaries when it comes to my weight. They love me unconditionally; they hate my weight.

Even when I hovered between a slender-yet-curvy size 6 and 8 in my 20s, my parents voiced concerns about my weight. Maybe it’s because my mother had been thinner than me in her 20s or because most of my closest friends have always been thinner than me, but something instilled a fear in them — one that never stayed tucked away in their inner monologues — that I was too big, even when I wasn’t.

And now that I’m definitely too big in their eyes — I wear a 12 or 14 in dresses, a 10 in some pants and skirts — the concern that used to be exhibited with the occasional “Are you sure you want to eat that?”-type comment is now manifesting as tears — actual eyes-welling-up tears.

Last Sunday, at a brunch the day after my niece’s bat mitzvah, I put smoked salmon on my plate, knowing my father would be vocally disappointed if I’d put it on a cream-cheese-covered bagel. He had already complimented me on the food choices I’d been making over the weekend, and while I was glad he’d noticed, I was annoyed he was paying such close attention. Next to the salmon, however, I put a piece of my ex-brother-in-law’s famous noodle kugel.

I sat next to my father on the host’s backyard settee, and I could see in his face that he wanted to say something about the kugel. Before he could, I said, “My friend Meirav wrote an article in Allure a few years ago about losing 100 pounds. She talked about how she’d stopped eating processed junk food but allowed herself truly special once-in-a-while treats, like something homemade by family member,” preemptively justifying the kugel I get to eat three times per decade, but having eaten processed junk food only 72 hours earlier.

“I just hate seeing you like this,” my father said. Ouch. I don’t think I look my all-time best, but I don’t look terrible. “See,” he continued, “now I’m crying.”

I thought he was kidding at first, but he was holding his glasses away from his face and wiping away a real tear.

My emotional response to this was very complicated. Not much makes my father cry, so at first, I felt uncomfortable. Then I felt sad and guilty for having given him a reason to be so upset. But then, I felt hurt and offended. Why should the state of my body make anyone else cry?

“Dad, I’m not that big,” I said. I’ve seen talk shows where the parents of 800-pound bedridden people shed fewer tears over their situation than my parents have over my “situation.”

He reminded me of the heart problems on both sides of my family (he’d had a heart attack as a somewhat overweight 49-year-old), and how my grandmother was diagnosed with diabetes when she was around my size — albeit 15 years older — and that he doesn’t want me to have to go through that. (Ironically, I had brought one of my best friends with me for the festivities last weekend, and there she was sitting next to me, no more than 130 pounds at six feet tall, and recently diagnosed with type II diabetes.)

My father’s tears felt like a loving insult. I know that what he’s upset about is the difficulty my weight could cause me — not about me as a person — but it is me and my choices and my psychological excuses that have led to the weight I’ve gained over the last decade, so the tears make me feel like a failure.

And although my parents’ concern over potential health problems is genuine and legitimate, I feel like it’s also being used as an ethically acceptable cloak for more superficial concerns: that I could be very conventionally attractive, that I would feel more confident and have more options while dating, that, as someone who puts herself in the public eye, I’d be taken more seriously if I just lost the weight.

Perhaps they really do feel that way, or perhaps I’m just assuming they feel that way because, if I’m being honest, I feel that way.

See, despite being on Team Fat Acceptance, I do want to lose weight. I want to lose the same 50 pounds that my parents want me to lose. I want to do it for health and superficial reasons. And I cry about it sometimes.

But, for some reason, when someone else cries about it, it’s not OK. Even if it’s someone who loves me as much as my father does.

I’m not sure how to reconcile my parents’ heartbreak over my weight with how much it hurts — how crazy and deprecatory it feels — that they’re so heartbroken over my weight. I want them to see that I’m OK. I’m OK as I am. I’ll be OK whether or not I lose weight. Hell, I’ll be OK if I gain weight (which I have no plans to do, by the way).

I love my parents very much, and I hate to see them so upset, but I also hate that they feel entitled to be so upset. The support they’re offering me to help me lose the weight is amazing and generous, and I want to accept it, but if I do, I’m worried I may be welcoming further commentary, albeit well-intentioned, and an emotional claim to my body.

“We hurt when you hurt,” they said when I showed them what I’d written up to this point; and my current weight is upsetting to me, so I believe that. I guess I hurt when they hurt when I hurt.

Marci Robin is a contributing editor at xoJane and lives in Brooklyn.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Family

Passive-Aggressive Dad Is Back With Instructional Video About How to Load a Dishwasher

Wait until you get to the "advanced" level.

Will Reid is an ordinary dad with an ordinary problem: His teenage children are completely inept (and we mean that in the nicest way possible) when it comes to incredibly menial tasks.

So Reid has made a series of “Teenage Instructional Videos” to teach them the complex art of loading dishwashers — the “advanced level” involves pressing things that “look like the buttons on your Xbox or Playstation” — and replacing the toilet paper roll.

The videos have clearly resonated so much that they have gone viral, inspiring Reid to make his own line of cups and instructional shirts.

May the profits go to a beach vacation sans kids. You deserve it, Will.

Here’s the toilet paper video. Can also be shown to lazy roommates for the single audience:

MORE: Dad Makes Hilariously Passive-Aggressive Instructional Video to Get His Kids to Do Chores

TIME celebrity

Brad Pitt: “I Want to Spend More Time With My Kids”

Brad Pitt
Jason LaVeris—WireImage Brad Pitt

The actor opens up about being a dad

Brad Pitt’s favorite role? Being a dad.

The 50-year-old actor, newly married to Angelina Jolie and father to six, told the U.K’s Psychologies magazine that being a father makes him “feel like the richest man alive,” according to TODAY.

Though he says being a parent is “the most beautiful thing you can experience,” he also admits that he worries when it comes to his children. “I worry about them all the time,” he says. “That’s the emotional bond and responsibility that sweeps over you when you have a family to look after. I care about them more than I care about myself, which I think is the real definition of love.”

Amid all the gushing, it’s clear that Pitt’s priorities are shifting to his family, possibly at the expense of his career. “I’ve been slowing down for a while now — and slowly transitioning to other things,” Pitt says in British GQ’s November issue. “And, truthfully, I do want to spend more time with my kids before they’re grown up and gone.”

TIME Family

African American Donor’s Sperm Mistakenly Sent to White Mom

A medical worker works on a dish ready f
Georges Gobet—AFP/Getty Images

Lesbian parents tell the TODAY Show that they love their mixed race daughter but are suing their sperm bank to prevent future mixups.

The Midwest Sperm Bank sent Jennifer Cramblett of Uniontown, Ohio, the wrong sperm. She’d requested sperm from donor number 380 and received instead sperm from donor number 330. Ms. Cramblett and her partner are now suing the sperm bank.

What makes the story a whole lot more complicated is that donor number 330 is African American.

“On August 21, 2012, Jennifer gave birth to Payton, a beautiful, obviously mixed-race baby girl,” says the lawsuit. “Jennifer bonded with Payton easily and she and Amanda love her very much. Even so, Jennifer lives each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.”

Among the issues that are causing these anxieties are the prospect of sending her mixed race child to an all-white school, traveling to a black neighborhood—where she feels unwelcome—to get Amanda’s hair done and the lack of acceptance by her extended family, who, according to the suit, are already having issues with the whole same sex couple arrangement.

Ms. Cramblett told The Today Show that she and her partner Amanda Zinkon love their daughter very much, but she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else’s family. “I’m not going to let them get away with this,” she said. She’s primarily angry, she says at what she considers the sperm bank’s cavalier attitude and “lack of concern for me and my family…if they had some compassion and just said sorry. But they didn’t.”

So far, the Midwest Sperm Bank has declined to comment.

(This might be a good time to direct Ms. Cramblett’s attention to Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care, a website used by many transracial adoptive families. You’re welcome.)

TIME Family

I Don’t Want to Marry a Man Who Will Feed Our Kid McDonald’s

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Smneedham—Getty Images

Am I cursing my future children to a life of being social outcasts because mommy wants to feed them green smoothies?

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

Right now, there are at least a handful of people who I KNOW will never babysit my imaginary, yet-to-be born child. As far as they’re concerned, my baby will be more under wraps than “Blanket” Jackson was. Yes, I want nothing more than to have a full stock of potential babysitters, but sometimes these people—my friends—say things that make me get the Scooby Doo face.

“Your kids ain’t gon have any friends!”

“I’m going to feed your kids McDonald’s when you’re not around.”

“I feel sorry for your children…” *Insert sympathetic head nod and social worker look of dire concern here*

I’m a horrible mother and my eggs haven’t even hatched yet. Is it a crime to want my children to eat healthy? Am I cursing them to a life of being social outcasts because mommy wants to feed them green smoothies and use unsweetened almond milk in their gluten-free cereal? I bet the little girl I saw drinking blue juice and eating a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos before 8 a.m. has LOTS of friends to go with her early onset diabetes. Don’t I want that for my children?

I thought my peeps would be excited to know that at least my children will be fed and have something that passes for a decent home-cooked meal because for most of my adult life that whole part of being a mother was questionable. By everyone. Including me. Historically, I’m not known for cooking, so I get why there might be some concern about the future welfare of my family.

I’m always the person they ask to bring the cups and napkins for get togethers. Being in the kitchen used to make me really nervous because I never felt comfortable there. Growing up, my mother cooked every day, even when I moved back in after college. She didn’t like people in the kitchen with her, and I guess I never forced the issue. It wasn’t a big deal to learn how to cook or not; I just wanted to eat.

But things are different now and the “Sandi can’t cook” jokes have had their last laughs. I’m learning and practicing to cook and I’m not just doing it for myself. I’m doing it for people I haven’t even met. A family that only exists in my imagination.

When I changed my diet nearly three years ago — to become a pescatarian with a few vegan and raw foodie tendencies — it was a deliberate choice to change my family legacy. I wanted to feel good and I wanted to grow old healthy, unlike both my parents who both died pretty young. And I wanted a sexy womb!

The idea of a baby nesting inside a womb full of toxins, cysts, fibroids, lethargy, relationship trauma, and nondescript goo and gunk sounds really wack to me. As someone entertaining the thought of having a family one day, it also seems mad irresponsible. Shouldn’t you at least attempt to clean your house before important guests come over? Shouldn’t you at least clean your womb before you bring a life into the world? Like they say in church, I’m just trying to set the atmosphere.

So, where does this leave dating? They say if you want a man, you better know how to cook, but learning to eat and cook healthier has seemed to open a whole ‘nother can of worms. I’m very conscious about not being the food police toward people. What I eat affects MY body and what they eat affects THEIR body. I’m not here to convert or condemn anyone’s nutritional choices, especially when I still drop it like it’s hot for snacky cakes. I never really had to consider how a man ate before, but now, that’s a legitimate “thing.”

I thought I was progressive and open-minded enough to say it doesn’t matter; I can respect his food choices if he can respect mine. I mean, I guess I still feel that way when it comes to us individually, but parenting is a joint venture. One parent can’t be #TeamMcDonalds and the other #McDonaldsIsTheDevil.

Things like knowing a man’s nutritional values — how he feels about food and the way he wants his children to eat — are important if we’re considering doing more than just dating. If we have sex, we might procreate, and if we procreate that child is probably going to want to eat at some point. We have a dilemma on our hands if we’re on different McDonald’s teams.

Or, what if he IS #TeamFit, but his family and friends eat like crap. Am I just supposed to be like, “Nawl, the baby can’t spend the night at your mother’s house! You know that woman doesn’t like my non-cooking!”? What if he’s surrounded by people who do cartwheels every time we drop the baby off because now our child can finally eat some “real” food? I’m accustomed to having my food choices respected, so the thought of people not respecting them is new for me.

I ate “funny” according to my mother because at a very young age, the little girl who couldn’t stay out of the corner store buying snacks and pineapple pop suddenly changed. I gave up Kool-Aid, pop, stopped putting sugar on my grits and rice, switched to soy milk and requested my tacos and meatloaf be made with ground turkey instead of beef. My mother totally supported me. She and the rest of my family still ate “regular,” but she allowed me to do me and I’m forever grateful for that.

I couldn’t influence my mother to eat differently, but I can influence my child. I can start her on a healthy path and if she decides to veer off later in life, at least she can just do her in an informed way.

I don’t want a divided home. Even if I have to cook steaks for my husband every night, I want to be able to trust that when it’s just him and our child they aren’t running off to McDonald’s together for “our little secret because you know mommy eats funny and hates McDonald’s.” I want to trust him and anyone else our child is with when I’m not around.

I can deal with my imaginary child being invited to a few less play dates, or having to pay for a fancy school that serves organic meals so that she can feel normal around other kids who have mommies that are pescatarian with vegan and raw foodie tendencies. This veggie vixen hopes to have a man and a support system that can deal with that, too.

Sandria M. Washington is a Chicago-based writer.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Family

Meet the Clinton Baby’s Other Grandparents

Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky attend 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Opening Session at the Sheraton Hote in New York on Sept. 23, 2012.
Janet Mayer—Splash News/Corbis Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky attend 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Opening Session at the Sheraton Hote in New York on Sept. 23, 2012.

Or, as they're called in Yiddish, the 'machatonim'

Even before Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky headed home from the hospital on Monday, we had seen the first photos of her with her “over the moon” new grandparents, Bill and Hillary Clinton. But where were the machatonim?

In case you’re wondering, machatonim is a Yiddish word that describes a relationship for which there is no equivalent word in English: the parents of your child’s spouse. And in the case of the Clintons, the machatonim are two longtime friends and allies: Marjorie Margolies and Edward Mezvinsky.

Marjorie is a women’s rights activist and former Congresswoman from Pennsylvania who served a momentous single term in 1993-95 after her deciding vote for the Clinton budget cost her her seat. She ran but lost in the Democratic primary this spring, despite vigorous support from both Clintons. Her former husband, Edward Mezvinsky, served two terms in Congress from Iowa — but also served fived years in prison after being convicted of fraud in 2001. They were divorced in 2007. So maybe their low profile is understandable.

“We are totally delighted,” Marjorie told TIME. What matters this week, anyway, is the relationship of the Clintons and the Margolies-Mezvinsky as machatonim — surely a more efficient way to put it than fumbling around awkwardly with phrases like “my daughter’s in-laws.” If Bill and Hillary are newcomers to their heightened status as grandparents, Marjorie and Ed are black-belt machatonim. Between their combined eleven children, they already have 18 grandchildren, thus presenting Charlotte with 18 cousins “who can’t wait to be part of Charlotte’s life,” Margolies says.

It’s often pointed out that the machatonim often become uncommonly close for two reasons: (1) their shared love for the same grandchildren, and (2) because they and the grandchildren are united by a common enemy: the parents.

So now begin the sensitive negotiations that are more than familiar to many grandparents. Which family will Charlotte (and, oh, her parents) visit for Thanksgiving? Or will they split the difference, Solomonically bolting after turkey dinner to commute to the Other Grandparents’ House for dessert? Who gives her the coolest presents? And, most terrifying, which grandparents does she says she loves the MOST? She will say she loves them all, of course. After all, at least genetically, all machatonim are created equal.

TIME Family

See Chelsea Clinton’s Life in Pictures

From her first baby pictures to her pregnancy, here's Chelsea's very public life in pictures

TIME Family

Please Stop Telling Me I Won’t Care About My Dog Anymore When I Have a Baby

Courtesy of Liz Shields

“Oh, once that little baby comes, you’ll forget you ever had a dog!”

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

When I found out I was pregnant, Milly, our nine-year-old cockapoo, was the first to know. She was sitting at my feet in our bathroom, waiting rather impatiently to go outside for a walk. As I squinted, anxious to see if a second line might appear on the pee stick, it occurred to me that I was probably more sure about getting a dog almost a decade ago than I was about the idea of having a child now.

The very first time my husband and I saw Milly, she was curled up in such a tight ball that we couldn’t tell where she began and where she ended. She was a little circle of black and white fluff that made us squeal like school children. Her saucer-shaped puppy eyes and inexplicably long eyelashes peered out from under her old-man eyebrows and our hearts went from solid, functioning muscular organs to oatmeal-grade mush.

She was our dog.

We took her home one year after we were married, and people would often ask if she was “practice” for having a child. The answer, truly and honestly, was no. We just really wanted a dog. And Milly wasn’t practice for anything at all. She was a real-time floppy embodiment of our heart and souls and from the minute she pranced through our front door she has filled our lives with an unreal amount of happiness.

So as my eyes darted back and forth from her pathetic, take-me-on-a-goddamn-walk face to the second pink line that was slowly revealing that there was a teeny human growing in my uterus, I kind of freaked out and. As I am wont to do when it comes to Milly, I asked her opinion.

“Doodlebug! What do you think about a baby?!” I expressed this to her with the same zeal I applied to treats and walks, which riled her up enough to circle my ankles and bark at absolutely nothing in general.

A little time passed and we began sharing our news with family and friends, and it surprised me how quickly Milly’s name and, apparently, her place in our universe, was thrown into the conversation. Here are a few gems that stuck in my craw:

“Oh, once that little baby comes, you’ll forget you ever had a dog!” (Correct! I will promptly erase the last nine-plus years of my life so I may better focus on the raising of my child.)

“Don’t be surprised when whole days go by and you don’t even walk her!” (I’m assuming that the person who said this spent those “whole days” either ankle-deep in all sorts of dog excrement and/or gingerly leaping over massive piles of canine mess.)

“I had a friend who gave her dog away one week after having her son. She couldn’t stand having that thing around.” (That “thing”? Couldn’t stand? Gave away? Wait, what? Find new friends, girl.)

“If you think you love Milly, just wait until you meet this baby!” (Because I couldn’t possibly find it in my shriveled, frigid raisin heart to love two adorable things at once!)

It goes without saying that being pregnant often brings about a slew of unwanted and unnecessary advice from people you know and strangers alike, but it shocked me (and grated on my hormone-riddled nerves) that people were so quick to discount our poor pooch and write her off forever. It seemed to me akin to telling parents who were about to have a second child that their first children were like the first batch of burnt pancakes. Just go ahead and toss ’em! You have new, shiny babies coming! Who needs the old ones?!

Perhaps people have had different experiences with their pets. For us, Milly is as much a part of our family as actual human family members, if not moreso. In fact, I tend to prefer the company of my dog to most people, in general. She is beloved and she’s been along for the ride of our marriage, which hasn’t always been smooth or easy. She’s lived in our apartments and houses, cities and suburbs and, despite one nasty incident involving the ingestion of a substantial amount of packing tape, she’s made each move seamlessly. (In her defense, the packing tape had it coming. It had the nerve to deny her access to her toys and food. Not cool, packing tape.)

As long as we were there with her, she found her new nooks and settled in. Her philosophy has always been, “You guys hanging out? I’ll hang out.”

Milly’s personality is, at once, fiercely loyal and shockingly contrary. There is a chance that when I call her name and pat the empty space next to me, she will stand up and pointedly walk away to the furthest corner possible. Or, she might walk right over and curl up next to me so tight and with such loving conviction that I vow never to move from that spot. I have spent many an afternoon risking severe nerve damage from various limbs falling asleep as well as borderline-fatal UTIs because I’ve had to go to the bathroom but don’t want to move for fear of losing snuggle time.

I find such great comfort in Milly. I’m not sure if it’s simple familiarity or the fact that she looks like a stuffed animal come to life, but I’ve always felt calmer with her around. Having spent a great deal of time in hospitals, a place where dogs are strictly forbidden, I can tell you that the thing I missed most, more than the comfort of my own bed or the idea of not being woken up at 3:30 a.m. to have my blood drawn, was my sweet, little dog.

When she isn’t in the house, there’s an emptiness that is completely unsettling. I’ll listen for the jingle of her collar or the clicking of her paws on the hardwood floor and, when I hear neither, my heart sinks a bit. This feeling has existed for almost a decade and I doubt it will go away just because another person enters the picture.

I fully recognize that things will change. For example, I probably won’t have time for our regularly scheduled conversations where I ask her, repeatedly, why her nose is so delicious or who made her so cute. (All valid questions, people). But Milly will continue to be, as she has been, a very important member of our small clan.

So next time you see a pregnant woman walking her dog down the street, keep all your dog-and baby-based opinions to yourself and stick to awkwardly petting her belly like the other strangers. Or, better yet, just pet her dog.

Liz Shields is a writer from Boca Raton, Florida by way of New York.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Family

CEO of Trillion-Dollar Company Resigned After His Daughter Told Him How Much He Has Missed

Key Speakers At The Bretton Woods Committee International Council Meeting
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz SE, speaks during the 31st Annual Meeting of the Bretton Woods Committee at the World Bank

Former PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian's daughter made him a list of all the milestones he had missed

Updated Sept. 29, 6:12 pm

A 22-point list written by his 10-year-old daughter was all it took to change the trajectory of Mohamed El-Erian’s life, the former CEO says.

In January, El-Erian made headlines for announcing his resignation as chief executive officer of trillion-dollar investment fund PIMCO in January. In an article for Worth this summer, which has recently gone viral, El-Erian explains that he decided to step down after his daughter listed out the many milestones he had missed in her life.

When El-Erian asked his child why she wasn’t listening to him when he asked her to brush her teeth, she gave him a list of 22 things he had missed (from first soccer matches to Halloween parades) because of work.

“Talk about a wake-up call,” El-Erian writes. “I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-dos… But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point.”

Family may not have been the sole factor in his resignation, however; at least one report at the time suggested El-Erian’s departure might also have been motivated by an alleged falling-out with PIMCO co-founder Bill Gross, who left the company Friday.

But whatever El-Erian’s actual reason for leaving, his blog post still struck a nerve. While discussion of work-life balance is often discussed with women in the C-Suite, men are rarely asked whether or not they “have it all.”

But the conversation is now opening up. And this is largely because men are speaking out. For example, former CEO of MongoDB Max Schireson wrote a popular blog post about his decisions to step down from his position after he realized how much he was missing in his children’s lives.

A recent TIME article asked 7 C-Suite dads, many of whom were CEOs, to reflect on their struggles to maintain a strong work and family life. Intuit CEO Brad Smith recalled leaving his wife and newborn daughters the day after both of them were born for work trips. Since then he has learned that there are “crystal” and “rubber” moments — while you can bounce back from missing a few occasions, the crystal moments (graduations, weddings, births) should never be dropped.

Since resigning, El-Erian now manages “a portfolio of part time jobs” that provides more flexibility. (Meanwhile his former firm, PIMCO has run into some troubled waters.)

“I now alternate with my wife in waking up our daughter every morning, preparing her breakfast and driving her to school,” he said. “I’m also around much more often to pick her up after school and take her to activities. She and I are doing a lot of wonderful talking and sharing. We’ve even planned a holiday together, just the two of us.”

Read more:

CEO Dads Open Up About Balancing Fatherhood and Work

 

TIME Dating

18 Reasons It’s Great to Be Single (According to People In Relationships)

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Digital Vision.—Getty Images

And single people give a bunch more

Being single is rad and always has been. So rad, in fact, that single people now represent a majority of the U.S. population. One in four Millennials say they don’t ever plan on getting married.

Single people are so comfortably in the mainstream that the whole idea of making time to celebrate Singles Week—that’s this week—is beginning to feel a little weird.

[Note: I’m ignoring the very real structural inequalities levied against single people, helpfully outlined in this post by Bella DePaulo, because that’s not my point here but by all means if anyone wants to launch a singles revolution let me know. I’m always down to Fight The Power.]

Anyway, in celebration of this ridiculous holiday we compiled two lists, both about the same thing: what’s great about being single. One list comes from single people themselves, the other list from people in relationships. The entries have been lightly edited where necessary but reproduced as faithfully as possible.

A number of responses, particularly from people in relationships, reflected the mistaken notion that single people are happily filthy and frumpy looking all the time. (e.g.“You don’t have to impress anyone.”) Since being single in no way diminishes the libido and the art of seduction often depends, at a bare minimum, on at least passable hygiene, we can dispense with that whole line of thought outright. Other responses, again perhaps unsurprisingly mostly from the coupled, were splendidly optimistic (e.g. “You can make out with anyone you want anytime you want.”)

If indeed the world is that much your oyster then by all means, Casanova, carry on. Sadly most of us don’t have that kind of game, so I’ve eliminated most such responses as well.

SINGLE PEOPLE on the Benefits of Singledom

“You will never in your single life be told how much ice cream is too much by your non-existent partner. Never. Not even once.”

“No guilt flirting.”

“If you like to travel you travel. That’s pretty much the beginning and the end of that entire discussion.”

“I don’t have to say hello to anyone when I get home.”

“You stay culturally relevant. So many people have never experienced the joy that is Tinder.”

“You don’t have to go to work events with your significant other where you know nobody and where there’s never enough alcohol.”

“If you’re tall you don’t have to worry about whether you should wear high heels out, how high those heels are before you’re taller than the guy, and whether that’s emasculating.”

“You can’t be cheated on.”

“Life can be one big weird sexual walkabout if you want it to be.”

“If you have a food allergy, you don’t have to worry about whether he’s ordering things with nuts.”

“Girlfriends are net generators of grief. They may start out easygoing, carefree, accommodating, but eventually the grief will start”

“Having hilarious/horrifying dating stories with which to entertain your friends.”

“The adventure of not knowing how your Saturday night will end. “

“I have an ex who, feeling disgruntled one evening, and to be fair had reason to be, leveled my herb garden and left me in the morning.”

“You can listen to the same Leonard Cohen album over and over for the entire winter without anyone yelling at you.”

[Divorced] “Career and big life decision flexibility. Doing whatever the hell you want to excess. $$$”

“You can wear lipstick all the time.”

“Fewer people have an incentive to lie to you.”

“Less likely you will get pregnant on purpose with a partner you will be yoked to for 18 years despite them revealing themselves as a terrible person.”

“Getting to know yourself and your habits.”

“Independence. Dating. Having sex with EVERYONE.”

“Going to the movies and never having to worry about finding two seats together.”

[Widowed] “Learning to forgive and live again.”

“Singing and talking to my dog.”

“Best/Worst: eating for one.”

“Not clearing your browser history.”

“Never having to leave a place until I [explicative] feel like it and never having to go to a place unless I [explicative] feel like it and doing whatever the [explicative] I want at all the time.”

“Masturbation Marathons!!!”

 

COUPLED PEOPLE on the Benefits of Singledom

“You never have to see a movie with Liam Neeson in it.”

“You can binge watch an entire series in one weekend without committing Netflix infidelity.”

“You only have to deal with your own parents and their crazy.”

“Do you know how embarrassing it is to watch Friday Night Lights from start to finish for the second or third time and have your husband witness that?”

“You can engage in gross single behaviors like plucking your eyebrows without judgment.”

“You don’t have to regularly shower in a place where the shower bottom is blackened with filth because your boyfriend’s roommates are freegan cavemen.”

“One time one of my boyfriend’s friends peed in my rain boot.”

“Watching TV on the couch for 8 hours at a time.”

“NO IN LAWS.”

“Farting.”

“You don’t have to hang art on your walls that you hate with a burning passion because a) one of your in-laws painted it or b) your husband loves hockey and thinks that hockey posters are ‘art.’”

“Every time you stay late at work or are in a bad depressive mood you don’t have to worry about ‘What this is doing to my marriage?’ Your ‘marriage’ becomes like this third person you have to nurture. And it is exhausting.”

“You never get home from work desperate for a snack only to find that last night’s leftovers were already somebody else’s lunch.”

“You’re wrong a lot less often.”

[FORMER SMOKER WITH BOYFRIEND OUT OF TOWN] “I sat out on my balcony on this epic fall morning with my dog, sipped my espresso and smoked a cigarette. Quite possibly the best morning ever.”

“Laundry for one.”

“Breathing sweet, clean air.”

“She’s referring to my farting, which happens. I think losing time freedom is the biggest downfall in a relationship but it only applies if you haven’t found the right person. You only have so many hours on earth.”

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