I Prefer "Significant/Insignificant Other"

(Thanks, Field Negro!)

Before I begin, remember that these are my opinions.  Ergo, jumping on my back for them is pointless.  I'm saying this right now because this is one of those issues where people get defensive for no damn reason.

Field Negro's post alerted me to an article written by Andraya Mays for The Fresh Express in which she states she's sick of the boyfriend/girlfriend title.  Here's an excerpt:
Boyfriend/girlfriend is a title. That’s it. In no way, shape, or form does it signify commitment. Y’all can keep getting tricked into being “wifey” or his “girlfriend” forever if y’all want to, but I’m taking a different route. We all know one too many “girlfriends” that wouldn’t be so self-righteous if they knew what their “boyfriends” were really up to.

The way I see it, getting a guy to commit to this title first does not, nor has it ever guaranteed that you will see a ring, so why commit yourself to someone that’s not going to be around ‘till death do you part?

Ain’t gone happen over here.

One day I was just thinking and was like, “Ok so I want a guy to kick it with all the time and maybe do a little bump and grind,” but then I was like, “I’m a busy girl. I don’t have time to maintain a real relationship right now,” and then I was like, “and even if I do get me a man, I’m not trying to be his girlfriend forever and ever, we’ll eventually have to break-up if he doesn’t propose around the time I’m ready to settle down or he’ll cheat or we’ll grow apart.”

Then it hit me, why should I even have to go through that for a maybe? This ain’t spades and I ain’t putting no money on no possibles.

To me, commitment is a guy going out and getting a ring, asking my friends if they like it, discussing it with his boys and our families, then nervously getting down on one knee in a super cute setting that he planned out on his own.

Anything other than that is redundant. Why should I ever be stressed about a relationship that isn’t recognized by anybody’s God, nor does it affect my taxes? I shouldn’t. Nobody should.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that you can’t control when you fall in love and I’m not suggesting that you postpone the feelings until marriage and I’m definitely not saying that slutting until then is acceptable but chill out.

What is the point in fully committing to someone you may or may not spend your life with? You can figure out if you want to marry that person without a title. As a matter of fact, that’s a better way to do it because there’s no reason to lie to each other about anything if you don’t “go together.”

I’m not saying this is easy. It’s not at all. You have to be secure and trusting in order for it to work. But it’s much easier than a relationship. Imagine a life where you can do you and he/she can do them. No hurt feelings. No broken promises. No driving by his house to see who’s over there. Then when it’s the right time for the both of you, commit, settle down, have a Leroy and a Patricia. If those times don’t coincide, move on.

Now before you totally disregard my premise, ask yourself why you’re so against it? Why does the idea of going from love to marriage, and not boyfriend-girlfriend to love to marriage seem so ridiculous? Not because it’s crazy. It’s because it’s different.

It’s crazy to me that for so long we’ve been ok with putting so much energy into a person we only “like” and aren’t sure if we’ll love yet. Once in a relationship, we inevitably think it’s love after a while because that’s just what’s supposed to happen right?

As young people, we get so caught up in that giddy feeling of infatuation that we forget about reality, until it slaps us in the face. Live your life. Make your dreams come true. Don’t make love a chore. And when you’ve lived enough and seen enough, decide to live and see forever with another.

It breaks my heart to see so many women out there who have NEVER had time solely to work on them. Not even just young mothers, the women who go from boyfriend to boyfriend from kindergarten to the alter deal with the same thing mentally. If you’ve always been attached to someone else, there’s no way you know who you are.

That period where you no longer live with your parents and have no one to worry about but you is probably the most necessary, deciding factor in your life. Stop being so dependent on the relationships you form, expecting those to give you happiness.

I think a much stronger bond is created when you’re free to see whomever you want but that one girl/guy is always in the back of your mind. You’ll always return to him or her not because you made a baseless commitment to them, but because that’s where your heart is.

That’s love – the kind of love that can make a marriage last. I want to look at my future husband every day and know that we’re both here by choice. Not because I got knocked up while shacking up, not because I was his longtime girlfriend so he figured he owed me the ring, and certainly not because I gave him an ultimatum.

I want to marry my best friend, not my boyfriend. Most importantly, I want to know exactly who I am and serve myself and my needs before I try to give another person my all. If you haven’t done that “soul-searching,” how much do you really have to give?
To which Field Negro writes on his blog:
I guess I want your opinions, because, now that I think about it, I really don't understand what girlfriend is trying to say.
Talk is Cheap

After high school, I myself was never comfortable with the terms "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" in the romantic sense.  To me, they sound incredibly juvenile, belonging in the uncertain, emotionally turbulent, and hormonally fickle halls of a middle school.  Hell, I don't even think they should be used outside the sandbox.  I remember the horror I felt watching a cast of supposed-to-be-grown women on Sex in the City using the term "boyfriend".  I remember thinking, "You're adults. What the hell? After the age of five, you don't say 'wee-wee' instead of penis, so why still use 'boyfriend'?"

Those words never actually meant anything to me, not even when I was a teenager; I had No Respect Whatsoever for such relationships.  True story: you know how in high school there were always these 2-3 couples in your circle of friends whom everyone else looks up to and has this irrational, to-the-death respect for?  I knew such a couple (a few actually).  Everybody in our group of friends talked about their "relationship" like it was their own parents' marriage.

Except me.

The guy actually happened to be a neighbor of mine, and every few months, he had a new "girlfriend" he supposedly loved and was willing to take a bullet for.  One particular girlfriend he had talked as though they were already married, so I wound up hearing whole sermons on their "relationship."  Of course, it didn't stop the guy from occasionally foolin' around with Moi on the school bus or at his house or at the nearby park or where the hell ever.  I actually remember the girl voiced a suspicion to me once about him possibly messing around with someone else.  Never having been properly schooled in the deceptive art of girl talk, I shrugged and replied, "Yeah.  He most likely is."

College was no different.  You know that saying about how if you talk to a couple separately they usually have completely different versions of what's happening in their relationship?  College is the classic example of that.  Quite frankly, I don't even know why college kids even bother.  College is all about having insignificant others.  I never understood how a young woman could shack up and share her highly prized loan check with some dude.  I mean...what.the.fuck.is.that?  Investing money in an apartment and a car with a boyfriend?

You can be someone's "girlfriend" on Tuesday.  By Thursday...who the hell knows?  I think that all this boyfriend/girlfriend nonsense is putting perfectly good insignificant others on lockdown, and it's selfish.  Go hard or go home.  If you two aren't going to be together until death do you part, then you are both fair game and need to quit being so damn greedy.

Significant, Insignificant

Now personally, I prefer the terms "significant other" and "insignificant other".  Keep in mind I'm being very serious.  The Eldest Sis argues that these terms are too broad and too vague, but that's the point.  They're eventuality terms, as in "prepared for any eventuality."

To me, insignificant others are the ones you sleep with, have a drink with, but whose calls you're not obligated to take and whose thoughts, feelings, and overall existence don't factor into your life decisions.  Depending upon who and how they are, they may or may not eventually become a significant other (but most likely do not).

A significant other is someone who has, though not always, the potential to become a partner, as in someone you can share your finances, property, and DNA with.  To hell with who designed the wedding clothes, or how much the ring(s) cost, or even which god blessed/condemned the union - like I said in a previous post, it all comes back to the law.  To be fully protected in a relationship, a real commitment needs the backing of the law (hence the reason why it's so important that gays be allowed to marry).

When people are ready to commit, that's what they do.  The key word in that sentence, of course, is "do".  Some commenters on Andraya's post talked about, "But if he/she has my word....", but commitment isn't said; it's done.  It means giving up things, factoring another a person into all your major decisions, and being ready to be held accountable in a court of law for your fuck-ups.  Loving and committing to a person - whether we like to admit it or not - is to be inconvenienced.  That goes for friends, parents, children, and siblings, as well as significant others.

And this is where people get defensive; some want to be able to commit verbally and have the obligation end there, and often try to redefine the very word "committed" so that it means anything but committed.  Others want to defend their decision to accept someone else's words of commitment, even if there are no actions to back up the words.

Both types get angry when people ask why they haven't taken the next step if they're so committed.

You don't have to be rich to commit.  You don't have to have the fairytale wedding, or the perfect house, or whatever other excuse people drum up to get out of it.  Hell, you don't even need the right person to commit!  All you need is the legal right, and the conviction to go through with becoming someone's partner.

Outside of that, you're just an Other, and far more easily replaced.

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These Are My Confessions

Comments

  1. I don't know about Field, but I completely agree with Mays' article. Completely. I've blogged about aspects of what she's saying, but she got to the point in a way I haven't yet been able to do. Labels are a huge problem, IMO. And typically, it's the girl that wants the label, not the dude. The man (usually) wants the freedom to be and do as he pleases, like doing the horizontal bump with a jump-off while being seen in public and in daylight with his main squeeze. And giving her the jump-off's money.

    The female wants the status as "girlfriend" because for so long, the word meant something. To women (typically), it meant loyalty. It meant a significant relationship. It meant something to say the words "I got a boyfriend" to other women. I've been party to such conversations, usually as the woman who was boyfriend-less. Sometimes it was used as a dig with pretty harsh connotations.

    But as you said, if you ask both parties of a relationship the same questions at different times, you get completely different perspectives. She may say, "That's my boo and we've been together for 2 1/2 years." Translated: "I expect for us to be married soon." He may say, "We're just kickin' it." Translated, "I'm with her until I can find somebody better."

    Commitment is just that, commitment. If one is committed to someone else, then life adjustments must be made or what is the point? And if said person isn't worth making these adjustments for, then why be with them? Why waste time?

    When a woman is ready to settle down, she wants to settle down with whomever she's with at the time, regardless as to whether they're worthy. Especially if she's been booed up with him for a significant amount of time. When a man is ready to settle down, he'll go and find a worthy woman, and it may not necessarily be the one he's currently with.

    Labels are arbitrary and meaningless. I think that people should be honest and up front about what they want with who they're with. If you want a fuck buddy, then say so. If you're looking to get wifed up, then let it be known. If you're looking for a serious connection with someone, then tell them. You can eliminate a lot of drama using this method. Because either they'll agree with you or they won't, and neither of you will have lost anything.

    But maybe that's just me. Most people lie about what they truly want. She won't say anything about a serious relationship for fear of scaring the guy off, and he won't say that all he's looking for is a piece of ass for fear he may not get it from her.

    Maybe I'm just a jaded cynical chick who's seen enough to know better than to want it.

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  2. I don't know about Field, but I completely agree with Mays' article.

    Surprise, surprise. ;)

    I've blogged about aspects of what she's saying, but she got to the point in a way I haven't yet been able to do... Most people lie about what they truly want. She won't say anything about a serious relationship for fear of scaring the guy off, and he won't say that all he's looking for is a piece of ass for fear he may not get it from her.

    And you got to the point the way I couldn't.

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  3. "When people are ready to commit, that's what they do. The key word in that sentence, of course, is "do". Some commenters on Andraya's post talked about, "But if he/she has my word....", but commitment isn't said; it's done. It means giving up things, factoring another a person into all your major decisions, and being ready to be held accountable in a court of law for your fuck-ups. Loving and committing to a person - whether we like to admit it or not - is to be inconvenienced. That goes for friends, parents, children, and siblings, as well as significant others."

    Oh I agree…
    I courted my wife for two years before we tied the knot. Having committed to the idea of being with her forever, it was an easy transition from suitor to husband. I might add: it took her the whole two years to evolve from significant other to wife. Both of us were mature, independent; and self-sustaining before we became one flesh. Moreover, we took the time to know one another as best friends; with the relationship naturally culminating in marriage. Yesterday, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.

    Most young people aren’t able to see beyond their next meal or paycheck, let alone weigh the long-term ramifications of committing their lives to one person. Nor can they truly comprehend what it means to ‘forsake all others’ (even your own needs) in deference to your partner. A lot of young men want to have their cake and eat it too. The old idiom: “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” comes to mind. If one can enjoy all the carnal benefits of marriage without the commitment then why marry? Because young men are indeed that shallow. He will say what he believes “she needs to hear” to maintain the illusion of a relationship without ever committing TO the relationship.

    With dating- clubbing and cohabitation being such the diversion nowadays, marriage isn’t something young couples contemplate much. Because of the casual manner by which relationships are now defined, people are texting and tweeting amorous intent unbeknownst to their partners, usually with devastating consequences. Emotional infidelity is carried out by way of keyboard with little regard for the partner. For many purists, if there is no ring there’s no commitment; and if there’s no commitment there can be little assurance of fidelity. At the very least there should be an understanding of what one partner expects from the other long before the union is taken to a higher level.

    Although a ring’s no guarantee your partner will be faithful, you certainly have the ‘Right’ to expect their fidelity, because you got papers on them. But such commitments take maturity- a presence of mind; and knowledge of the self. Most young people simply aren’t at that stage in their lives to appreciate such notions; young men in particular.

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  4. All I can say is cosign, especially to this gem:
    When people are ready to commit, that's what they do. The key word in that sentence, of course, is "do". Some commenters on Andraya's post talked about, "But if he/she has my word....", but commitment isn't said; it's done.

    Preach!

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  5. @M. Gibson,

    But such commitments take maturity- a presence of mind; and knowledge of the self. Most young people simply aren’t at that stage in their lives to appreciate such notions; young men in particular.

    Although there are no guarantees of anything regardless of age, this is why I don't think ANYONE should get married before the age of 30. You need your 20s to get yourself and your shit together and know who you are before trying to seriously bring another into your life. I think this is true for most individuals, and I've seen it play out time and again.

    I would even say that young women don't appreciate those notions because they can't; they haven't had time to. Society pressures young women to want to get married and start a family at an early age (college and career notwithstanding). So they do this and then find themselves (usually) with a big old mess by the time they hit their 30s. This, too, I see happen regularly, I'm sorry to say.

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  6. Although there are no guarantees of anything regardless of age, this is why I don't think ANYONE should get married before the age of 30. You need your 20s to get yourself and your shit together and know who you are before trying to seriously bring another into your life.

    There's not enough cosign in the world.

    If one can enjoy all the carnal benefits of marriage without the commitment then why marry? Because young men are indeed that shallow. He will say what he believes “she needs to hear” to maintain the illusion of a relationship without ever committing TO the relationship.

    After a while, we can only blame men for so much. Women, both older and younger, need to be held accountable for perpetuating this tendency to cling to a man who isn't on the same page, as well as this idea of that we WAVE to be in a relationship.

    Notice I didn't say have to have a man; the Eldest Sis has often wondered whether or not I'm gay because I'm no so eager to shack up with a man. She keeps saying, "If you're gay, that's cool; get you a woman and live your life."

    To which I have to explain that romantic relationships aren't important to me right now. I understand what commitment entails and I'm not willing to participate in that just yet.

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  7. After a while, we can only blame men for so much. Women, both older and younger, need to be held accountable for perpetuating this tendency to cling to a man who isn't on the same page, as well as this idea of that we HAVE to be in a relationship.

    Girl, TELL IT! Seriously, women need to own their issues and their bullshit. Stop blaming men for everything!

    Notice I didn't say have to have a man; the Eldest Sis has often wondered whether or not I'm gay because I'm no so eager to shack up with a man. She keeps saying, "If you're gay, that's cool; get you a woman and live your life."

    Lawd bless the Eldest sis, but some of us don't need a boo to live our lives. Just live and Boo will come along, and s/he will be READY to have you in her/his life. And if you're living the way you want to be, then Boo should be able to keep up with you. If s/he can't, don't waste your time. (Ankh, you know how I roll)

    Even if I mess around and get booed up (trying to avoid it like the plague; I got commitment issues), we will not shack up. He needs to keep his space and I will keep mine. I wish I would get caught up in that bullshit. I wish more women would let go of that warped ideal and get their shit together.

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  8. Even if I mess around and get booed up (trying to avoid it like the plague; I got commitment issues), we will not shack up. He needs to keep his space and I will keep mine. I wish I would get caught up in that bullshit. I wish more women would let go of that warped ideal and get their shit together.

    Young women today who have advanced education, full-time jobs, their own homes, their own cars, and the right to vote take it all for granted. They forget that just a few (very few) generations ago, a woman couldn't have all that, especially not if she was a WoC.

    We need to continue to encourage and explore this concept of the single, self-sufficient woman who does what she wants, has what she wants, and can achieve fulfillment on her own first before choosing to share her life with someone else.

    ReplyDelete
  9. We need to continue to encourage and explore this concept of the single, self-sufficient woman who does what she wants, has what she wants, and can achieve fulfillment on her own first before choosing to share her life with someone else.

    This cannot be said loud or often enough. You know how many relatives I have giving me the side-eye because I'm in my late 20s and not rushing to 'get booed up', as you said?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great post, as always.

    I am young twenty-something who has been thinking about things like this a lot.

    I used to be very anti-marriage but "commitment isn't said; it's done" really stood out to me.

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  11. "Although there are no guarantees of anything regardless of age, this is why I don't think ANYONE should get married before the age of 30. You need your 20s to get yourself and your shit together and know who you are before trying to seriously bring another into your life."

    I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with Amaya on that point for one reason and one reason alone. That reason is fertility. Yeah it would be great it humans didn't become fertile until 30 (that would be all kinds of awesome), however you're actually on the downslope at that point. Sucks...not fair at all but unless you plan to freeze some eggs (that'll give you 5 more years) if having biological children is important to you then waiting until 30 to marry is going to result in a time crunch for a lot of women. Oh, and of course BW have if not the highest, close to the highest rates of infertility so I'm just full of good news tonight. Yes, some women have no problem conceiving after 30 but not everyone's lucky. I think that women should be informed so that they can make informed choices about the timeline they want to follow. So the short version is, try to get to know yourself and get your shit together in your mid to late 20's so that you don't have to have a 10-15k baby.

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  12. @ zoopath
    This is unfortunately true. Ive decided to adopt/foster if I get to fortu and my mind changes about having children. As of now I really dont see myself having children of my own. So it is what it is I guess.

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  13. I'm with Student. I made the same decision mentally because, bio-clock be damned, I cannot raise a child on hopes and dreams. I'd want to give a child a quality of life and opportunities that I never had, and I'm in the process of getting my life settled. Barring divine intervention, there is no way I will be established enough between now and my 30th b-day for me to be able to be a parent. Popping one out is the easy part. The financial part, especially, is another story.

    Even worse when the person you made the child with suddenly hankers for the Fancy Free life, and stiffs you. Nuh-uh. If I'm gonna have a child or even adopt, it will have to be with someone who will be with me for the long-haul. All or nothing, like a true partner.

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  14. @Student and Leo: You guys will probably be fine but I just want to make sure that people are thinking about their fertility when planning their lives. I also completely agree that being established is the absolute best setting to have a child in and I wouldn't want to comprimise on that myself.

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  15. You guys will probably be fine but I just want to make sure that people are thinking about their fertility when planning their lives.

    And adoption. People really need to consider all options.

    There will never be a shortage of young people having kids they can't afford. Adoption is an excellent option for established couples in their thirties looking to be socially responsible and seeking the most noble endeavor of all: ensuring that someone else has a good life.

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  16. @ zoopath, thank you for bringing up fertility. People most definitely should have all their stuff together before having children, and noone should rush into marriage just because of their biological clock. However women do have to think somewhat of whether or not they want biological children when making life plans. Despite how hollywood may make it look having children easily in your late 30's early 40's isn't easy or the norm. That said adoption is wonderful. I was adopted and couldn't have asked for better parents. DNA isn't everything and there are many ways to be a family. At the end of the day whether you marry young, or when you are older; whether you stay single, have kids, or adopt, just make the decision that's best for you and be honest with yourself about what you want and with those with whom you are in relationships with.

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