Few things are better than a spicy cocktail, in my opinion. Coming into an unexpected windfall of money like the kind you get from the Community Chest in Monopoly? Also good. Finding someone on a dating app who looks like their photos, can carry a conversation, and isn’t a fuckboy? Next to impossible, but buy a lottery ticket if you do find one.
Which brings me to what I want to talk to you about today. A few words of advice and a request for those of you in relationships. Those of you who know I’m *still* single and don’t know whether to bring it up or not. For those of you who cautiously ask, “So, are you dating anyone?” Or, “Been on any dates recently?”
And when I say, “No, still considering the convent,” you reply with a platitude such as, “It will happen when you least expect it,” or the ever-helpful, “Maybe your standards are just too high.” This one is for you.
If you know me, or you’ve read this blog, ever, or listened to my episode on the You Might Not Like It podcast, you know that I think online/app dating is an absolute tire fire. These tools turn human interaction into a hot-or-not flipbook with a disproportionate number of men holding up fish. I’m more likely to burst a blood vessel or have a brain aneurysm in the face of the bad behaviour I’ve witnessed or endured on these apps than I am to find love.
So with that in mind, if you are genuinely concerned about me or any of the single people in your life who are out there suffering the social evils wrought by Tinder, I have a favour to ask: stop taking your partner for granted. Your partner will probably thank you too.
Look, I’m no saint, not even close, I’m as guilty of doing this in past relationships as anyone. But in my last long-term relationship I did some serious self-work, thanks to the prompting of my then partner. At one point, early on in our relationship, I’d made some off-hand remark about him in the company of others – cutting him down, just a bit. He told me afterwards how embarrassed and hurt that made him feel. I apologized and we agreed that we would never slight one another in the company of others.
It’s tempting to take advantage of the opportunity of an audience to settle a score or martyr yourself. You’re out with your partner at a social gathering and you say something like, “Oh, [insert partner name here] came home absolutely polluted last Friday and I had to get the kids to soccer/badminton/piano the next morning while he/she prayed to the porcelain god, it was totally pathetic.”
Usually this kind of commentary comes with a sneer and a scathing tone of superiority. Let me be the first to tell you, no one cares, and you seem like a petty jerk. Feel free to put your partner in the stocks and pummel them with rotten tomatoes on our own time but don’t expect me to join in.
To be quite honest, it’s hard to listen to and harder still to watch your partner bite their tongue as the embarrassment/rage/shame colours their cheeks.
Once my partner and I had made a pact to avoid this sort of oneupmanship/martyrdom, it became all the more obvious how often couples engage in that kind of behaviour. It also forced us to have direct conversations with one another, one-on-one, about the things that were bothering each of us – instead of silently score-keeping and then pulling out the scorecards in front of our friends and asking them to adjudicate.
I’m not saying you should institute a moratorium on good-natured jokes, the type that everyone can enjoy and aren’t inflected with an underlying resentment, or worse, contempt. I’m simply suggesting that you consider dealing with your shit behind closed doors or with the help of a couples counsellor and don’t look to your friends, especially your single friends, to take your side and start jeering as you dress down your partner in a public forum.
Also, for clarity, I’m not saying you can’t talk to me or your other friends about the things you’re struggling with in your relationship. I’m all ears and I want to support you, as I know my friends want to support me when I’m feeling lonely or frustrated with the dating game. I just don’t want to be ringside for a series of verbal jabs that you aim at your partner and hope will leave you standing victorious looking down at their battered ego.
It’s uncomfortable for everyone and probably not the most effective means of changing the behaviour you find frustrating or hurtful. I probably don’t have a future as an advice columnist, but I do hope this post will give you a moment of pause and consider how a bit more kindness and charity might go a long way in your relationship.
The next time you’re with a group of friends, make a jug of this punch and pay your partner a compliment, but if you can’t think of anything nice to say, take another sip.
Signed – your single friend, Yvonne.
Meanwhile, place 4 hibiscus teabags in a small bowl and pour 1¼ cups boiling water over. Cover and let steep 10 minutes. Strain tea into an airtight container. Cover tea and chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
Recipe from: Martinez, Rick. “Pineapple-Hibiscus Cocktail.” Bon Appetit. May 2016.