The Gauntlet

It’s no sin being single

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Christmas is a weird time of year for a breakup.

Not only is it the perennial season of togetherness, cuddling on bearskin rugs, and ad nauseum re-runs of The Sound of Music but Valentine's Day is only two months away. One may survive the "most wonderful time of the year" and regain a measure of sanity only to be assailed by the perennial celebration of coupledom when being single is reason enough to wrap oneself in sackcloth and wander around with a sign reading "Unclean!"

However, reason inevitably prevails. Once all the "bah humbugs" have been uttered and it has become clear that Julie Andrews will never, not even for charity's sake, twirl off the mountain to a bloody death, the wise breakupee must pause and take stock of the lessons to be learned.

As said wise and fortunate Christmas breakupee, it has occurred to me that we've all been duped. There's a letter that's been strategically omitted from the word "relationship" which, if included, would do a lot to reduce all the hysteria and excitment surrounding romantic liasons. All you need to is buy a vowel for it to become real-ationship.

Our ideas of romance and love are widely based on fantasy. We crave and strive towards finding and settling into relationships because we've been led to believe that humans are "social creatures," and that people who spend weekends alone with a glass of wine, a good book and a classical CD must be utterly deranged.

We believe that not only is it possible to arrange those perfect horseback rides into the sunset and moonlit dinners on the beach, but that they will suffice to win the favour of the opposite sex. We believe that sex occurs in perfectly lit rooms with soft murmurs, no awkward interruptions to organize prophylactics, well-delivered pillow talk and a gentle undulating motion.

The reality is that some people are violently allergic to horses, moonlit dinners on beaches are diffcult to orchestrate and sex is a messy exercise involving strategic positioning, biting, the ever-impossible sock removal and bodily fluids that do not obligingly defy gravity to stay where the attentions of a kleenex aren't needed. If we accept these things to be true, then it follows that relationships, while nice, are not necessary.

This may sound like a cynical diatribe against love and relationships in general. It's not. It's just the musings of a twentysomething who woke up after a breakup to realize singledom ain't so bad. I wasn't elated, but I certainly wasn't doing what I did after my last serious breakup. Sixteen men in Calgary were hit in a eight month span by a hurricane-like, panic-stricken version of myself convinced that until I found another partner, I was a social deviant.

Thanks to the continued affirmations of my ex-partner that I'm a pretty good person, I've come to the realization that there's nothing wrong with singledom. It's the natural state of existence. In realationships, partners die, divorce or depart, but if I'm okay with spending time by myself-I'll get through it.

In reality, I can guard my personal space as jealously as I want and it doesn't have to be about rebound status, vulnerability or questionable hygiene practices. It's just because being single, in reality, isn't the crime it's portrayed to be.

It's a funny moment when you suddenly understand exactly what your mother was trying to tell you all those years ago.Yes, relationships are nice and there's nothing better than sex (with a reasonably well-endowed partner) on the face of this planet. But all the fish in the sea can't help you if you can't swim on your own.

Although I'll never tell her, Mum was right all along. A relationship shouldn't complete me-I'm complete on my own. A real-ationship is a complement to both partner's existences and its ending doesn't warrant spite, stalking, or overt hostility towards Julie Andrews, perky as she may be. The reality is that not only is being single okay, it's almost necessary if one ever wants to be attached.

Ruth Davenport can be reached
at ruth111@hotmail.com.