Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Public mushiness

Clever Elsie's very thoughtful comment on my last post got me thinking about public displays of affection. I mentioned that my S.O. is relatively affectionate and I like that. I don't think we ever act inappropriately but I can definitely imagine others thinking we are too mushy. Let me be clear - I absolutely believe there is a line for acceptable behavior and it makes me really uncomfortable to see people totally making out in public (if I had to be totally blunt, I think I'd say that if tongue is involved, that's over the line). But when I see people holding hands, or with their arms around each other, smiling at each other and maybe sneaking a periodic smooch, my personal reaction tends to be, "awwww" (again, sucking face with tongues down each other's throats is a whole different scenario). When I really started thinking about it, it occurred to me that my reaction is not that different from when I see people playing with their dogs. I think it's sweet, it makes me happy to see that tail wagging and the smile on the owner's face.

I know that when some people object to PDA, they are thinking of the "get a room" type of behavior that makes most sensible people uncomfortable. But there are some people who think any PDA is inappropriate and that's what I don't understand. That is, I get that some people are, themselves, not touchy-feely people but what I don't get is the objection to other people being touchy-feely. To me, it's just a difference in personality - some people are physically demonstrative and others are not. As long as someone isn't being physical with someone who is an unwilling participant, why is this behavior, in itself, a problem? If a particular couple is being affectionate (in an appropriate way), why is that any more objectionable than a puppy running around wagging its tail?

Maybe I'll feel differently in a few years (though I've never been particularly bothered by others' PDA). We recently went to dinner with some friends who were celebrating their seven-year anniversary (and they've been together more like thirteen) and as they were walking up to the restaurant (where my S.O. and I were already waiting at the bar), the wife said to her husband, "You can tell they haven't been together that long - they're still holding hands." For the rest of the night, we kind of joked about that but it did make me wonder. Right now, I love that my guy always holds my hand, partly because my previous boyfriends never did and it always bugged me. I've always been a physically demonstrative person and touch is important to me. But I'm sure we'll eventually reach a stage of our relationship where we'll be less affectionate than we are now, and maybe that's why some people think that PDA is a sign of insecurity (as suggested by one of the commenters on the Bella DePaulo post I mentioned last time) - the longer a couple has been together, the less likely they probably are to be affectionate in public. But the same could be said for any physical contact - lots of couples also tend to have sex less frequently the longer they've been together but does that mean that any couple that is still having a lot of sex is insecure?

I guess the main point I wanted to make is simply that for anyone who is bothered by public mushiness, I'm sorry you feel that way but please try to keep in mind that maybe what you're witnessing is simply two people in love. Instead of being offended, just think of it as puppy tails wagging and then ignore us...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fun

How is it possible that I haven't seen these magnets before? I think my favorite is "I had sex with my husband and all I got was this lousy kid" but they are all hysterical!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Can I be sappy without being seen as smug?

I just got back from an overnight trip to L.A. to visit a close friend who recently moved there with her husband. I drove up with my Significant Other, who my friend was very curious to meet, and we had a really fun evening, with good food, drink and conversation. This morning, the guys watched football while my friend and I took her dog for a walk. Of course, I wanted to get her opinion of my S.O. This is a friend who knows all about my previous, incredibly unhealthy relationships, and she's been hearing about this new guy for a while. What she said this morning was that the guy is great but more than anything else, she has never seen me this happy, that she thinks she heard me laugh more in the previous 24 hours than in the last several months, and that she is really, really happy for me.

I'm sharing this because I think that readers of this blog know that when I talk about how happy I am in my current relationship, I do not intend in any way to belittle or diminish those who are NOT in relationships, or to refute anything I have ever said about how important it is to be comfortable with being single. Mostly, when I talk about how happy I am in my current relationship, I do so because this happiness is new, certainly a departure from relationships I have known in the past, and honestly, I'm still kind of incredulous about it. I think that people who care about me will be happy to know that I have found this happiness, as my friend said this morning. But Bella DePaulo has a couple of posts that have me feeling sort of defensive. Her first post was about people who post annoying Facebook status updates about their relationships; her follow-up post talks about how people with these sorts of updates must be insecure (that is, these folks must be insecure or else they wouldn't feel the need to "act" so affectionately in public). What bugs me about that is that lately, I have been one of those people and I know that my motivation is about as far from what she's saying as you can get. When I post something on Facebook about the amazing weekend I had my guy, I'm not bragging about my relationship; I'm letting my friends know that things are great and I'm happy (I should say that I am only friends on Facebook with people that I am actually friends with in real life). Without exception, my friends have responded with comments like "You deserve it!" or "I'm so happy for you!" My S.O. also happens to be a really affectionate person, which I love since I did not get ANY public affection in my last relationship (heck, I didn't get much private affection either). I am sure that to other people, we are probably annoyingly affectionate but a) we are still sort of new at this so maybe it will lessen over time and b) if it doesn't, well, I hold his hand and sneak a quick smooch because it makes me silly happy to do so, not because I want others to think anything in particular (and just to be clear, I'm not talking about making out in a restaurant here).

I get that there are plenty of people who buy into matrimania and who want everyone to know they are in a relationship because they think that they will be seen as a 'loser' if they aren't, and I get why DePaulo feels they should be mocked. I guess I just wish that DePaulo, and many who commented on her posts, wouldn't sound so much as if everyone with sappy Facebook updates must fall into that group. DePaulo talks a lot about 'singlism' which she defines as "the stereotyping and stigmatizing of people who are single"; maybe it's just me being defensive now that I am part of a couple, but sadly, I feel like the singles community is just as likely to engage in 'couplism'.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Will you still love me in the ER?

Jezebel had a great post about a story on another site (that honestly, I don't feel like linking to because it's so stupid I don't really want to be a source of any traffic to it) that dealt with a woman who had basically been abandoned by two so-called friends. In a nutshell, the woman thinks she was drugged at a club, ended up in an emergency room, and the friends she had been with at the club almost couldn't be bothered to pick her up from the hospital. The response in the post-I-don't-want-to-link-to was that she shouldn't have expected them to! That sure, you can expect that of a significant other, but not friends (see the Jezebel post for the relevant quotes). WTF?

When I read this, the first thing I thought of was an incident three years ago when one of my best friends got food poisoning and needed to go to the ER because he'd been throwing up for several hours. Ironically (in the context of 'this is only a job for significant others'), his wife was out of town and SHE was the one who called me at 1 in the morning to ask me to take him to the hospital. I have no doubt that if our situations were reversed, either one of them would not hesitate to do the same for me. Would I call my boyfriend first? Probably. But anyone who thinks that being in a relationship is a guarantee that someone will always be there at 1 in the morning so you don't need other friends, is sadly deluded.

The second thing I thought when I read the Jezebel piece was that no one in their right mind would call these people friends but worse, they don't even sound like very decent human beings. Forget boyfriends, best friends, family, or whatever other relationships you might call on first - when push comes to shove, I think a truly decent human being will help another human being in need. OK, maybe I wouldn't call some random stranger to pick me up at the hospital at 1 in the morning, but I can imagine a scenario where every person I would normally call was, for some reason, unavailable and I might call someone much further down on my acquaintance list. Maybe I'm being too pollyanna but I honestly think that most of the people that I associate with in any dimension would be willing to come. They might be bewildered why I was calling them and they might not be excited about it but I can't imagine someone flat out saying "No, I just won't." Is that naive? Would you help someone out who asked, even if they were not someone you considered a close friend?