I just read an article called “Romantic Love is Killing Us: Who Takes Care of Us When We are Single?”
There were a lot of good points in this article, some that I have thought about (or maybe even have written about). Some were sad (some true in my life, some not so true in my life). It was the end that I really agreed with:
I don’t want to be loved. I want to be cared for and prioritized, and I want to build a world where romantic love is not a prerequisite for these investments—especially not under a current regime with such a limited potential for which bodies are lovable. Which bodies can be loved, cared for, and invested in.
It does not have to be this way. We can commit to keeping each other alive despite our sexual capital. We need to care for each other to keep each other alive. The myth of self-assurance is neoliberal victim-blaming in an attempt to obscure, neutralize and depoliticize our actions in the name of independent thoughts and actions and to skirt accountability.
Can we care for each other outside of love? Can we commit to keeping the unloved and unlovable alive? Is this a world that we have the potential to build?
And yes I agree! I want people to care for me, not only in the romantic way. I think that talking to my single friends, it is not only the romance that we want from a significant other. But rather it is the desire to feel significant in someone else’s life.
I know that I am lucky. That I do have certain friends who are there for me. But I need to reach out. I need to call them to tell them that I am sick or unwell. I need to call around to see if there is someone who wants to go out to do something or go to a show. I need to call around to see if people want to have a shabbat meal with me, so I will not be sitting along.
I wish there was someone just there. Someone to do things with. Someone to eat meals with. Someone that makes me feel significant and that I mean something.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit since getting back to the US. I feel the loneliness.
I have to live with my parents. Now, on the one hand it is wonderful. I have a warm house to be living in. And I am so thankful that my parents are happy to have me and are taking care of me. And I know that it is temporary. But at the same I am sad. Here I am 31 years old. No boy friend or husband. No children. Sleeping in my parent’s two bedroom apartment, having my parents take me places.
My brother and sister-in-law are about to have a baby (please God any day now). And I am very excited. But at the same time, I am sad. I feel like I am a failure. That I should be married by now. I should be the one with at least one kid by now. And what does that mean that he is the first in this milestone, that in the orthodox world makes you a “real” adult”.
And maybe the thing that was the cherry on the sundae, was A asking me advice on how to sleep with his current girlfriend. I really don’t think it was so much the question, as the idea that she is in NY, while he is still in Israel. What is wrong with me that he did not want to even try with me being away? He and I never even discussed having sex, at least not in practical terms. And even more so, he wants to see me next week, and I have nothing to show for myself, other than my work. I went on two dates with two different guys…he has had multiple relationships. What if my pattern continues and I don’t date another person for another year and a half? What if no one wants me ever?
And so I sit in NY/NJ alone. Away from my friends. Away from the people who were there to take care of me when I was sick and not doing well (even though I would have to call first). And all I can think about is how backwards I have gone, which then makes me feel small and isolated, and a great failure.
I ask the same questions as the author: Can we care for each other outside of love? Can we commit to keeping the unloved and unlovable alive? Is this a world that we have the potential to build? And I’ll add one more, when will I become significant to one other person?