Melissa, 46, Calling in Her Match, California

+ If dating, where do you meet people? 
Not dating now. When I did date in the most recent past, I met people when out dancing. I also dated an Uber driver recently. I’ve met close friends in the last year, while wandering around in new locations and doing new things.


+ What are your fears & concerns about dating and relationshipping? 
Losing myself in the pursuit and maintenance of a relationship. I’m a giver and have a past with acquiescing, people pleasing, and a lack of personal boundaries. I fear I will circumvent my needs over those of needed to establish and maintain a relationship.

+ Are you happy in your current status? Why or why not?
For the most part. Work is my priority at the moment. Having just moved half way across the country to build a new life, I want to ensure I have a strong foundation before bringing anyone else on board. However, I’m open to the Universe sending special someone my way any time💕

+ Do you view marriage as a destination or a journey? 
It’s absolutely a journey and something that must be chosen every single day—as is a relationship.

+ If divorced, when did you know it wasn't going to be till death do we part? 
I knew I shouldn’t have gotten married before I got married, but I did it anyway. I’m also very glad I did, because my son (who was very much planned) is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. When my husband and I were talking about him leaving, he said to me, “It’s hard to make a promise forever.”

It was the middle of the night. I went in my son’s room, snatched him out of his crib and started rocking him. My husband came in and asked why the hell I got my son out of bed. I exclaimed, “This is forever.” That is the thing I'm most sure of.

+ If married, how much work does it take to maintain and happy and loving relationship with your spouse? 
N/A – A helluva a lot more work than we were willing to give. And that’s ok. We are both better off because of the divorce. In fact, we are all (our son included) better off because of the divorce. (See bit.ly/BrilliantCoparenting.) Interesting that as I reread this article I wrote 17 years ago, a line from it completely resonates with what I wrote above.

How telling is this: “My biggest fear was that I would lose my son in addition to my marriage. Mostly though, I feared that I would lose what was left of me.”

+ If coupled, do you follow traditional gender norms or share responsibilities in a different manner? 
N/A but since I hate rules and boxes, I will answer anyway😊 – There are many things I like about the traditional roles. Now that I think about it, they are mostly related to chores. Men do outdoor stuff and cars, and women do the cooking and laundry. I totally understand that’s “backwards” in today’s environment. I do enjoy mixing it up. For example, I love a man who can cook (especially BBQ—but then again, I’ve always seen that as a “man’s” job anyway—which is even more ridiculous, I know). In an ideal world, all the chores would be hired out and I’d be relaxing, traveling, or dancing with my partner, instead of doing chores in the first place! How’s that for N/A?


+ If coupled, how long have you known each other, been a couple and married (if applicable)? 
N/A—this one I’ll leave alone😊
 
+ Do you believe marriage is still necessary and viable or is it an antiquated institution?
I’m not sure about “necessary” but I’d like to think it’s viable. It certainly has evolved, that’s for sure. I’m just not sure we’ve evolved enough to meet the demands of a marriage.


+ Does religion, family or culture play a role in your dating approach? 
Religion, no. Family, in the past. Family stopped influencing me 10 years ago when I brought a whole new meaning to “Black Sheep” and chose to date outside of my race for the first time. While my family was shell shocked I did it in the end, they fell in love with the person I dated and eyes were opened.

The first night I stayed the night with a new boyfriend after my husband left, my mother told me I was going to “give my father a stroke” because I was an unmarried woman sleeping over with man. She asked what she should tell others if they asked where I was. I replied, “Tell them I’m at [boyfriend’s] house!”

Culture, I suppose. Fucking California! Gonna have to eat some vegetables and do yoga. I had spinach in a pasta dish filled with heavy whipping cream tonight. Do you think that counts? Just put me on record now as saying I will never be vegan. I know, never say never. I have swallowed so many words in just the last five years. You honestly never know. Anything is possible at this point.

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+ What do you want from being coupled that you do not feel when single?

I would like to have a partner. I mean a true partner. Someone who has my back—always and in all ways. I want an emergency contact who knows my medical history and what medications and vitamins I take and how I like my coffee (very sweet by the way). I want someone I can call, one I know will be there without hesitation—no questions asked and no score keeping. Yes, I have plenty of friends who would do this for me. However, I can’t snuggle, fuck, or snugglefuck them, and I seriously desire to have those things in my life once again. They truly are part of a joyful life.

Tanya, 37, Engaged/Common Law Married, Toronto, Ontario

Curious about others experiences in dating and relationships, I posted some questions out on Facebook in early September 2017 to collect stories from a wide range of hearts and experiences in love. This is one of many:

+ if you're coupled, how did you meet?
I have been living common law with my partner who is also the father of my 2 children, for the last 16 years and counting. We are engaged but just never got around to making it official yet, I know complicated but that's the reality. 

+ where did you meet?
As for where we met, we met while working for Home Depot during our early 20's which seems so long ago or just that time flies and life just passes you by. In the course of our relationship, we have dealt with many obstacles from insecurities, jealousy, trust and boundary issues, financial- you name it.

+ are you happy in your current status? Why or why not?
For a very long time, I wasn't happy and always blamed the past, my partner, people etc., only to discover that the true reason for my unhappiness had to do with me not truly accepting, loving myself and taking full responsibility for me and my choices, actions, etc. My partner for the most part helped me to realize my worth  in that he never gave up on me and our relationship and family.  I believe his perseverance, endurance, patience, and overall love helped me in overcoming these obstacles while providing the  opportunity for us to change as individuals, a couple and more importantly as a family. 

+ do you view marriage as a destination or a journey?
I have always viewed marriage as sacred and truly a union to value and believe these days it's somehow been devalued and or depreciated because it has been misrepresented. With that said, I believe this has lead to a false notion as to what marriage should look like, dismissing the truth and that is that it takes constant work, effort, and a choice really in it's maintenance and sustenance. On that note, I view marriage as a journey much like life in that it's not linear there is no real destination except death. Marriage is a commitment and the real destination is in the fulfilling it's vows, forever  making it work until death do we part so to speak. Like anything in life, marriage is a journey of choosing to love that person or not. 

+ if married, how much work does it take to maintain a  happy and loving  relationship with your spouse?
I am not married by traditional means/ritual, but nonetheless hold to the values as best as I know. It takes constant personal development and work in a marriage/relationship. Respect, attention, presence, self reflection, vulnerability, trust, and a willingness to want to make it work from both people is what it takes. Sometimes it takes all the challenging moments of pride, anger/resentment, jealousy insecurities to take time away and see where it leads which is a place where boundaries are formed. Silence and alone times is crucial as well. These moments of distance helps produce patience, endurance and resiliency. At the end of the day the work is in the choice to love this person or not and whether both people want each other in their lives and want the best for each other as individuals and as a couple. In essence, both people are deliberate in their choice and efforts and want each other in each others life. 

+ if coupled, do you follow traditional gender norms or share responsibilities in a different manner?
I don't believe we follow traditional roles so much as our parents did but we share responsibilities which I believe is healthy as it breaks the false beliefs that women or men must be a certain way given our natures, gender roles etc, however, when we interrupt this way of thinking and break free by sharing the same responsibilities it allows for both man and women to feel equally valued and appreciated which I believe is important and healthy for all especially our children and future generations. It's all about unity and not division or inequality.

+ do you believe marriage is still necessary and viable or is it an antiquated institution?
I absolutely believe it's still viable especially in our present day given all the available resources/tools and how easily accessible they are. However, the irony is that statistically speaking, there are more separations/ divorces and a decrease in marriage all together now more than ever. I believe marriage is sacred and still holds true today as I feel it's the most powerful union/relationship we can ever experience. It's an intimacy so profound that it deserves to be respected and honoured as such. I believe today we have forgotten all this because there is too much choice, and the  most powerful one being- to give up. This seems to be the go to first before really examining everything including our individual self and realizing that sometimes the reason for leaving will show up again and again to teach us that perhaps the solution is deep within us and not necessarily without. 

Alvely, 30ish, Married, NC

Curious about others experiences in dating and relationships, I posted some questions out on Facebook in early September 2017 to collect stories from a wide range of hearts and experiences in love. This is one of many:

This is Us

The following is based on my own experience in this relationship. I am certain there will be similarities in Robert's response, but the following is what lives in my heart and my perception of our marriage. 

+ if you’re coupled, how did you meet?

We met on a social media website for Latinos back in 2004 before it was cool to meet people online. I was 17 years old and decided to create a profile just for fun while killing time at the school library during my lunch break. It was not a dating site and it looked like a mixture of Myspace and Facebook. I am grateful to have been bored and making that profile! I messaged him and told him he was cute. I have always been a go-getter. He was wearing a shirt that said "I'm a ray of fucking sunshine." I liked his style.

+ what are your fears & concerns about dating and relationshipping? 
The part on dating does not apply to me, although we make sure to continue dating each other as this creates fun, excitement and we continue to get to know each other as we are constantly growing individually and as a couple. In terms of my relationship, I don’t have any fears. I have learned to let go of any expectations and attachment to the outcome of our marriage. This might be an interesting concept to some, but it is what works for us. As humans, attachment is significant in our lives from the moment we are born and continues to influence our future relationships, but attachment in adulthood and relationships often creates a sense of fear. Robert and I choose to do life from a perspective of love. We do hope to grow old with each other, but there is no attachment there to how it happens. We have future plans but we are not attached to them happening exactly as we imagine or hope. We are aware that we will experience challenges that lead to growth (as we have done so already) and we are secure enough in each other and our love to know that we will work through them and continue choosing each other. Letting go of the attachment and expectations was something we had to learn during a very difficult time in our marriage. That experience healed a lot of the emotional baggage we carried from before we met each other, childhood fears, and generational trauma+fears that had been passed down to us by family. The hardest experience in our marriage was the catalyst to get us where we are today; a place of love and connection without fear. Thich Nhat Hanh put it perfectly- “you must love in such a way that the person you love feels free”. That, my friends, is how we love each other, how we encourage and support each other towards emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical growth without expectations or attachments.

+ are you happy in your current status? Why or why not?
I am the happiest I’ve been for a long time now and I am not attached to this happiness as I know we will have some challenges to tackle together. I choose to be present in this happiness and not worry about the future. This happiness has been possible due to lots of communication and emotional vulnerability with each other. It’s a happiness that is present even when we are not getting along or having some stressful issues to take care of. I choose this happiness on a daily basis and it has improved our individual happiness as well as happiness as a couple. 

+ do you view marriage as a destination or a journey? 
I view marriage as a journey of discovery, challenges, excitement, and growth. I do not believe it is a destination because we are constantly changing and growing and these changes and growth evolves our relationship to the point that we must continue moving forward and traveling the journey of life together. He is my best friend and it is my purpose as his to encourage him towards growth. That cannot be done if we have hidden expectations for each other, as it will only set the other up for failure. Therefore, journeying this life path is a choice that we make on a daily basis. That path will change and sometimes the journey will be more difficult and emotional than we expect, but we trust that it will take us where we belong and teach us what needs to be learned at various stages of our lives.

+ if married, how much work does it take to maintain a happy and loving relationship with your spouse?
Marriage takes a lot of work from both persons involved. There have been times where I’ve given more than 50% and others where he has. I don’t believe in marriage being 50/50 all the time. Robert and I have experienced so much together, from deployments, to mental health challenges, to growing up with each other and finding our identity/purpose as we’ve gone through various life stages, to doing it individually and together. I have not given 50% all of the time and neither has he. But this is not a problem for us, as we know that when the other one is not doing well, the other one will be there to hold us together. I trust him with my life. Robert and I have developed a few values on maintaining our marriage. These are values that are deeply written in our hearts and guide our marriage. They are the foundation of what we’ve built together. Those values include friendship, communication, respect, trust, laughter, honesty and vulnerability. Those are our family values. We know that we are amazing humans on our own, but we are definitely better together. We enjoy spending time on our own, exploring different hobbies/activities, but we always return to each other. We give each other space to miss one another. We use The Five Love Languages every single day and speak each other’s love language. We communicate our needs and wants to each other and hold back from making assumptions on our understanding of what the other has said. We seek clarification instead of judgments or letting resentment build. I strongly believe in and practice The Four Agreements (from Don Miguel Ruiz) and Rob has learned to do so by watching me. We make each other better. We push each other forward. We call each other out on bullshit. We are compassionate with each other. We laugh all the time, and play jokes on each other, and we play games with each other as if we were still children. Playfulness is always a must. We have forgiven each other whenever we hurt each other. We are intentional with our time together and our marriage. We give each other space to grow; as introverts we both need this. We spend quiet time with each other, sitting on our couch, doing our own thing (me reading a book, him reading from his iPad) but being next to each other sharing that moment and space. We talk, actually I do most of the talking, and he listens. He listens so well. He is a man of few words but he is brilliant when he speaks. And we are okay with silence. We are clear with our needs; for example if I need Robert to listen to me or hold space for me to cry, I tell him this. If we want feedback/solutions, we ask this of each other. That has been a lifesaver for us. We don’t set each other up for failure. We practice individual self-care, knowing that we can’t give the best of us to the other if we are not taking care of ourselves on an individual level. We do not expect the other one to make us happy. My happiness is not dependent on him and he is not responsible for my happiness. I am responsible for my happiness, and he is for his. We definitely add value and joy to each other, but we don’t give each other the power or responsibility to make the other one happy. We put each other first, above anyone else. We love hard through all the seasons of our marriage. It’s been difficult. There have been tears, and conflict, and doubts/insecurities, and lots of love and healing. We don't purposely hurt each other. We have seen each other at our absolute worst, and we continue to choose each other. We accept and embrace each other, even the things that annoy us about the other. We are committed to maintaining a loving relationship. He knows my heart and I know his. We are each other’s mirror and teacher. 

+ if coupled, do you follow traditional gender norms or share responsibilities in a different manner? 
We do not follow traditional gender norms. Since the beginning of our relationship things have been pretty equal in our home. We both cook and clean. We both have a say in how we decorate our home. He helps me and I help him. Simple as that. 

+ if coupled, how long have you known each other, been a couple and married (if applicable)?
We have been married for 11 years and together for 13 years. Our relationship has been a mixture of many love songs from “you should let me love you”, to wanting to “smash into you”, to “I don’t want to miss a thing”,  to “I miss you”, to “say something”, to “just give me a reason”, to “just the way you are” and “all of me”  + “thinking out loud”, and so many more that I can’t think of right now. We have experienced all of the emotions in this 13-year relationship. We keep choosing to grow with each other. 

+ do you have couples you know, either personally or from afar, that are your #relationshipgoals? 
I don’t really believe in the #relationshipgoals concept as I think its not realistic to the individual needs of two people in a relationship. To me, relationship goals based on what we see in other couples is a form of expectations and I don’t care for expectations in any of my relationships. In addition, we truly don’t have an idea of what the couples others see as #relationshipgoals are going through or have gone through, and social media is often deceiving. The only relationship goal I have is for the two of us to continue loving and growing together. I do admire other couples based on how they are with each other. My favorite couple is Justin and Emily Baldoni. 

+ do you believe marriage is still necessary and viable or is it an antiquated institution?
I’m not sure about this one. I think people can have a wonderful relationship without being married. I respect everyone’s right to determine what’s the best for them whether that is to get married, live together and make choices based on their needs. I’ll support whatever makes them happy and is aligned with their emotional/mental/spiritual/physical needs and beliefs. 

 

 

Roy, Old Enough to Know Better, Married, Texas

Curious about others experiences in dating and relationships, I posted some questions out on Facebook in early September 2017 to collect stories from a wide range of hearts and experiences in love. This is one of many:

+ If dating, where do you meet people? 
Not dating now.  When I did 13+ years ago, Church, social events, eHarmony

+ What are your fears & concerns about dating and relationshipping? 
As above, I was looking for someone with like views unlike my first wife who had different views politically and as it turned out about family.

+ Are you happy in your current status? Why or why not?
We are very happy.  Life is not all roses.  When you hit the rough road, its how you both get through it that brings you together.  Never go to bed angry, always talk the issues over.

+ Do you view marriage as a destination or a journey? 
Marriage is part of a life time journey.  I always expected to be married to the same woman.  She decided she didn’t want to be married so there was a divorce.  I have remarried and she hasn’t.  My current wife and I are always looking forward together.  We typically do things together. However I am political and she isn’t so doesn’t attend many political events.

+ If divorced, when did you know it wasn't going to be till death do we part? 
I knew when the constable handed me papers.  I do not like to give up on anything.

+ If married, how much work does it take to maintain and happy and loving relationship with your spouse? 
Any partnership takes work. Each needs to work to help the other.  I have found that doing as much as you can to support the other person the more you get in return.  Do no harm.

+ If coupled, do you follow traditional gender norms or share responsibilities in a different manner? 
Marriage is a partnership.  One may be better at one task than another so they take responsibility for that task.  However, a vast majority of tasks are shared.  We both cook, clean, etc.  She believes she irons clothes better than me and won’t let me if she can help it.  I’m color blind so she matches my shirts before I leave in the morning.  Laugh.

+ If coupled, how long have you known each other, been a couple and married (if applicable)? 
My first wife and I knew each other in college for 3 years before the end of our 21 year marriage.  My current wife and I knew each other for 3 months after eHarmony matched us.  We are coming up on our 14th anniversary.  We both were only looking someone to talk to on the phone, go to movies, or dinner.  BTW she was unable to have children herself so I also brought two grown children to the marriage.  She is a fantastic grandmother and step mother.
 
+ Do you believe marriage is still necessary and viable or is it an antiquated institution?
Marriage and intact family is the back bone of society.  Thanks to LBJ, the destruction of the family structure has been going downhill.

+ Does religion, family or culture play a role in your dating approach? 
I have found the proper personal priority is God, family, country, work.  My religion has helped me through tough times.  Although I think God has more faith in me than I do in myself.  Family is extremely important. 

+ What do you want from being coupled that you do not feel when single?
Companionship with love is the best.  People were meant to be together.

Beth, 33, Single, McKinney, TX

Curious about others experiences in dating and relationships, I posted some questions out on Facebook in early September 2017 to collect stories from a wide range of hearts and experiences in love. This is my entry:


+ If you're coupled, how did you meet?
Currently single and on a dating fast, as of yesterday as agreed to with a friend, 09/20/2017. I've mostly met people online, even waaayyyy before it was cool and still in the creepy stages because ... technology wasn't that hip or developed yet. Now, it's all the rage and what the cool kids are doing and I feel myself needing a break from dating and wanting to meet people organically, aka, IN PERSON.

+ If dating, where do you meet people? 
As mentioned above, I am feeling the pull to meet people in person, more naturally and organically than swiping right or left. But, for now, I need a break from all of it. Mostly a mental one. There are things I want to do, accomplish, build and experience to get a further grasp of who I am, what I want and need before entering into another coupleship.

+ What are your fears & concerns about dating and relationshipping? 
My fears here are not the unknown, they are repeating the known. Old patterns die hard. I don't want to push myself into the same old traps, same old emotional patterns and habits. In my adventure of a dating fast, I want to swim too far out to go back to where I've been.

+ Are you happy in your current status? Why or why not?
In short, yes, absolutely. I feel far less alone than I have in some relationships. I'm generally happier when single and think the fear of success and too much happiness & freedom has historically propelled me into relationships, to stay ... normal? Routine? What society expects? I don't have quite the articulation in place yet to match the feelings in my head, but that's the gist of it. I have so much I want to do and experience and build, ideally, in my romanticized fantasy mind, this would all happen blissfully with a partner, working towards the same goals in beautiful synchronicity and harmony. In reality, I've put a lot on hold while I chased around for "the one" and now feel slightly frustrated (with a healthy dose of understanding) with myself for putting off so much. Buying a house, building a business, traveling to certain destinations, picking up certain hobbies, etc.

+ Do you view marriage as a destination or a journey? 
Marriage is a human created, legal institution, under the cloak of religion for many. Put into place by religion as a means of control and conformity, I don't know 100% that it's for me, but also do think it might be for me. Much of me is old fashioned and appreciates old etiquette and some of me is like fuck the rules, I'm making my own path here. I'm undecided in this moment as a single person, but know when the time comes and the situations are right, if it is what we both want, it's what will be, and we will be all in it, together. Marriage and long term commitment, just like many other things, are journeys. If it's a destination, what's next after that? Life is a journey, there are ups and downs, hills and valleys, detours and beautiful experiences. Marriage, similar to a college education, is just the beginning of a very long and heightened experience. When two people are equally, deeply committed and dedicated to the growth, love and support of each other together, and as individuals, amazing things are possible. If two are working as a team, fully encouraging and genuinely actively supportive of each other's dreams, goals, intentions, habits, quirks ... the possibilities are infinite! 

+ If married, how much work does it take to maintain and happy and loving relationship with your spouse?
I'm unmarried and uncoupled currently, so cannot speak to the full extent of this question, but will answer it to my current understanding. It takes a tremendous amount of communication, humility, energy, empathy, sympathy, giving, taking, accepting, setting boundaries, setting each other up for success, asking, reading, learning, growing, writing, listening, talking, walking, understanding, supporting, thinking, feeling, supporting, encouraging, hugging, cleaning, driving and all of the other things required of living. Most people simply need to be heard. Truly heard. When is the last time you genuinely listened to someone? When is the last time someone genuinely listened to you? 
Setting ground rules, boundaries, expectations, understanding each other's limits and talking through literally everything ... taking these from Tom & Lisa Bilyeu's Relationship Theory segments ... are vitally important for laying the foundation for creating love.

+ If coupled, do you follow traditional gender norms or share responsibilities in a different manner? 
Again, not coupled currently, but will answer this based on knowing myself and history. I'm typically a blend of masculine and feminine. I can take charge, fix things, be the one in charge and take care of everyone in a nurturing and loving energy. With two women, the traditional gender norms are not what most consider traditional, but there's never been a question of who does what and who is more alpha, masculine/feminine. 

+ If single, do you go out on dates often? Why or why not, and do you want to have a different answer? 
I don't. Most dates I've gone on have turned quite quickly into relationships. I would like to go on proper dates without expectations or pretenses ...

Q: What's a lesbian take on a second date? A: A U-haul.

+ If single, what do you experience in society? Are you purposefully and happily single, or do you feel pressured to seek a partner? 
I'm purposefully and happily single, without pressure from society but pressure from myself.

+ Do you have couples you know, either personally or from afar, that are your #relationshipgoals?
Absolutely. Ellen & Portia. Channing & Jenna. Tom & Lisa Bilyeu. Oprah & Stedman. Barack & Michelle Obama. Brandi & Catherine Carlile. My Aunt Pat & Uncle Harold. David & Karen Neeley.
 
+ Do you believe marriage is still necessary and viable or is it an antiquated institution?
I think it's a bit overdone. It's a bit hyped up. Too easily accessible. Too easily divorceable. 

+ Does religion, family or culture play a role in your dating approach?
Not structurally. There are certain qualities I'm attracted to and definitely want to harmonize and compliment, some of these are from family history, some from cultural experience. While I'm very spiritual and not at all religious, formal religion doesn't play a part for me. The most discrimination I have ever experienced as an adult has been from Christian family members of my own, and of people I've been in relationships with. That's a whole other blog post and conversation. I will leave it as this: organized religion is not for me.    

+ What do you want from being coupled that you do not feel when single?
A companion that adds to my life, and I add to theirs. A proper partner that has staying power through the tougher days, the grit and determination of love to work through and talk through the tough stuff, with the capacity to love being a part of something bigger than herself. The power of two, which is the power of infinity in compassion, love, like, dates, activities, shared interests and passions, spending time together, building businesses and a beautiful life together, with the foundation of what we both bring to the table as individuals. A strong person to challenge me in a safe space, that is not afraid to be in any social situation, one that embraces life with open arms and a loving heart. Kindness that magnifies loving kindness. A growth mindset that exponentially creates more growth and abundance in love and wealth ... again the power of two, we can grow as individuals but growing together ... that's where shit gets good.  

Grace, 28, Single, California

Curious about others experiences in dating and relationships, I posted some questions out on Facebook in early September 2017 to collect stories from a wide range of hearts and experiences in love. This is one of many:

+ If you're coupled, how did you meet? - Single

+ If dating, where do you meet people? - Dating apps i.e. Hinge - I would probably stick with Hinge at this point. I’ve been on Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel before. Tinder was juvenile and CMB was too Asian lol. And a little too straight-edge.

+ What are your fears & concerns about dating and relationshipping? - That I have to give up some of my freedom. I’ve been told it’s because I haven’t met the right person, which I agree with. But I think that this fear is proving to be empty because I realize there are people out there that are as open-minded as I am, if not more.

+ Are you happy in your current status? Why or why not? - YES, I LOVE singlehood. Before, it was by default. Now, it’s by choice. I know I can go meet a guy on a dating app, go on a couple dates, get serious if I so choose, not out of arrogance, but I just think it’s possible. But I choose not to. I feel that I have things I really want to work on for myself, establish myself, focus on me. And later on, a relationship will happen in its time. So I’m perfectly happy being where I’m at. Plus, the guys I’ve been attracted to and vice versa have been much much older than me (20+ years) and I just don’t think neither the guy nor I can handle that at this time haha. At that age he wants to settle down while I’m over here not knowing what the next year will hold or where it will take me.

+ Do you view marriage as a destination or a journey? - Definitely journey. Marriage is an option, therefore, not a destination. If I choose to be part of one, it will be because it goes with my flow and I go with his. If it doesn’t happen, that’s fine. Or if it happens way later, totally cool. And actually, I’m not too keen no marriage to begin with. Marriage is a manmade construct. There’s no real reason, except for taxes, to get hitched, in my opinion. What the hell does it all mean? Nothing truly spiritually or emotionally meaningful. It’s all for a social purpose. If you love the person and vice versa, then that’s it. Perhaps I’m too naive though lol.

+ If married, how much work does it take to maintain and happy and loving relationship with your spouse? - Not too much. It will definitely require communication and hard conversations here and there. But then, I have this thing where, if things get too hard with the person, I’m pretty down to separate. Nothing is worth my happiness and freedom. I think a truly fruitful and divinely appointed (haha so woo-woo, I know) relationship is one where both partners understand their needs and preferences in relation to the others’. And that we’re all one, and therefore not fighting for what’s “mine”. If we can live in that space, then it really shouldn’t take work beyond the process of getting to know each other, which happens over time.

+ If coupled, do you follow traditional gender norms or share responsibilities in a different manner? - I’m single right now, but I’ve followed norms and done things non-traditionally. I have a natural tendency to want to take care of people (SOMETIMES) but I have no problem with being taken care of haha for example, I don’t cook, or I don’t have an inclination to learn. The last couple guys I dated all cooked for me. I LOVED it. The very last guy I dated, I would take my work laptop out and work at his desk while he cooks and cleans haha. Then when he’s ready, he calls me over and I dig in lol. That was the best, I tell you.

+ If coupled, how long have you known each other, been a couple and married (if applicable)? - N/A but I will say all the guys I’ve dated, I’ve met on dating apps, so I never knew them really well. Which is probably a reason why we didn’t work hahaha.

+ If single, do you go out on dates often? Why or why not, and do you want to have a different answer? - Right now, no dates. I have things I’m focusing on that really matter to me.

+ If single, what do you experience in society? Are you purposefully and happily single, or do you feel pressured to seek a partner? - Purposefully and happily single. I used to sort of feel pressured. But I’ve since learned that none of that shit matters.

+ Do you have couples you know, either personally or from afar, that are your #relationshipgoals- They’re all celebrities, all stuff I see on videos and shiz. I don’t really want to emulate anyone’s relationships I know lol. That says a lot I guess.

+ Do you believe marriage is still necessary and viable or is it an antiquated institution? - Marriage was never necessary. It’s a human construct. I cannot imagine vowing to stay with one person my entire life. At least not right now, maybe my tune will change later lol who knows. But the more I understand myself, I just don’t understand why we have to stick with one person or promise to stick with one person. I think I see marriage as a burden, something that people feel they have to do. But I understand that many people want to vow their lives to each other.

+ Does religion, family or culture play a role in your dating approach? - Yes, they represent horrible dating standards. No, I don’t want to date a perfect guy with a stable job, a nice car, and a good family. There are no rules except mine.

+ What do you want from being coupled that you do not feel when single? - I haven’t been in a serious relationship for a couple years now and I’ve dated a few guys since my ex (we ended September 2015 so exactly 2 years). Nothing makes me miss anything about being with a guy, not even the sex. Even the sex is fun and cool at first, but it gets old. Again, maybe I haven’t met the right guy. Tbh, I’m perfectly fine in that aspect being single. I love my time, my space, my person, my freedom. And I feel loved wherever I go. On the flip side, I know there are more than a few things I’d miss about being single, if I was coupled haha. Like going to the beach alone or hitting up a bar to drink solo without explaining myself.

Sharon, 56, Separated, A Little South of Nowhere

Curious about others experiences in dating and relationships, I posted some questions out on Facebook in early September 2017 to collect stories from a wide range of hearts and experiences in love. This is one of many:

+ If you're coupled, how did you meet?
I met my husband at a bar. We spotted each other right off, and ''sideways'' watched each other all night. Finally I walked up to him and whispered in his ear, "Just act like we are old friends," we were pretty much together every day after that for the last 13 years.

+ If dating, where do you meet people? 
Being newly 'single' (separated) I'm really not looking to meet anyone. I'm really tired of all the hassle and hurt relationships bring, and I'm just studying on myself, my future, and my family.

+ What are your fears & concerns about dating and relationshipping? 
To be honest, the thought of dating scares the crap out of me. People are so strange these days. Add to that you have to get to know someone, they want to know about you. Then you have to open yourself up.....just not anything I'm interested in at this point. I still love my husband very much, and have never been able to see myself with anyone but him. Problem is, he can't seem to form the same picture.!!

+ Are you happy in your current status? Why or why not?
Happy with my current status? THAT'S a loaded question. NO, Because I wanted my marriage, almost to the destruction of myself. Yes, because I have some peace knowing I do not have to deal with all the negativity inundating that relationship.

+ Do you view marriage as a destination or a journey? 
Marriage is a journey. It's almost a living creature to itself. It changes every day. You have to be willing not only to take, but to give. And normally, for a woman, there's a LOT more GIVE. Marriage is not a vacation, it's a job. It's something BOTH partners have to be vested in and work for EVERY day and night. That's not a bad thing, and there can be LOTS of good times. It's just that the good times need to out weigh the bad, and BOTH people in the relationship need to hold the marriage and their spouse as their #1 concern and priority. 

+ If divorced, when did you know it wasn't going to be till death do we part? 
Not yet divorced, but I knew it was not going to be 'til death do we part' when he kept breaking his promise not to do the things he does. 6 years of broken promises felt like enough ''try'' and a damn good reason to move on.

+ If married, how much work does it take to maintain and happy and loving relationship with your spouse? 
I believe every marriage takes a lot of work to maintain. You can't live with someone 24/7 and ALWAYS like them, or even love them. But when they are important to you, you find the ability to love past the issue......unless the issue never goes away, is toxic, and endangers you. Then you need to find the ability to make choices.

+ If coupled, do you follow traditional gender norms or share responsibilities in a different manner?
We would have been considered modern traditional, most likely. We each covered the 'traditional' roles, but we also worked hand in hand to help each other.

+ If coupled, how long have you known each other, been a couple and married (if applicable)? 
We knew each other about 4-5 months before we moved in together, and lived together about a year before getting married. We've known many of the same people all our lives, and our paths had crossed so many different times, We just never came face to face until October 16, 2004. 

+ If single, do you go out on dates often? Why or why not, and do you want to have a different answer? 
Refer to answer #2. I've been on 2 dates, not the same person each time, people I already knew, I'm good. At least for now ...

+ If single, what do you experience in society? Are you purposefully and happily single, or do you feel pressured to seek a partner? 
I guess you would say I'm happily single. I do not miss the stress, arguments, insinuated/perceived comments of an 'other half'. I can do what I want, eat when I want to, or not want to, go to bed when I want and not have to fight for the covers or a piece of bed to sleep on. The down side of it is not having that special person there to share things with, plan things with, or talk to. But life is a hot bed of plus & minus'.

+ Do you have couples you know, either personally or from afar, that are your #relationshipgoals?
GOOD question!! It's funny, the people you think are the happiest, once you get inside and get to know them, have the worst 'behind closed doors' relationships. They just put up a good front. What I do have as a relationship goal is to love and be loved like my mother and grandmothers. THEY had once in a life time loves. But even they experienced bad times.

+ Does religion, family or culture play a role in your dating approach? 
I believe in marriage and the sanctity thereof. What hurts is that I believe society has watered down the need of fidelity in a relationship. 

 

+ What do you want from being coupled that you do not feel when single?
I suppose those things could be factors if I were to choose a different path than I have always traveled. But I'm pretty cut and dry in what I like in a person. The problem appears to be that what I like is not what's good for ME! lol
With my husband, I felt complete and like one half of a whole. That was the best feeling (even though I found out later it was a false reality.) Knowing, or thinking you do, someone enough to know what they think, how they feel, what they need, what they want, is a magical feeling. Loving someone enough not to want to see the red flags, and just keep living the dream makes the world a wonderful place. The only problem is that sooner or later someone opens the window and lets the reality of the world in. Being single, there are no lies, there are no falsehoods, there are no pretenses. It is what it is and you own it.

V.H., Female, 20something, Married, Tennessee

Curious about others experiences in dating and relationships, I posted some questions out on Facebook in early September 2017 to collect stories from a wide range of hearts and experiences in love. This is one of many:

+ If you're coupled, how did you meet?
My husband and I knew of each other from high school, however we did not really converse until we connected on Facebook. 

+ What are your fears & concerns about dating and relationshipping? 
The main concern I am currently facing regarding my marriage is that my relationship with my husband will never mature and grow. I fear that we will be stuck in this rut we are in for the rest of our lives with no escape. 

+ Are you happy in your current status? Why or why not?
No, I am not happy with my marriage. I refuse to believe that this is what marriage is about. My marriage in the present feels like we are just going through the motions. There is no intimacy, there is no connection, no communication, no happiness ... nothing that a marriage needs to thrive and survive. 

+ Do you view marriage as a destination or a journey?
I personally view marriage as a journey. It's not about where you're going it's how you get there. The things you experience together along the way will only make you stronger and grow and improve your relationship. 

+ If married, how much work does it take to maintain and happy and loving relationship with your spouse? 
Even though our relationship is not at its best - I do know it takes two people who are willing to put in a lot of effort to make it work. Right now I feel like I am the only one trying.

 + If coupled, do you follow traditional gender norms or share responsibilities in a different manner? 
I take care of the home, he works full time. 

+ If coupled, how long have you known each other, been a couple and married (if applicable)? 
My husband and I have been a couple for about 6 years, and married going for 2 years. 

+ Do you have couples you know, either personally or from afar, that are your #relationshipgoals? 
Yes there are many relationships that I admire - one of them being Thomas & Lauren Akins. Even through the fame, they remain so humble and genuinely in love. They care and respect each other so much and it shows through their actions. 

+ Do you believe marriage is still necessary and viable or is it an antiquated institution?
I still believe in marriage. God created it, and it is a wonderful thing. It just takes two dedicated people who are deeply in love to make it work. 

+ What do you want from being coupled that you do not feel when single? 
I want a forever best friend that will be there for me through the good, bad, and the ugly and choose to love my despite my many flaws. Someone that I can deeply connect to and experience this crazy thing we call life with. Someone that will constantly reassure me how truly beautiful love really is.

W.A., 20s Female, Single-Divorced, Hawai'i

Curious about others experiences in dating and relationships, I posted some questions out on Facebook in early September 2017 to collect stories from a wide range of hearts and experiences in love. This is one of many:

+ Are you happy in your current status? Why or why not?
I guess right now I am content. I am trying to spend time soul searching and making time for myself. Would love to find someone though..

+ Do you view marriage as a destination or a journey?
 think more of a destination.

+ If divorced, when did you know it wasn't going to be till death do we part?
Honestly, I knew from the beginning that it wasn’t the right move to get married. I met my ex-husband through his dad who was a local customer of mine at the bar I worked at. We went on one date and he had asked me to marry him. We spent a week glued to each others hip. He left back for North Carolina (where he was stationed) and I joined him shortly after. We spent a month together before we got married. I was so nervous and scared to tie the knot with basically a stranger. I thought I could make it work though. It was a lot harder than I anticipated. We fought about EVERYTHING: Spending habits, personal habits, how to spend free time, how to decorate the home, etc. He started spending more time with his friends and the more he did that the more we fought. When we fought it wasn’t just bickering. He had a VERY violent temper. I eventually found hidden messages on his phone with him and another woman and pornagrafic images and videos. When I confronted him about it I was told to “Get the fuck over it, or get the fuck out.” So I made the decision to get on the next flight out. 

+ If single, do you go out on dates often? Why or why not, and do you want to have a different answer? 
I have been out with three guys since I have moved to Hawaii in June. Would like to go on more dates but with high caliber guys. (Which is hard to find in Hawaii lol)

+ If single, what do you experience in society? Are you purposefully and happily single, or do you feel pressured to seek a partner?
Seeing happy couples makes me feel more pressed to find someone.

+ Does religion, family or culture play a role in your dating approach? 
Definitely plays a role in my dating approach. I want to date someone with similar views to my own. I don’t think its possible to successfully date someone with different fundamental values from your own.

+ What do you want from being coupled that you do not feel when single?
I guess I just want the companionship. I want to share my life’s experiences with someone. Have someone to raise a family with. Have someone to create traditions with. Have someone to grow old with.