The Dual Purpose Relationship-status Question

Dec 25, 2013 by

          “I shouldn’t have avoided the mall so much over the past couple of months. There are so many cute guys here at Christmas time!” I remarked to my friends, who were doing some last-minute Christmas shopping yesterday afternoon.

          “Look at her!” one of them proudly said to the other. “She’s finally paying attention!”




          Last night, while driving to my parents’ house for Christmas Eve, the best food holiday, I felt unexpectedly empowered by my singleness. This holiday season, I told myself, is going to be the last one that I will be consecutively single for over twenty years. Although it would be great to have a boyfriend to kiss now, amongst the winter wonderland of crystallized trees created by Toronto’s recent ice storm, next winter will suffice. Next year at this time, I will be in a relationship, I promised. That’s not to say that my future boyfriend will be joining my family for Christmas Eve (I think families and boyfriends are best kept separate until things get serious), but I will have one to proudly speak of. (Dear one-year-from-now Maria, you better have made this happen. Otherwise, you’re making me look absolutely foolish, girl.)

          Today, my extended family that I hold not-so-dear could have turned this positive mindset to mush, if I weren’t so good at laughing things off. Before exchanging gifts with Olivia tonight, I spent the evening at my parents’ (which I don’t normally do on Christmas, but my dad wanted to fix my low car tire that was costing him sleep #parentalparanoia #lovehim!). Afterward, I went by my zia’s house (which I also don’t usually do on Christmas, but it saved my dad from having to go out of his way to deliver presents somewhere that was on my way home), where my dignity as a single, independent woman was attacked (but not tarnished, friends!). One of my dad’s sisters, who I see so infrequently that she thought I still live with my parents (recall that I first moved out at 17), asked, “Do you have a partner?

          For what seemed like hours jammed into seconds, my mind raced for an answer, unsure of how to cope with that word: partner. It posed two questions in one:

          1. Are you still single?
          2. You’re straight, right? (It’s cool if you’re not, but you are, right?)

I’ve never heard partner come out of any of my family members’ mouths – ever! Yet, there it was, presented to me like poison in a glass – that cringe-worthy word that every twenty-something single chick dreads in reference to her pending relationship status: partner. Use of the term is unbelievably ironic. It is meant to be neutral, yet is anything but. Her choosing to use the word partner over boyfriend implies uncertainty about my sexual orientation. I take extreme offense to the assumption that being a single girl at 24 implies lesbianism. Single twenty-something guys are praised for their bachelor status. Why are single twenty-something girls written off as gay spinsters? While there is nothing wrong with being gay (love whomever you want to love, friends), there is something very wrong with the double standard between single men and single women. Though I found her question amusing (Olivia and I had a good laugh about it during our annual our-families-are-fucked Christmas recap), because such awkward scenarios are so typical of my life, I still wanted to bust that bitch’s Botox (yeah, she’s one of those). I take back what I said about the end of the family relationship-status questions being worse than the relationship-status questions themselves. I would definitely take assumptions that I’m boyfriendless over implicit accusations that I’m boyfriendless for a reason. Merry fucking Christmas!

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