By: Chantel Ouellet
During this time of the year it can seem like everyone is either in a relationship or trying to get in a relationship. It is the pinnacle of “cuffing season,” the name given to the colder months where people look for a significant other to get “cuffed” to.
It can be easy to forget that there are many U of T students who do not have a significant other. They find the whole need for an “other” quite insignificant in their lives. We spent some time talking to their thoughts on being single and being in love.
Jon, 20, “Single (af)”
Photo Credit/Chantel Ouellet
the newspaper: Are you pursuing sexual relations outside of an emotional relationship?
Jon: Not currently. I’ve been there, [but] it’s not as much fun as it seems and I’d rather have an emotional relationship. But I’m not always opposed to it—there are moments when it’s fun.
the newspaper: If love isn’t a top priority right now, what is your top priority right now?
J: I would say school but, um … that’s not going so well, either. I think right now my priority is myself. I sometimes say I’m dating myself, which is fun. I mean, if you look at it from the outside, it’s kind of lame and lonely, but it’s good because you get to focus on yourself. You don’t have to worry about what other people want, [so you can] just look after you.
tn: In what ways have you been focusing on yourself?
J: Self-confidence. Being able to interact with people. I wouldn’t say I have full-blown social anxiety, but [I have] quite a bit (or used to) and I couldn’t go out and do things I wanted to and it was affecting the way I was living my life. I wanted to do things, but could not. I kind of just worked on focusing on myself and figuring out what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, and then I kind of got better.
tn: How would you define love?
J: Love, to me, is basically just knowing that someone is there with you through it all. That everything you do is acknowledged and appreciated by someone. Not only do you have a fan girl [but] you are also a fan girl. I think the biggest sign of love, for me, personally, was being able to just look at the other person and have the whole world actually fade away. I think that love is just that feeling of someone being a part of you. When you feel their pain, physically and emotionally. When you would sacrifice so much to make them better. Love is the ability to be 100 per cent genuinely yourself and never feel inferior. When you’re together, you feel like nothing can ever top that.
Anonymous, 19, Single
tn: Are you in a relationship right now?
A: [I’m in a] friends with benefits thing but not. It’s treated like a relationship, but a really casual relationship. It feels like a committed relationship with sexual relations, but it’s not.
tn: What are some ways you focus on yourself while being single?
A: Read a book? No, but reading and writing. When I do have time to write, I spend a lot of time writing. For example, in November it’s National Novel Writing Month and during that month I kept the guy away because I just wanted to have more time for the writing that I did. I spend a lot of my time writing and reading, a lot of [it is] stuff relating to school but it’s for personal enjoyment. [For example], the legal field, there is so much you can read into that. I spend a lot of my time reading different things, fiction or nonfiction.
tn: Do you ever feel lonely or get sad because you’re single?
A: I’ve never felt sad about not having something special. Not sad in a very permanent way. Of course in passing maybe if I’m watching a rom com, [but] everyone feels sad in passing while watching a rom com. [However, a] sustained sadness, no, I don’t have time for that. [Just remember] that being single doesn’t have to be a sad thing; you don’t have to have a relationship. You can balance your life in different ways that doesn’t include relationships. The single life can be just as fulfilling and [you can] feel special about yourself.
tn: How would you define love?
A: It’s hard for me to [define] because my parents had an arranged marriage so there’s no role model in love there. Ever since coming to university I’ve slowly seen people from my culture getting into relationships and getting ready to get married. Love from my background, which I think I would agree with and want, is a mutual respect. When I am thinking about love, I am thinking about this person that I am going to have to marry in a couple of years, whoever it is, and having to fall in love with whoever my parents choose for me to marry. That ideal person, well–you compliment each other, obviously, personality-wise, but also have a respect for each other, want that [other] person to succeed and have ambitions together. It is like a partnership, like being friends, but closer than that.
Simona, 19, “Single pringle (don’t put single pringle, but yeah—single).”
the newspaper: Does your love of something else trump a love or desire to be with people?
S: Art, man, just does weird shit to people. It fills up that hole in your chest.
tn: You said once [to me] that you run from the mushy stuff.
S: That’s maybe something I don’t love about my personality. My immediate family is not into huge displays of affection, we think it’s tacky. The lovey mushy stuff—we never did that. [I was once told that] the first person that says “I love you” loses. It’s just me, who I am, my brain chemistry—I find that huge displays of emotions are tacky and I don’t like them. I don’t know how to deal with it, so I bolt. I think it’s a lot more common in young women than movies and TV would have us to believe. I don’t want a ring on my finger, I just want to chill.
tn: What do you gain from being single?
S: Time to look inward [and] time [needed] to have better relationships in the future. When you are very single for an extended period of time, you still have a need for affection or to sleep with someone but you can get that in other ways. You know how to be on your own. Every single Taylor Swift song that was shitty happened before she knew how to be alone. [You learn to say] “I’m fine, it’s going to be fine.” You know it’s not all down to them.
Natalia, 20, Single/It’s complicated
Photo Credit/Chantel Ouellet
tn: Are you single?
Natalia: It’s easier to say he’s my boyfriend [but] we don’t like using the label. He’s just my Richard. I don’t say significant other [and] I don’t say boyfriend unless people know what I’m referring to. To new people I don’t say that he’s my boyfriend. I don’t call him anything.
tn: What do you not like about committed relationships?
N: I don’t like being told what to do. I’ve noticed that when it comes to guys, I don’t take them into consideration when I do things. I don’t like the thought of anyone being at home thinking, “Oh, what is she doing? What is she getting herself into?” I have so many friends that are hitting their early twenties and are ready to be wives. I don’t want to commit myself to anything yet.
tn: How do you spend the time that you would have spent with your significant other?
N: My work–my actual work. It’s actual nonsense how doing your readings makes such a difference. I actually have time to do school-related things, and when I’m in class, I’m not anxious to get out of class to Skype him. It’s a lot of extra time that I didn’t have before.
tn: Do you think more people classify as being single because there is less pressure to define or label relationships?
N: Labels mean something to some people, but for some others it does not. There is pressure [when] he is my boyfriend or when I have to be his girlfriend. What is a girlfriend? What does that even mean? It’s a completely different dynamic. You can’t compare being a high school girlfriend with being an adult girlfriend because it’s not the same. I like it because it takes away the pressure. [It takes away] a set of guidelines of what I have to be.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-inside/insignificant-other/.