The relationship status dilemma
It's right about that season of life right now where romances begin kindling, rings are bought and resized, and save the dates are sent out. The feeling is already thick in the air, and it's perhaps only compounded by the fact that Christmas and New Year's are rolling around, wonderful holidays, but also notorious for their relationship emphases. After all, what else could your extended family that you haven't seen in months possibly ask you about other than whether or not you have a significant other yet? Any other questions or life updates (grad school, job promotions, and other achievements) obviously pale in comparison to this all-important query.
Of course, if you have exciting relationship news to share, then this just becomes another item on a long checklist of things you have to rattle off in your holiday update you'll likely have memorized by the third or fourth retelling, but if not, it can quickly become an exhausting story where you explain (or choose not to explain) to your grandparents why you still are not dating anyone. On top of all that, in this college-aged season, or perhaps immediately post-college-aged season, you've probably found it impossible to go a single weekend without hearing about the news that yet another pair of your super cute friends have just gotten engaged. *cue the sincerely heartfelt congratulations but also internal or external eye rolling here* One of my friends actually just mentioned to me earlier this week that if she sees another engagement before the New Year, she's going to deactivate her Facebook account for her own sanity.
We're waiting for our number to be called when there's no screen telling you which one is next and all the numbers are being called out of order.
For some of us, the frustration and cynicism come in when we're genuinely happy for those friends who have found their loves, but at the same time, we find ourselves still queued up waiting for our number to be called when there's no screen telling you which number will be next and they're all being called out of order. It stems out of seeing all the people you love having been called forward through that magical doorway and you continuing to wait for your turn to come up all the while the same people are texting you from the other side asking why it's taking so long. It just makes you want to scream back that if it were up to you, you'd have been inside first!
For others of us, the ones that happen to fall into the box of LGBTQ Christians, that same frustration and cynicism are present, but the underlying dynamic is likely much more complex at its root. Not only are the same overarching factors still in play, but other elements get thrown into the mix too, such as: what you personally believe about relationships for yourself, whether or not your family/friends will support a relationship of yours, what kind of impact your theological/psychological background will have on the entire equation of a relationship, and then all the nitty gritty details of what a relationship actually implies for you should it come to fruition, details that other people might not have to think twice about.
Will you be able to take your significant other to church, as your significant other? Will you be able to bring them home for holidays? Will you have to explain yourself and validate your relationship over and over? Will you be able to post pictures/updates with your significant other on social media? And should it come to that point, will you be able to announce an engagement, and will it be met with the same widespread enthusiasm as it would for a straight couple?
Though it's not all doom & gloom or pity party central if you don't have a significant other around certain holidays, it is an acknowledgement that it's not always 100% merry and bright every time the Christmas lights get broken out. It's not that single people are feeling sorry for themselves constantly or that married people or relationship-ed people are devils, it's just that as a part of Christian culture, we've been conditioned and taught to exalt romantic relationships perhaps too much, framing it as the focus or even a sign of a successful Christian life, and that can cause people to feel like they're missing out or like they've been deprived of something they deserve if they haven't found it yet.
We like to say that there's "a reason for the season," so we should reemphasize and refocus on that as Christmas comes around. And at the same time, let's have a greater sense of awareness towards people that might be hurting for one reason or another come the days when we're all supposed to be filled with holiday cheer. Maybe they've lost loved ones. Maybe family dynamics are hard. And maybe most things are good and as they should be, but they're still struggling with that lack of a relationship that Christian culture has always put on a pedestal. For all these places of hurt, let's be more self-aware this year.
What have your experiences with the holidays been? Let me know in the comments below!
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