I have this romanticised notion that one of the most fulfilling things that can come out of a relationship – a solid partnership one – is that you support each other and provide the necessary ego-boosts that give confidence and drive. When you are single you are a one person cheerleading squad which, for me at least, seems to mean flurries of activity focussed on a new pet project whilst other aspects of life are conveniently ignored or start to grow the duel fungi of indecision and low self-esteem.
I think a lot of this perception comes from my friends in long-term relationships. Even before their dependents were conceived, they were buying bigger houses and better cars. They were getting the promotions and successfully applying for jobs that were seemingly three rungs up the career ladder as opposed to my customary one.
Is it just that I am the slow and steady snail in this race and the hares will tire and burn out, or is it rather that they had a partner pushing and supporting them towards self-betterment and improved holiday locations?
I’m not very good at receiving feedback; I generally hear criticism and want to argue defensively or hide under my duvet when I get advice from a well-meaning friend. It’s the main reason I talk myself out of even completing most job applications let alone attending interviews when offered them. I can’t take the rejection and it’s these moments that I can escape from and give my excuses. I languish in my fur-lined rut of a pig pen when I suspect someone with a partner would be cajoled into making that extra effort. After all, they have someone on retainer at home to salve their ego if they fail.
Of course, the flip side to the support is the nagging. The sense you have to provide and live up to your partners expectations. The need to sacrifice self for the greater good of your relationship, family, mortgage, lifestyle, social standing….
I may not have a champion but I also have the space to make my own decisions and weigh up the pros and cons and to try and figure out what will make me, if not happy, contented. I have the luxury to factor in my ethics as well as my mortgage – I am the only one that will, indeed does, suffer. It’s just a shame my lack of drive means I’m stuck on the bus and not driving a nicer car to the office each morning.