Three weeks into a new job and I received the first invitation to socialise with colleagues outside of work. I was looking forward to the party as a chance to see what everyone was like in their free time, and for them to meet my partner, who had been asked about in the office. That is, until he said he couldn’t make it. At which point, I considered not going after all.
At least, I did until I stopped and thought about why I was so disappointed. My immediate thought (and the one I put to him) was that I need the moral support when meeting new people. But when I was single I used to go to parties by myself all the time. I used to do almost anything by myself all the time: public meetings, campaign events, cinema trips. I even once dined alone after a friend told me at the last minute that he couldn’t make it: it was fine, I still enjoyed myself. Last year I took a solo holiday and met a load of new friends at Alive in Berlin.
So why has being engaged stopped me going to things on my own?
It’s true that we really like spending time together. But I also love spending time by myself. Just apparently not at places and events with other people.
Thinking about it some more, I feel I might have fallen foul of social expectations. When you are part of a couple, people start seeing you as a unit. They use horrible phrases like “other half” that suggest that you are only a half person on your own. You only ever get invited to things as a pair. You’re asked where the other one is if you do go somewhere alone.
Then people wonder why they can sometimes feel trapped in relationships.
But I also feel pretty goddamn lucky. So lucky that such an amazing person wants to marry me that I like to show him off. I’m becoming more and more aware of how not being one of the cool kids at school continues to affect how I see social interactions. I try and prove my worth by wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, and yes, having a bearded tattooed man on my arm. Which is unfair, because he’s a whole person too.