“I self sabotaged intimacy, made fun of people who publicly loved their boyfriends” Shon Faye
Let’s start with this quote straight. In her latest essay for Dazed and Confused, Shon Faye (follow on twitter) made me think about something I hardly even realized – just until yesterday. Once her thoughts slipped through, my behavior – and that of many others – became transparent to me.
I stopped posting pictures of my love life since I broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years in 2015. As if anything which followed, anyone who followed wasn’t important to me, as if I as an internet person had no sexuality, because I had already failed as a romantic being once and should be punished for our mutual fault for the rest of my social media days. I felt as if I was not allowed to post cute pictures with my affairs and lovers, as if they fucking didn’t exist. As if I had lost any right to do so, because I am, because I was single.
To be honest: I was cynical about people who showed their affection online even before my break-up. “It’s private”, I usually told myself, “I don’t want others to participate in this part of my life” – as if love wasn’t political. As if happily-ever-after Daniel and Susanna would not set specific social rules and standards just by their pure existence, define what’s appropriated and what isn’t by talking about it. Think about all the pictures of marriages or problematic, idealizing hashtags like #justcouplethings.
Monogamy? Very accepted, still, no offense on that one. Making out with strangers you met on the internet? Inside your WhatsApp-Groupchat and at drunken gurls nights out: probably. But have you ever posted these experiences publicly? Did you share, or did you hide them? Ask yourself why. Do you yourself set social rules or just aggressively stare at those others made up for you until you feel lonely af? Do you rather wait for someone “to settle down”, to frame the same sujets which perfectly fit your instagram-feed again and again? Pictures can be very powerful, we don’t have to conduct Susan Sontag for that, right?
“I struggled with a voice in my head that told me I was only valid as a person if I could achieve the embarrassing ideal of romantic love.”
Don’t get me wrong: It’s not as if anyone was telling it straight to my face not to do so. Even if there’s no written rule for showing off your feeling on social media, I still feel kind of pressured, when I try anything outside “the norm” and a selfie-stick. Although storys disappear within a day and everything tends to be “made for the moment”, I was (am?) struggling with posting intimate moments. As a person, who shows more or less private parts of her life online, I felt that I was cutting something out. As If I was editing my life, deliberately leaving out some of the best parts of my life. Sure, I could post a picture of myself at some place, myself watching a movie, myself eating with a friend – but what about dates? What about lovers? What about falling asleep on trains with the person you’re seeing since some weeks? What’s with them? Where are they?
It’s 2017, and we as a society are still dealing with a tremendous imbalance between “officials” and “non-officials”. The latters are nonexistent to many – not only when it comes to social media. As long as you are not “exclusive”, there’s no way you would introduce someone to your co-workers or your online community without being looked at, judged in a way I can hardly even describe. It confuses people, if you’re single and seeing (different) people without putting a ring on it. When you’re a couple, people expect you to have sex at least once a week. If you’re single and having more sex than that, you’re suspicious.
It’s a fucking double standard, isn’t it?
I know, it sounds ridiculously conservative. But think about social media channels you’re following. You can see if someone’s “taken” (I hate this phrase, no one will ever own me except myself) by looking at their feed and spotting one person over and over again. People do so, because society allows them to show their love publicly. Sure, people like Shon and me would have made fun of them eventually, but just because – and here I have to speak for myself – I felt insecure of showing my story. Because I was ashamed of showing bits and pieces of the private life I am living at the moment. There are only a few people admitting openly they’re happy and single. Slutever was, in that terms, always a role model for me.
I was still kind of surprised how much “intimacy outside of exclusive relationships” is a topic when I looked at all the instagram-DMs I received yesterday. After posting a pic of the lovebites I left on a lover’s neck people sent me pictures of their lovebites, messages just saying “YES” or “WORD”. Some even included screenshots of my story into their storys, which felt very empowering.
Obviously, many of us feel the wish to show the love they have at the moment, because that’s all we’ve got, right? Even if it doesn’t last forever. I mean, come one: how many relationships do anyway?
There is different kind of love and different kind of expression. I don’t only wanna see the stuff what happens when someone’s official. Sunsets at Bali, breakfast in Berlin Mitte and shit. I wanna see you running around naked with the guy you just met a week ago at a party. (Ask for consent, though) I wanna see lovebites, I wanna see you wearing his shirt and having this super fresh smile on your face while watching Interstellar. I wanna see hands and lips and hips and tits and I don’t want you to be ashamed of the time you’re not in a relationship anymore. Lust is a beautiful thing, it is and it has been a major drive in my (work) life and I don’t want to miss any of the moments where I felt truly connected with another human being. Boyfriend or not.
So, feel free to send me your photographs via DM (@groschenphilosophin) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you just want to get rid of them and still don’t feel comfy enough to post them online. Also, let me know if you want to be featured on my channels (#lovebits) in case I’m gonna write something else about this topic. Tell me, how you feel about your lovelife at this particular day. Not tomorrow, not in the near future.
If we start sharing our experiences publicly, we can free ourselves from rigid relationship patterns one day eventually.
Stop erasing your experiences.