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Everything Is Complicated

We have all been asked, some of us on a regular basis, about our relationship status. Social networking sites like Facebook have relationship status as a standard profile question. Our answers generally fall into defined categories: I’m married; I’m engaged; I’m in a relationship; I’m single. For those that feel they don’t fall into the standard categories there is also “it’s complicated.” It’s a simple answer to a simple question that explains non-simple situations. I think it’s also a reminder that the truth of any situation is not so easily categorized. The honest answer for every relationship status question should be “it’s complicated.”
Labels are convenient but can be overly simplistic. Relationships are not what always what they appear to be. You can find many examples of this fact in the lives of politicians, athletes, and celebrities:
• Elliot Spitzer – married but had sex with prostitutes in posh downtown Washington, DC hotels
• Larry Craig – married but liked picking up men in airport bathrooms
• John Edwards – married but separated due to fathering a child with a campaign employee
• Mark Sanford – married but soon to be divorced because of an affair with a reporter from Argentina that happens to be his “soulmate”
• Tiger Woods – married but in rehab for sexual addiction following an ever growing number of affairs (see also David Duchovny)
• John Terry (professional soccer player in England) – married but had numerous affairs including one with the partner of a teammate
• Tom Cruise – married but it’s a sham (allegedly)
• Lindsay Lohan – single but who they hell knows what else
The standard relationship labels are also a way to prevent the transmission of sensitive or secretive information, particularly to people you don’t know well or have just met. I don’t think anyone would say at a party or would want their Facebook relationship status to say any of the following:
• I’m cheating
• I’m having an emotional affair
• I’m only in it for the sex
• I’m secretly in love with my best friend
• I’m in the closet
• I’m not over my ex
• I’m settling
• I’m frustrated
• I’m seeing a dominatrix
These things are best laid bare in a therapist’s office, after a few drinks with a good friend, or through Post Secret. I think we have all attached qualifiers to our relationship statuses whether openly or secretly. We are complex beings that engage in complex relationships and sometimes our desires face off against societal norms or expectations.
Life is full of issues even for those that are happily categorized by a relationship status. Things are never completely simple or easy. However, sometimes it’s in the complications where we learn the most about ourselves and the ones we love. I think we can all point to relationships in our past where things were messy or hard that led to a better understanding of who we are and what we want.
Acknowledging that things are complicated is not only honest but a good thing as well. So perhaps we should all answer the relationship status question by saying, “I’m married/engaged/in a relationship/single but it’s complicated and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

5 responses to “Everything Is Complicated”

  1. Will Will says:

    Rob, great interpretation of this month's theme. Very well done!

  2. Avatar WreckedUm says:

    I was always under the impression that, when applied to relationship status, "It's Complicated…" meant "We broke up but are still having sad, pathetic, co-dependent sex on the weekends when no one is looking." Regardless, this was a great read, thought provoking and insightful. I have to wonder how many people unsure (or completely sure) of their own relationship status read this with a nervous giggle, wide-eyed stare, teary sniffle or forehead smacking "Oh shit!" when one of the labels hit a little too close to home.

  3. I'd like all of these labels added to Facebook and am going to be petitioning them with this request, would anyone like to join me?

  4. Avatar tee says:

    You forgot my favorite one: I'm "involved" with a friend… but neither of us is willing to admit to it yet.

  5. Avatar Rosalyn Lask says:

    Great post, I am regular visitor of this blog, keep on writing these great posts, and I will be a regular for a very long time.

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rcmjd2k About rcmjd2k

rcmjd2k is a 36 year old recovering law school graduate who is trying to navigate his way through life. He lives in Washington, DC with his basset hound.

Read more by this author on 30POV .


December 2010
November 2010
On My Honor
October 2010
Witch Hunt
September 2010
If, Then.
May 2010
Small Crimes
April 2010
February 2010
"It's Complicated"
January 2010