1. How long have you been together? THAT LONG? Oh my God, that’s so long. I don’t know how you do it.
I’ve been with Jack for over ten years. That’s quite some time, as my friends and new acquaintances often like to point out. Clearly, being completely numerically illiterate, it’s news to me.
I get asked this question every time someone asks about Jack for the first time. And I always know what the reaction will be. Firstly, shock. Then, a mixture of admiration and envy and then finally, as the person decides that ten years of a committed relationship at such a young age is just plain crazy, their face finally settles on a look of condescending pity. As if I’ve survived some sort of tornado. The worst part is, rather than at least pretending to be happy for me, people don’t even try to conceal their horror at this information. Some have even grimaced. GRIMACED. As if I’ve just told them that Jack and I like to scrape the sweat off each other’s backs. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth there. Sorry.
2. You two are so cute.
Roughly translates to ‘Get a room. You’re disgusting.’
3. When are you two gonna get married?
Me and Jack are not engaged. There’s a simple explanation: if we could be, we would be. Now, you would think that that’s quite simple to comprehend but oh no, I get asked this on at least a weekly basis.
I don’t understand how a question like this became acceptable when you can’t ask some women their age without feeling like you’ve just spat in their faces. I mean, surely delving into someone’s private life is much more offensive? On our ten year anniversary, I got messages of congratulations on Facebook. Out of roughly twenty messages, eight had variations of ‘so, when’s Jack gonna pop the question?’
Think about it. There’s obviously a reason why he hasn’t. It’s not like he’s going to read the comments from my friends and say ‘yeah, Larry the accountant who I met once three years ago has a point. I need to get my sh*t together.’ Instead, what we both think is ‘why are people we barely know making us feel bad?’
There’s a very simple reason we’re not engaged. We can’t afford to get married. Jack has lamented several times that he can’t propose and part of me hates society for making him feel that he has to. He’s often said things like ‘I hate that I can’t buy you a ring or give you the perfect wedding.’ The thing is, I don’t want any of that (except some kind of ring, hey, call me traditional… and a lover of jewellery) because I’m really not into the whole big white wedding thing. A wedding would just seem like a luxury at the moment. (For those of you who want to know, Jack is studying for a PhD and I’m a teacher struggling to find work so we’re not exactly rolling in it*.) And anyway, why should the pressure be on him solely?
What irks me though is that when people ask us this, they don’t know how terrible it makes us feel. Jack feels like some kind of failure (which is rubbish but he doesn’t listen to me) and I want to scream ‘WE WOULD LOVE TO GET MARRIED BUT CAN’T RIGHT NOW YOU JACKASS’. Instead, it’s usually something like *nervous giggle* ‘We need more time to be sure, hee hee’
So, in summary, if you ever ask me this question, I will silently hate you. Possibly forever. Unless you redeem yourself with a gift of chocolate/bacon cake. That doesn’t exist yet? Well, you’d better get cracking then.
3. How did you meet?
I can never, ever answer this because I basically come out of it looking like a bitch. Which I’m not. I’m really, really not. *awkward silence*
4. Aw, you do everything together.
This is not a compliment. This is friend/acquaintance’s way of saying ‘You’re freakin inseparable and I hate it! It’s weird!’
The thing is, I can understand people’s issue with this to some extent. One of my best friends recently fell madly in love and is engaged. I have probably seen her twice in the last six months. When she does make time to see me, her fiancé is usually in tow. I like him and all, but it would be nice to spend some quality time with my friend, alone. Jack and I get this. We understand that not everyone wants to
constantly be around a couple. Does anyone?
When a friend of mine calls, Jack will be polite, have a quick chat with them and then leave us alone. I do the same for him. I’ve been on three holidays without him. He’s been on a few without me. I don’t accompany him when he goes for coffee with his college friends. He doesn’t come to my work parties. For most of the day, I’m at work. During my holidays, he’s in his office. I’ve been out without him a lot lately because he’s been busy. So even though we see a lot of each other, we don’t spend every waking, breathing moment together. We don’t want to. We love each other’s company but you have to keep the relationship healthy.
Despite all this, a work colleague recently passed a comment that we spend all our time together. I find it ironic that as she said this, I was at work; i.e. not with Jack. This particular colleague is single and often tells me how lucky I am. However, this comment seemed like a criticism. The funny thing is (depending on your definition of funny), I’ve only spend a minuscule amount of time with her outside of work. And when I have, it’s been minus Jack. What needs to be understood is, I live with Jack. So a lot of my anecdotes obviously revolve around him. My day-to-day life is filled with events that concern him in some manner. I enjoy his company and we have fun together. I don’t think there’s anything remotely wrong with that.
5. Do you ever argue?
This is one of those questions that the asker already knows the answer to and is just trying to illicit some gossip as well as possibly ignite some kind of tension.
Every single couple argue. If you don’t, then there’s something wrong with you. Or you’re the Flanders.
Arguing is a healthy way to resolve tension. As long as it’s done in a constructive and calm manner, and it always it, am I right? *guilty laugh*
Ok, so we argue. And sometimes it’s not pleasant. That’s reality though, children. By asking a couple this question, you’re basically reminding them of the things they argue about and that’s NEVER good. This is exactly how the conversation will go:
Annoying friend: Do you guys ever argue?
Partner 1: Not really. *nervous laugh. Silence*
Parter 2: Well, maybe sometimes.
AF: Like, about what?
P1: Oh, nothing really.
P2: Small things.
AF: Like what though? I just can’t imagine it.
P1: Well, it’s nothing really, but sometimes she leaves her teabags in the sink. I just find that really disgusting.
AF: Oh, that would bug me.
P2: Oh for God’s sake, it’s not like I’ve committed a crime. And if you want to talk about disgusting, lets talk about SOMEONE leaving their toenail clippings on the bed.
AF: WHAT? Ew. That’s so gross!
P1: What the hell did you say that for? I don’t do that! Well… you use all the milk and then put it back in the fridge. It drives me insane.
P2: You eat all the cereal and put it back in the press. And you snore.
P1: So do you! And you leave the towel on the ground when you get out of the shower.
P2: Well it’s better than leaving my underwear everywhere! You are disgusting!
P1: If I’m so disgusting, why are you with me?
P2: Maybe I shouldn’t be.
And there you go, Annoying Friend, you’ve ruined a relationship. Extra assh**e points for taking a side.
6. Where’s (insert partner name)?
Although some people imply that Jack and I spend too much time together, others seem to wonder how I can do anything without him. I’ve often shown up for social occasions that I’ve been invited to (and that Jack might not have been because the person simply doesn’t know him and it’s not a couple type event) and I will often get asked this by others at the event. I will then usually have to explain that he’s busy with his thesis. But why should I have to? I’m not a rude person, or overly sensitive, so I’m always polite when someone asks. I’d like to point out that there’s two types of people who ask. The first type ask because they like Jack. That’s totally fine. The other type ask in a way that seems judgemental. They don’t know Jack and their tone often seems accusatory. Particularly if I’m in a bar. I’ve often replied ‘somewhere he’ll never be found.’
I often wonder, however, why so many people fail to understand that Jack and me just want some time apart or that we sometimes like to socialise separately. It doesn’t make our relationship any less loving. It doesn’t mean we’re going to “misbehave” by dancing naked on a bar stool with a greased up male stopper who’s dressed as a Native American. Ahem.
* ‘it’ being money, not faeces