Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Go Ahead, Call Me a Hypocrite

In my last post I wrote about how much unhelpful "advice" bothers me. Specifically, I said it offends me most when the well-intentioned advisors give advice when they clearly haven't taken my personality, where I'm coming from, or what I want and need into consideration. And in just a little over two days I've been seriously tempted to make a hypocrite of myself. Twice.

Yesterday, one of my absolute best friends in the whole wide world, K, sent me an email announcing that she's buying a house. As background information, she and her boyfriend have been living together for a few months now, and dating for a couple years. They had recently been looking to rent a house, and during the hunt my friend decided to buy instead. She didn't mention whether she'd be buying it on her own or with him. This didn't stop me from nearly firing off an email with the entirely unsolicited advice, "Whatever you do, don't buy the house with your boyfriend."

I almost had the same response again this morning. I logged onto Facebook to discover that one of my close friends from college, J, had changed her relationship status to "engaged." Once again, my gut instinct was to send her an email that said something along the lines of, "Don't do it!" I had to take a deep breath and bite my tongue before I came to my senses and sent the much more appropriate, "Congratulations."

Why these responses? In both cases, it had absolutely nothing to do with my friends or their boyfriends or their relationships. Both K and J are great gals, dating great guys, and they're in solid, loving relationships. My responses had nothing to do with them and everything to do with me.

In the case of K's impending home purchase (and really, I'm happy for her) it was because when I read the news, I immediately flashed back to the purchase of my own house. My ex and I bought it together before we were married (we put the offer in before we were even engaged). It seemed like a practical decision at the time. We knew that we wanted to get married in the next couple years, and the mortgage, including insurance and property taxes, would be around what we were paying in rent. It just made financial sense. And it continued to make sense, right up until we got a divorce. Then it seemed like just about the stupidest thing I could have done. There's no good reason to think this. Dealing with the property division made the divorce a little more expensive, and I had to refinance to get him off the mortgage, but really, it only made things slightly more complicated.

I think it's the second instance that illuminates things a bit more. J and her boyfriend have been together for 9 years. They met in college, and after graduation she moved across the country to be with him. Then they moved back across the country together. And then they moved halfway around the world and backpacked through various third world countries together. All this, and neither one of them has made any attempts on the other's life (or none that are documented, anyway), and they still want to be together. If anyone should know whether or not they can stand to be married to each other for the rest of their lives, it's them. Clearly, my gut instinct to scream, "Run for the hills before it's too late!" is both off-base and not at all about them or their relationship.
It is - surprise, surprise! - about me. More specifically, it seems like it's about not wanting to get tied down again, which isn't really something I thought I was concerned about. If you were to randomly ask me whether I wanted to re-marry, I would say yes, definitely. I have nothing against marriage or being married or having a husband. And as I mentioned before, there was no real harm in buying the house with my ex before we married (although it could have been much more of a hassle had we broken up before we tied the knot or if the divorce had been less amicable). It's that I was so miserable at the end of the marriage, and it was such a pain in the butt (and expensive) to get out of, that I can't conceive of doing it again anytime soon.

It doesn't help that I am really, really enjoying having the entire house to myself. I can repaint rooms any color I want, eat plain white rice for dinner, and get up at whatever hour I choose, all without discussing paint chips, worrying that the meal doesn't include a protein, or tiptoeing around to keep from waking someone else up. I can be selfish, and I like it. A lot. I'm sure that at some point I'll fall in love and want the comfort of drifting off to sleep next to the same person every night again, but not now. Right now, I want to be selfish. But I'll muster just enough self-control to make sure I don't go projecting that onto others.

In the meantime - Congratulations K and J!


fortunecookiejunkie said...

You're such a hypocrite. ;)

Amy in Austin said...

I'm glad you're enjoying being selfish!!! It's one of the best things about being single. Plain white rice for dinner sounds perfectly acceptable. :)

Caroline said...

Nice post. Very impressed that you were able to catch yourself, I usually don't and then have to backtrack and apologize blah blah blah.. So you are way ahead of me in the thinking before you speak/type arena. Also - like your reply to previous post, I think you make good points, experience added to advice is only helpful if it is appropriate. Truth. Thanks.

Katherine said...

Caroline, you summed that up very nicely. Erin, I know my face often betrays me, and I try to be aware of that. But if I'm ever out of line and/or make you feel bad, I hope you'll let me know. I'd rather be aware and have the chance to apologize and learn from it than to let you go home from brunch in a foul mood or hurt by something I could have said differently. Or kept to myself.

And enjoy the selfish part. It's awesome.

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