Following the 20th Anniversary of Sex and the City, The Atlantic published a piece reflecting on the relationship Samantha Jones, by far the most sexually open and relationship averse character on the show, has with herself. We follow her journey through six seasons, and two motion pictures, as she navigates a society that continuously judges her life choices. Her sexual promiscuity is probably what she’s best known for; however, her one, long-time relationship with actor, Smith Jerrod, is a close second. In the final film, we find Samantha having a very real and honest conversation with her live-in boyfriend, when she delivers one of the most relatable —at least for me—and raw lines in the series: “I love you, but I love me more. I’ve been in a relationship with myself for 49 years, and that’s the one I need to work on.”
It was in this moment that I found myself relating to Samantha Jones the most. For the last five and a half years, I’ve spent most of my time focusing on one relationship: the one I’m in with myself. After graduating college, I found that I actually had no idea who I really was, what I could truly give of myself to the world, and how to make that happen once I figured it out. I’m still working on it ;). Upon moving back to NYC after graduation, I found myself avoiding the traditions of post-college life in the city, opting instead for Friday nights in (I see you Introverts!), weekends at home, and life sans dating. For me, these choices felt right. As someone who had always been career-focused, I felt strongly that dedicating the most time and effort to that part of my life would help answer the other questions I had about who I was and how I could best give back in a meaningful and impactful way to the world.
However, although I felt strongly about my decision not to date, I spent a lot of time explaining to family and friends why this was the case, and why, instead, I was focused on “dating myself.” For my more traditionally minded friends and relatives, this conversation included more than one confused look and often times ended with an exhortation along the lines of, “you should really put yourself out there.” This always struck me as wildly naïve. I struggled with their lack of understanding that “putting myself out there” without truly knowing who “myself” was felt disingenuous. Anyone I would’ve dated during that time would’ve been dealing with an unsure and sometimes misguided version of “myself.” And, frankly, that didn’t seem fair to them. You see, I needed time to find out more about myself, my strengths and weaknesses (we all have ‘em!) and how to use these as real life tools.
And now, as a young woman working at a company where our mission is to have candid, real and, sometimes, uncomfortable conversations about sex, relationships, periods, and dating, I’ve never felt more empowered to continue destigmatizing these issues, particularly around sex and dating culture. However, as we at Sustain continue our work to bring these issues to light, I worry about the people and communities we haven’t yet reached. In a time when loving yourself can help manage issues with mental health and encourage positive thinking and self-love, my hope is that we will all be a little easier on ourselves, treat each other with more care and understanding, and truly listen to those closest to us. Maybe right now you’re not supposed to be in a relationship with anyone else but yourself, and that’s okay! As Drake says, it's important to “know yourself, know your worth.” 😉
by Carlie Tynan