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Touching or Tacky?: Encounters With Couples June 5, 2009

Posted by Onely in As If!, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, Your Responses Requested!.
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On my trip to Michigan last week I was sorely tested by the gods of heteronormativity. They tried to tempt me into bopping three separate couples on the heads. Because doing so would have only reinforced the stereotype that Onelers are bitter couple-hating fiends, I did not bop the annoying pairs. But Copious Readers, judge for yourselves whether these three couples were Touching or Tacky:

If you’re single, what sorts of Annoying Couple Behaviors make you feel relieved to not “be like that”? If you’re coupled, what kinds of Couple Faux-Pas do you observe and think “oh geez, we better be careful not to be like that”?

Separately, what  couple behaviors have you seen that *are* truly touching? Can those be applied to other kinds of relationships as well?



1. Lauri - June 5, 2009

Oh my god, that last one with the wedding fund tip jar almost made me ring my monitor’s neck (but then I remembered that my monitor is just the messenger).

2 things to add: 1) coworkers who MUST tell their wife/husband that they love them multiple times on every single phone call, even when it’s a 2 minute call about whether the plumber can fix the toilet. 2) people who walk down the narrow side in crowded cities during rush hour and will not, under any circumstances, let go of each others’ hand. There could be firemen trying to get through the crowd to save a little old woman from a burning building, and these people would not let them through.

2. autonomous - June 5, 2009

My biggest peeve: people who CONSTANTLY refer to their spouse by MY HUSBAND or My Wife (it’s usually women though who do this).
Never mind that The Husband is my-step dad, or brother-in-law, or someone I know perfectly well by name. It’s completely creepy and annoying and I just want to slap some self-respect into these people.

Lauri - June 5, 2009

or “we” when you have no real reason to assume who “we” means.

this one reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where the woman at the party kept saying, “have you seen my fiance? I seem to have lost my fiance!”

onely - June 5, 2009

OH, that IS wierd. I don’t know that I have ever experienced that. But that is definitely really strange to me.

Rachel - June 7, 2009

A co-worker of mine recently married the woman he cohabited with for years. He used to refer to her by her first name. Now all the sudden, he refers to her as “my wife.” Too bad that I hadn’t read Jaclyn Geller’s “Here Comes the Bride” early enough – it would’ve made a good wedding gift. Hehehe.

3. Amanda - June 5, 2009

Definitely agree with Post #2–my sister does this, even though I’ve known my brother-in-law since collge. He has a name! I know she doesn’t mean it, but it’s almost like she throws it in my face. “I miss my HUUUSBAAAND.” Gah!

In this vein–people who won’t stop posting about their wedding or spouses/fiancees/boyfriends on Facebook. I know a girl from high school whose status updates have basically been for the past 3 months: “____________ can’t wait for the wedding.”, “____________ loves her fiancee.”, “_________ is on her honeymoon, she’s so happy.” “_________ loves her husband, he’s wonderful.” Not to rag on her happiness, it HAS only been a few weeks since they’ve married, but is this all that’s going on in your life?

autonomous - June 5, 2009

I sometimes wonder if the people who do this are trying to reassure themselves of their relationship status and yes, it does feel like a neener-neener. I’ve also noticed that the women who don’t do this have really healthy self-esteem & relationships in contrast with the women who do. The relationship defines the ones who refer to everyone by their relationship, which is exactly what you reference in the second half of your post.

onely - June 5, 2009

We all need to use neener-neener as a noun more often. = )

onely - June 5, 2009

If she were my sister or friend, I would be worried that she wasn’t happy and was trying to compensate by acting over-happy. I hate to levy this judgment on someone I don’t know at all (especially when it’s a judgment often made against happy single people), but this blog is 50 percent mine so I guess I can be judgmental. So, yes, I would be worried about her.

onely - June 5, 2009

oh, hi autonomous, I just saw that you made a similar point to mine. I didn’t see you up there for a second. Agreed on all counts.

autonomous - June 9, 2009

Thanks CC- I am working on non-judgment as well, but this is observation of behavior and results over time. Have definitely worried about the women in my life who do this over-compensation thing. Several years ago I brought up my observation of the “husband without a name thing” to one of the repeat users and was quite razzed for it when she shared it with another woman who did this. Both assumed I was unhappy being single and couldn’t be happy for them.

onely - June 9, 2009


Separately, I was thinking of how sometimes I’ll say to people “my sister this or that”, even though they know her. Yet somehow that does NOT seem as wierd.

4. Alan - June 6, 2009

Reminds me of something a friend of mine saw…

He and a friend met a couple at a restaurant. Due to the seating arrangements, the couple was unable to sit next to each other. So they held hands across the table for the duration of the meal, smiling at each other.

Oddly enough, they broke up a few months later…

5. trauma queen - June 8, 2009

about the airplane couple – my first thought would be that they are going to be away fro each for a long time or something and really want to spend some time together. This happens a lot with busy exec couples.

I like the reactions here..but aren’t we all being a tad bit mean? I mean are’nt we also generalising? what if each of these ‘tacky’ stories had some deep emotional thing attached to it..i know it cannot be the case all the time…but isn’t it better to just ignore it than get so affected by it? To each his own!

Lauri - June 9, 2009

I don’t think we are generalizing- I definitely didn’t mean to imply that all couples do the things I was complaining about. In fact, I don’t think many couples do these things at all.

onely - June 9, 2009

Oh, I make a career of being bothered by things when I travel. I am a seriously cranky traveller and want everyone to follow My Rules while they are in transit. But for some reason they DON’T!!!

6. Nicole - June 8, 2009

so i’m married, and i actually find most of this stuff annoying too. and i also appreciate lists like this since i’ve been married for 8 years and want to make sure i’m not falling into annoying-to-others patterns.

i agree that just b/c i’m married that doesn’t mean that is all there is to me, and although i’ll admit i might ask to sit next to eric on a plane (yes, he has a name!), the other stuff does seem a bit over the top. and i do often wonder if folks are playing it up when the relationship is actually not all that solid. i do give some leeway to newleyweds b/c i’ve been there and i think a little schmoochiness is all right, but for the most part, just try to be considerate of others.

onely - June 9, 2009

Hi Nicole, I kind of doubt that you would insist on sitting next to Eric for an hour flight, though. (If you’re travelling with kids, then maybe, but these people weren’t.)
= ) CC

7. Singletude - June 9, 2009

I just generally hate PDA. Especially when you can’t get away from it. Not that long ago, I was on the subway sharing a pole with a young couple. Those two must’ve kissed once every 20 seconds for the duration of the trip! They were less than 12 inches away from my face! It was horrible! And at the time I was in a relationship myself, so I guarantee you it was NOT “sour grapes.”

What do I think is touching? Old couples who still hold hands after so many years together.

8. Singlutionary - June 11, 2009

We should feel sorry for people who act like this! They are totally self absorbed and don’t have anything better to do than think about their spouse 20x per minute. They are not living in the moment.

And we are all way better than them!

But yeah. The whole having to consult the spouse about every little decision or assuming that the spouse is automatically invited to everything. Those are my pet peeves.

My married friends have been married too long to do this anymore but it used to go like this:

“Hey. You wanna go to a movie tomorrow?”
“Well. I have to wait until Husband gets home. I need to feed him dinner and then I need to ask him what his plans are for the rest of the week.”

A more appropriate version:
“Hey. You wanna go to a movie tomorrow?”
“Yeah but I need to check and make sure I’m not overbooking myself. In the back of my mind, I might have told Todd that I would do something with him. I’ll call you back.”

I think it’s all about tone and attitude. Like if the couple was racing each other up the escallators, that might have been entertaining.

9. Joan Price - June 21, 2009

I was single for decades, and I often had the “bully for you, you’re in love, go get a room!” reaction to seeing couples kissing.

Then I was in love for seven years, and we couldn’t get enough of each other. We held hands, we kissed, we walked arm-in-arm, we laughed at private jokes. (FYI, we fell in love when he was 64 and I was 57.) Maybe we annoyed you. I apologize if we did, but we knew he had cancer and we didn’t know how much time we had together.

Then he died.

After I lost him, every time I saw couples embracing, I would think — and sometimes say aloud to them — “Treasure each other.”

Now I am “onely” and learning how to find joy on my own as I emerge from almost a year of grieving. Yes, I miss Robert, but I am not lonely, because I have a full life.

onely - June 21, 2009

Thanks for the comment, Joan. I doubt you and your partner would have annoyed “us” unless the expressions of your affection inconvenienced or assumed higher importance over others, especially single people. Laughing at private jokes and walking arm-in-arm doesn’t sound like annoying behavior (unless you shoved single people out of your way on the sidewalk or something!) — the examples that Christina posted above, however, seem to us to belong in the “annoying” category. 🙂

At any rate, I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your partner — something neither Christina nor I have experienced ourselves — but am glad to hear that you continue to live in what sounds like the best sense!

— Lisa

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