Straight Couples Are Nauseating

Eds. Note: Please welcome Salaam, Love anthology contributor and’s newest writer Ramy Eletreby with his column 99 Names (and Queer is One)

Ramy Eletreby

Ramy Eletreby

I have a confession to make: I LOVE being single.

I really do. This is not some mantra I repeat to convince myself. I really, really love it.

That is my unadulterated truth, and I am swimming in it. Take a picture.

Many of my friends, usually the straight ones, ask me if I’m dating anyone and when I’m going to settle down.

My response is, “Why do you want to condemn me to that life sentence?”

That shuts them up, for a little while. I’m a constant reminder that people need to check their assumptions. We do not all desire to be in relationships.

Some of us have been enlightened. Some of us recognize ourselves as being enough.

Clearly, I’m a bit of a cynic. I never quite understood the appeal of being attached to someone.

I’m that proverbial free bird who cannot stand the idea of being caged in. A ball and chain would just weigh me down.

There’s this reality of relationships that I can never quite digest. I’ve seen it amongst my friends. The fact that they must constantly check in with each other about every little thing they’re up to. That sounds miserable.

Leaving work now.

Walking to lunch.

Waiting for my sandwich.

Taking a piss.

…Did you finish pissing yet?

Why do people willingly sign up for this nightmarish codependency? The short leashes I see partners carry with each other always puzzle me. Their roads all seem to be paved with eggshells on the way to jealousy and possessiveness.

For years, I’ve scoffed at them. I’ve likened their relationships to punching a time card. Every move is docked and calculated and will eventually be used against you in a court of relationship law.

I find couples to be quite nauseating.

To the young straight couple sitting in front of me on my flight last week from NYC to LA, did you really need to smooch on each other that much? Every two minutes? What was coming up for you as those non-kissy minutes passed? Were they excruciating? Anxiety filled? Did you start to feel unsafe? Was the touch of each other’s lips the only thing that could calm you down?

Try a Xanax next time. It works wonders. It also comes with less baggage.

Some people might say I’m being a hater. They might say my strong reaction to seeing couples being “so cute” (gag) in their couplehood is just my poorly veiled jealousy.

It’s not jealousy I carry. It’s resentment. Sprinkled with disgust.

I resent couples. Straight couples, specifically. They have it so easy, don’t they?

They get to smooch on airplanes without a care in the world. They don’t have to think about being monitored and judged (well, I guess I judge them) and fetishized and tokenized. They don’t have to watch their backs because their security is at risk. They don’t have to worry about feeling threatened by people’s bodies and by their words. Their love doesn’t make them feel unsafe.

I know every relationship has its challenges. Every partnership, whether straight or queer, has to navigate through politics around gender and race and class. I understand that straight couples may feel the weight of certain societal pressures and cultural norms, but they still have it easier. Yes, straight couples have it easier. They tend to have a larger network of support around them to help work through their challenges. They don’t have to navigate through largely unfamiliar territory the same way queer people do. Queer couples may have their friends and allies, but there are few systems in place to support queer people in their relationships.

Since we live in a society that is predominately patriarchal and heteronormative, straight couples walk with the privilege of never being questioned. They don’t have to be confronted with their counter-normative identities on a daily basis. They don’t have to respond to people’s probing questions and presumptive comments about their gender roles. They don’t have to keep defending their right to exist.

As a queer man, where are my models of loving partnerships?

Straight people have millennia of love stories to draw upon. They have their own parents as a model. Though they may not all be models of success, they are still models. What can I draw from?

In my experience, relationships built upon love, with one romantic interlude after another, only seem to happen to straight people, if at all. They also mostly seem to only happen in fairytales.

I’m pretty sure the dish and the spoon were not real and they sure as hell did not run away together.

I actually find my cynicism quite tiresome.

Sometimes I imagine Cher slapping me and yelling, “Snap out of it!”

The struggle is real.


It has been about five years since my last meaningful relationship, and that disintegrated so quickly and thoroughly that I haven’t looked back since.

So yes, I’ve had my heart broken before. Multiple times. I know that happens. The broken hearts’ club membership is large and grows every day.

What I don’t understand is how people, with broken hearts still in tow, jump into new relationships! Are they masochists? Aren’t their hearts too fragile, too bruised, for such reckless behavior?

My heart is not so resilient. It does not have nine lives. It does not land on its feet every time.

Speaking of cats, I find it much easier to be in relationship with them. I have two at home. Mimi and Rocco. They are the BEST.

Yep, I am single and HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!! (Do I protest too much?)

Here’s the thing: I’m ready to be less jaded.

This color I’ve been wearing is starting to wear on me. It’s about time I try on something new.

I used to pride myself on my self-sufficiency. I have handled moving, sickness, and death all on my own with no one at home to dry my tears, or massage my feet, or lie down beside me to make me feel less alone.

My loneliness, er, I mean independence, was like a badge of honor.

“See how I don’t need anyone? Gold medal for me!”

But self-sufficiency is a double-edged sword. After a while, it turns into self-centeredness.

I have truly forgotten what it means to consider others. Since all I ever need to concern myself with is my own well-being, I am no longer able to take care of others. I am no longer able to give.

This has started affecting my other relationships, especially with kids like my nephews and my niece. I no longer have the patience to be generous and nurturing with them. I get annoyed with them quickly, and they tend to view me as a grouch. Ouch.

I have come to a realization, which pains me to share: I think I’m ready to return to love and relationships.

I can hardly believe it, either.

I’m ready to grow. I’m ready to be thrown outside of my cozy zone with my kitties.

I’m ready to be challenged. I’m ready to take risks.

I guess that means I’m ready to be hurt again too.

Most of all, I’m ready to be open and be surprised by what Allah has in store for me.

Half of my friends reading this are giving me the side-eye right now. The other half just fell off their chairs and are applauding and squealing with delight.

Read more by Ramy, here.

Ramy Eletreby is a queer Afro-Arab American artist based in Los Angeles, California. He writes, performs, and facilitates theater projects with diverse communities all across the country. His story The Ride was featured in Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy, the acclaimed follow-up to the groundbreaking Love, Inshallah; The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women. He is currently developing a solo show and hopes to premiere it in Winter 2016. Connect with him on Twitter: @dramarams

2 Comments on “Straight Couples Are Nauseating”

  1. jessy fdes says:

    wow … are amazing just alike me..all these time i was putting myself a very unique person .huh finally by chance i reached upon your article here which made me remind of my past relationships and how i cope with them all myself alone.people say at my home i love my cats more then them as i fancy talk more with them. i am proud of you for keeping yourself out of love and relationships. i like these verse of yours” Most of all, I’m ready to be open and be surprised by what Allah has in store for me.” same i denote myself with Jesus. i wish you Cheerful life ahead.

  2. chowbaby111 says:

    This is an amazing story, I totally agree, I love being single as well. My last real relationship was 5 years ago. who needs someone around all the time. I wrote on my blog about being alone does not mean Im loely. check it out.