HitchDied

Pride (In the Name of Love)

| 38 Comments

You’d think I’d embrace anything that tells me I’m doing all right.  But after reading Penelope Trunk’s Blueprint for a Woman’s Life a few weeks ago, I’ve only felt more convinced that I’m failing at life.

Let’s backtrack a bit.  Right around the time Trunk posted her Blueprint, a close friend of mine was at a personal crossroads and I was trying to help her choose her path.  At some point I interrupted my advice-stream with, “but what the hell do I know? I’m 27 and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, I just know I don’t want to be the one thing I’m actually qualified to do. I’m a freaking mess.”

“Well, you’re married. You’ve got a  huge part of your life pretty well sorted out.”

But being married gives me no self-satisfaction.  I don’t mean my marriage isn’t satisfying.  Being married to Collin is wonderful.  What I mean to say is the status of being a Married Woman doesn’t boost my self-esteem.  I don’t think I’ve done right by life just because I found a good man and locked him down.

Trunk’s blueprint argues that because statistics show most women derive most of their life’s joys from their families, women should approach building a family (finding a suitable partner and having children) with the same ambition they do their careers.  [It also says things like "[plastic surgery] is the must-have career tool for the workforce of the new millennium,” which I brush off as Trunk being Trunk, and I realize it’s unfair that I’m giving her a pass that I wouldn’t to most writers. If you’d like to read a well-reasoned feminist response to the piece, try this on for size.]

Well, I certainly succeeded on that front. First, I admitted to myself I wanted to be loved, which was absurdly hard for me to do after many years of very happy singleness.  And sure, I got lucky meeting Collin shortly after that, just like a lot of people get lucky getting their first job.  And just like those people, after I got my foot in the door, I had to work my ass off to keep it there.  I had to learn to trust him. I had to learn to negotiate all the differences in our schedules and social lives and libidos and standards of cleanliness.  I had to get back into the fight against my depression. I had to go to couples counseling.  I had to fight to keep this relationship in all the ways I never wanted to have to fight to keep a law job, and I did it without complaint because I wanted it so, so badly.  I was ambitious in this love.

And as much as this metaphor makes me want to hurl, I approached our “we should get married” conversations the same way you would go about asking your boss for a promotion. And I got it. So why can’t I pat myself on the back?

Is this a knee-jerk response of some ludicrously old-fashioned feminism, worrying I’m doomed to be Betty Draper if I admit being married is a life goal?  Is it a grass-is-always greener situation, is there really something to the sexist narrative that women with awesome careers but crap personal lives [read: romantic comedy protagonists] feel like they’ve got nothing without love, and I’m just in the reverse position?

And how much of it is just fear of loss? If I allow myself any credit for having sorted out my love life, if I admit how valuable that success is to me, then given my particular neuroses, I expect it to swiftly be taken from me.

But as much as I hate thinking about being divorced or widowed, I have a spark inside of myself that knows I could survive it.  I hope I don’t ever have to draw on that particular strength. But maybe I can reapply it.  Maybe I can start thinking about law school as a first husband and let myself move. fucking. on. to the life I really want to be having.  With my actual first husband, who is so much better in bed than being a lawyer ever was.  What? I don’t know.

Married/coupled readers: do you feel proud of being married? Is your relationship one of your life’s accomplishments? Single readers: have I pissed you off too terribly by joining the unrelenting chorus of voices that you’ll never be happy and oh, by-the-by, your ovaries are pruning up more and more every second? Sorry about that.

38 Comments

  1. Getting married isn’t one of my life’s accomplishments. It’s too new. *Being* married, though, and having a fulfilling marriage, will hopefully become one of my life’s accomplishments, the same way that having a fulfilling 5-year relationship that recently transitioned to marriage is something I am very proud of.

    And in certain ways, I treat my aspirations to have a good marriage the same way I treat my aspirations to have a fulfilling career. All too often, we’re encouraged to sacrifice our personal lives for our careers, and to throw ourselves into work. Family dinner? Have to miss it so you can work late. Lunch date? Postponed because of a conference call. I know that I catch myself prioritizing work responsibilities over personal responsibilities frequently, despite the fact that I place (and since I’m a woman, society simultaneously encourages and discourages me in this) a fulfilling personal life high on my list of life’s priorities. Then we all get to have crises of trying to find a work-life balance.

    • Excellent point that women are taught to value marriage/family. I don’t think people who aren’t prioritizing family are screwing themselves if that isn’t their real priority, just because they are a woman. I hate all the “you’ll see” shit that gets flung at women who don’t want children, for example.

  2. So, so many things swirling in my head about this.

    I don’t think of my marriage (first or upcoming) as an accomplishment. But maybe I should. I certainly felt like a failure when my first marriage fell apart, and it takes effort everyday to let go of guilt and stress, even now.

    As for law, you’re not missing anything fabulous. Find some way to turn those analytical and writing skills into a career that will give you what law practice takes away — time to enjoy your life.

    • I think you should definitely consider surviving the end of your first marriage as an accomplishment. Getting through anything as hard as a divorce is an accomplishment.

      And yeah, I went to law school people I thought being a lawyer would be a good way to turn my natural strengths into a steady career. When I realized it would be more like a constant struggle to be and stay employed, it was no longer very appealing to me. I still wish I could have a steady career, but I don’t know if that exists in any field anymore. Maybe I should learn to be a welder.

  3. I am NOT proud of being married. La dee freaking da. Getting married was one of the easiest things I’ve done in my life (BEING married is a whole other kettle of fish, but you can’t have make-up sex with your job, so, still easier).

    Once my future SIL marvelled over my life, saying “Oh, you have a house, you have a car, and now you have a HUSBAND!!” As though my husband was just another acquisition I bought with my tits or god knows what. I can’t get behind that ‘marriage as checkbox to be ticked’ attitude.

  4. I’ve gotten this same message from friends before, after I spent a year desperately looking for work after college, finally found the job of my dreams, and was unceremoniously shitcanned after five months. I would try to articulate how much failure I felt I was carrying around with me, and I would be dismissed out of hand because I was in a five-year relationship (which since then has turned into an engagement). As much as I would like to reject this line of thinking, that a relationship is in itself an accomplishment on par with a successful career, I have to admit that my employment struggle would have been infinitely more impossible without my fiance by my side, relentlessly encouraging me to do what I actually wanted to do. And realizing that I had someone to support me through that time and through every part of my life and career was just as much if not more meaningful than having a job I was proud of.

    • Right? I have no idea how I would be faring with my career ennui without Collin to push me to follow my dreams and tell me I’m ok even if I’m never a lawyer. I think I would probably have taken a crap lawyer job in rural PA and hate my life.

  5. Ok, as the crossroaded friend who made this statement (I assume), I have to say that I don’t think I meant it quite in the sense of an “accomplishment”, per se, at the time. Which is not to say that it was misunderstood or that it’s an invalid interpretation. I think I meant it more in the sense of, like, if I make this decision, it’s good for me and good for my peace of mind, but in the physical and material world I am left to start from zero in most other senses: career-wise, financially, and relationship-wise. This is a gross oversimplification that also makes my life sound worse than it is (my life is largely great; my support system of family and friends is second to none), but the statement didn’t come from a place of being married is something that you’ve DONE. More just of a sense that, you may be making decisions in terms of, say, your career, but you know the home you’re coming home to every day — the emotional home even more than the physical one. Although it’s a constant work in progress for you, the foundation of that part of your life is set.

    That said, I do have tremendous admiration for people who make that kind of commitment, and make it thoughtfully, and although I never thought of it in those terms, I do think it’s an accomplishment you should be proud of. I’ve never been married, but I have always thought that even if the decision to marry is easy and the work itself is easy (which it is for some people), the actual part of SELF that is involved in that kind of commitment is quite impressive. I think this is kind of what you’re touching on here. That kind of commitment requires constant balance of two people, two sets of wants and needs and interests; it requires great selflessness and patience for the other person and, perhaps most difficult of all, the strength and courage to tackle your own insecurities and fears, which you touch on so beautifully here. That is one of the hardest things to do in the world.

    I am obviously all for career success and other like accomplishments; accomplishment in work in particular is a factor in my own self-worth to a degree that I worry about it sometimes. But to brush off the hard work you put into a relationship, and the marriage you have to show for it — I can hardly think of a less feminist sentiment, really. It feeds into the idea that that part of our lives, giving of self, learning to live with someone, working toward common goals, is just something we’re supposed to do as women (or men) and not celebrate it. It’s maybe not something you want to put on a plaque and hang on a mantle, but it’s not an accident, it’s not a prize you won by default. It speaks to your ability to love and to work and see things through difficulties, and that is a glorious personal accomplishment that people should be proud of.

    • I will remind you of something I told you during one of our many Crossroad Conversations: I was thisclose to quitting law school after the first year, and if I did that, I wouldn’t have met Collin. So you don’t KNOW that going back to school is delaying your “real life” but another year.

      But that’s obviously not the first, second, or third reason I think it is ok you’re going back to school. I think you will be able to take a lot of pride in your degree.

      • Oh, I will probably take pride in it. And it may affect my life in many ways. My major reservation now is only that it’s going to affect a life that is going to be, forevermore, overshadowed by crippling debt at all times. But whatevs. OFF-TOPIC!!!

  6. Okay, first of all, my blood is still reading from that piece of dreck that was Penelope Trunk.

    BUT, as to your point? Yes, I absolutely had getting married on my life goal list, just as having kids is an important goal of mine, and I AM proud that I did the emotional work to both find and strengthen a relationship to the point where I feel confident committing to one person for the rest of my life. I think that IS an accomplishment.

    On the other hand, I have lots of life goals, and I would feel terribly limited if getting married and having kids (and then HOMESCHOOLING THEM) were my only options.

    But look to your point about law school, my first career was as an actress and my parents thought I was totally looney tunes and even today my mom will ask me questions like, don’t you regret wasting all that time as an actress? And the truth is, I totally don’t. Not only because it was my passion and I needed to do it and try it and let go of it on my terms, but because it gave me a sense of fearlessness which I notice that a lot of people just don’t have.

    I am now on my THIRD career, and I love it, it is right for me, and I feel successful. But I definitely didn’t have any of that at 27.

    Life is a marathon, and it can be more interesting to explore the less-trodden path. Don’t look at your time in law school as a failed marriage, but just as one turn your life took that gives your life color. Plus, you never know when you are going to use the skills you developed. In my current job, I use skills I gained in college as a theatre major, skills I gained as an actor, skills I gained working in television, skills from blogging, skills from grad school, and skills I gained from being an opinionated beeyotch who writes long comments to people on the internets.

    My point is, well I don’t know what my point is exactly, other than I kind of want to punch Penelope trunk in the face and alternately give you a big hug which is a little weird. And also to say that you are an amazing writer, I love your blog, and I know that it will all work out in the end somehow. From a 32 year old to a 27 year old (and those 5 years make a big difference) I promise you.

    • One thing that makes it harder for me to just put law school into a “charming diversion” box is that I left my siblings a year after our parents had died in order to go to it. I gave something huge up: being there on a daily basis for my family. I wish I had more to show for it.

  7. Wow Robin, I really feel you on this. And as un feminist as this is going to sound, I feel like this in part because I moved to the country where the boy (my husband now) already had a permanent job, when I was just about to start, and as it turns out, for me the chances of developing any kind of career in a field I feel passionately about (so much as thinking of it defining me, which in a way is also lame, but I am working at letting myself know that I am so much more things than just what a profession defines you as) are near 0. Anyway, I have thought about it and with the whole what being a woman implies, how it is possible but super hard to have EVERYTHING, I reached the conclusion that if I ever HAD to choose then my family would come first, and I am extremely happy to be married. Not saying that is an accomplishment in life because as much as like you describe so well you have to work and put all your being to keep the relationship going , I think it is just a matter of luck/chance to happen to meet someone you can love, it is not something you can control like you would think from reading Trunk. Funny I also wrote about her today, before I came here. (Maybe I will link you in my post as well). Anyway I think in a way, because of different circumstances we are in similar situations, so if you want you can read what I wrote about it, to put my thoughts in order, just come over to my little blog and read what I wrote under Career / where I rant. Also , for the career change I would say go for it with all your might. It is doable and it will make for you being lots happier, -i had a first degree which turned out not to be so useful, as in, it was very hard to apply it in real life, and then I started a whole new study (5 year and hard study) at age 25 and I don’t regret it because I love it even if know it just happens to be that I can not work in that field… oh life.
    Anyway, all the support, and please, don’t feel a failure. YOu just have to figure out what you really want, and take baby steps towards it, and consider yourself lucky for being so loved by Collin and for how far you’ve come in this relationship, because overcoming obstacles, that is an accomplishment,

    • We’re also going to be moving for Collin’s career soon… probably very, very far away to a life-changing place. Sorry to be vague, but that is undeniably influencing this post, so it is interesting your experiences along those lines resonated reading it.

  8. LOVED this post.
    I’m not married yet… but I will be in 99 days. Holy crap, double digits!
    I don’t think finding the person that I want to marry is an achievement- that was dumb luck. I got really, really lucky.
    BUT being the kind of person that was able to begin a relationship with him and keep that relationship healthy and happy enough that we decided to get married- THAT I am proud of.
    If I use your career analogy, I changed “degrees” a few times before I found the one that was right for me. And those previous degrees were an arse-load of work, a complete mind-f*ck for the most part, and the wrong fit for me. And surviving those, and learning what I needed to from them, and coming out the other end as someone who was still open to finding the right path for me, was an achievement too.
    Um, did that make sense? It did in my head.
    Getting married and building a life with someone has always been something that I’ve wanted. In the long term, I couldn’t have felt fulfilled without it. I’ll admit that. Having said that, I’m also pretty ambitious career-wise.

  9. I struggle with this too. I do not want to be a woman who feels that because she is married, she has succeeded. I find that insulting to my single and successful friends, and I find it arrogant. However, I am proud of my relationship, and it is a thing that I will continue to work hard for and constantly try to better; so in that respect I think it is something that I consider an achievement, because it is something that will make me feel fulfilled. Would I have felt fulfilled had I not decided to marry J? What if I had started my own business and travelled the world? Perhaps that would be equally as fulfilling.

    • Yes! Absolutely! I want there to be some way to be like, “I’m married, good for me!” without simultaneously saying, “Oh, you’re not married? How SAD FOR YOU.” Because that is crap.

      • That’s the part of this conversation that’s hard for me. I’m in my last semester of grad school and I have a job waiting for me – pretty much the exact job I wanted when I went back to school for a new career 2 years ago. It was partially luck and partially hard work and partially being the best fit. I am damn proud to have that job. And I think it’s exactly the same for my marriage (for me). I don’t feel that being proud of being married is looking down on single people. I was really proud of being single when I was and I’m proud of being married now. It’s something that I wanted and I have it. I don’t want to feel like a feminist sellout for being proud of it.

  10. This really resonated with me too… I’m in a pretty brainy job which I sometimes love and sometimes want to run the hell away from. And though it was a twisty turny path to get here, I can see in some ways how all the jobs I’ve had before have led directly or indirectly to where I am now.

    I’m also newly married (ish, like a year and a half) and I can see how all the relationships before (maybe not ‘failed,’ but ended) directly and indirectly led me to the one that I’m in now.

    Do I feel incredible pride at times with both of these areas of my life – hell yes? Do I worry constantly about whether I’m ‘doing the right thing’ to maintain, advance, improve, care for (etc) both of them? also yes.

    And do I derive happiness, a sense of well-being and joy from both of them? truth be told, probably not. My job can make me happy but it rarely (if ever) makes me joyful.

    • I think in life there are things that make you happy, and things you do to make it possible to do the things that make you happy, which indirectly make you happy. Sorry, too many “make you happy”s in that comment. But you feel me?

      • totally. and there’s all these self-definitional things you have to do in order to feel allowed to be happy too… like (and this is just for me, no one else) I know that unless I can say that I’m a) doing something that feels productive to do good-ish things in the world and b) uses my brain, I’m not going to actually feel good about things. Even if actually doing those two things hurts and feels yucky some of the time. The weird thing is, I never let myself feel that about being in a relationship, because I was so into being feminist and single. So never let myself say if I’m not open to being partners with someone I can’t be happy – even though in retrospect it was actually true. That’s muddled but maybe people get it anyways…

  11. Weirdly enough, getting married wasn’t a life accomplishment. WAITING to get married was, because everyone in my town and family got married at 18, and I wanted none of that.

    I feel like using marriage as a life goal is scary for me and future generations, but I also see merit in counting the work done on self to get there (and using wedding planning as proof you’re organized and awesome!).

  12. That Penelope Trunk advice makes me want to scream. It’s not that I think she doesn’t have (a few) valid points, but really, life just doesn’t work in that neat, orderly, blueprint fashion. And even if it were possible to live your life checking things off a list, with nothing throwing your plans off track (ha!) … I wouldn’t want to. I really don’t believe it guarantees happiness. Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we get it; sometimes what we think we want isn’t what we need; sometimes we realize we want something 180 degrees opposite from what we wrote down on our ‘to do’ list. And sometimes we have to wade through unexpected sh*t life throws at us. To think we have so much control… I partially envy that mindset, but it just seems to simplistic to me and… closed off.

    But moving on…

    I tend not to see my relationship as an achievement. Mostly for 2 reasons:

    1) Being in a long-term, committed relationship was never a goal of mine (ditto to marriage and kids).

    2) I feel like I… “lucked into” this marriage, more than anything. Maybe I do myself (and B) and disservice to downplay whatever effort brought us here… but *it doesn’t feel like work*. Not the way grad school felt like work. Not the way job hunting and trying to market myself feels like work. So it seems weird to define getting married a “success” or to credit myself too much for this happiness… esp. since it wasn’t a goal. Also: if something is considered to be an accomplishment, doesn’t that assume it’s finished/achieved? To me, marriage was definitely not a finishing line (now the wedding– yes, in my mind, that is an accomplishment, same as throwing any other giant party).

    For some reason, all this is reminding me of Dan Savage’s *The Commitment*, when he talks about how society usually defines a “successful marriage” as one that lasted until one partner died… that’s it. Doesn’t matter how miserable they were.

    I will say… my mom and sister, both of whom have dealt with pretty sh*tty relationships recently, keep saying “yes, but you ARE happily married” when I complain about not finding work. And maybe I shouldn’t discount that so quickly. You’re right: in some ways, it is kinda the reverse of RomCom Heroines who take their high-flying careers for granted, because they don’t have a husband.

    I don’t think mine’s just “fear of loss” so much as “fear of hubris which will then lead to loss.” I don’t want to get cocky, to think we have it all figured out.

    Okay, I feel like I’m totally rambling here. I wish I could have this convo in person! it’s a meaty topic, and one I’d like to discuss more.

    • This might be why Penelope Trunk’s blueprint reads as simplistic and closed off. Like she says in that post, she uses the skills she’s developed to navigate life with Asperger’s to give advice: “the reason I’m good at giving career advice is because I had to learn things systematically, which helps me break it down for everyone else.” A lot of her advice (particularly about blogging and writing) really is excellent.

      Anyway, I guess I should clarify I’m not just trying to take pride in being married, but being happily married.

      • I think that’s a big part of my issue w/Trunk’s advice (and Betty Draper et al.): the “start looking for a husband” seems like a vehicle to achieve kids or perhaps status, but nothing more. Happy doesn’t seem to factor into the equation (or perhaps it’s presumed–but I would question that line of thinking).

  13. @AnnieD: “it’s not an accident, it’s not a prize you won by default. It speaks to your ability to love and to work and see things through difficulties, and that is a glorious personal accomplishment that people should be proud of.”

    I think this is what my mom and sister are trying to communicate to me… and when I think about it that way, it does make sense.

    But still… I feel so squeamish about using the word pride! I think I have some effed up personal issues around that. I don’t know why I feel weird about taking pride in my ability to love or to work through hard times… maybe because I feel like it suggests people who are single, or are divorced, “failed” at these things?? I don’t know.

    But if people take pride in their kids, or their house, or their amazing career… I don’t feel like that diminishes my lack of those things. Huh. Something to think about.

    • Yes, I immediately thought, “Well Collin should be proud that he’s getting his PhD, but that doesn’t mean I’m a failure for not getting a PhD.” Even if I had tried to get one and couldn’t.

      • No, because that was a goal of his, but not one for you. It’s a very personal thing.

        In the simplest sense, if I had (or do) quit school, yes, by simple fact, I have failed at getting that degree. But if I get to that point, believe me, I won’t have any regrets about it. Failure to complete something isn’t always bad.

  14. I bristle at the thought of viewing getting married as a goal, because I feel that women are encouraged to view their weddings as an end-goal… the nuances in the differences between a goal/end goal often get lost just as the nuances between getting married and marriage often get lost. No one’s end goal should be a wedding, things don’t just stop there.

    My wedding was not a prize that my guy begrudgingly bestowed upon me for sticking through years of a relationship. Our wedding was a celebration of the 8 years of work we put into our relationship to build it into something that could become (with more continued work) a happy and healthy marriage. Many people have this without ever having a wedding, without ever being allowed a wedding, and that’s important to remember. Personally, getting married was never a goal for me – but being in a happy marriage is. The piece of paper telling me that ours is a legal union gives me no warm and fuzzy feeling; it’s not going to cuddle me in the middle of the night or tell me I’m beautiful when I’ve been stuck in the rain and feel like a drowned rat.

    I know I’m just arguing semantics here, and maybe even beating a dead horse, but I feel the distinction is important. I’ve known a lot of women who get a, “OK, married. Done. Now what?” feeling after their weddings, and it’s understandable to a degree… but it comes from a place where no one prepared them for the work ahead. And maybe if we stopped trying to sell weddings as a goal or a fairy-tale, couples would be better equipped to meet their futures as a married team of awesomeness rather than thinking happily ever after is a right bestowed upon all newly married duos. It’s a lovely dream to buy into but it’s not doing anyone any justice.

  15. I am with you on the “expecting it to be swiftly taken” thing. I am forever taking pains not to jinx myself, and since my parents had a thirteen-year marriage before calling it quits, I know more than most that engaged doesn’t make you safe, married doesn’t make you safe, surviving the “Seven-Year Itch” (gag) doesn’t make you safe, and being married a decade doesn’t make you safe. So I am constantly trying to peek around corners, and it doesn’t work.

    I LOVE the metaphor about career as first husband – I think as feminist, modern women, it can be really hard to admit that maybe something you thought you wanted ten or twenty years ago isn’t right for you now. Maybe careers in the modern era are more like hermit crab shells or skins on a snake – maybe we outgrow things in the working world just as we outgrow other things, regardless of the masses of time, money, and energy we put in to participate in a chosen field.

  16. One of my life goals was to love myself and open my heart to a life partner. When I found and married that partner that goal was achieved. I consider it an accomplishment.

  17. I do not consider being married an accomplishment. I do, however, consider having a loving relationship and sharing my life with someone an accomplishment. It just has nothing to do with whether or not we made it legal.

  18. Whoa. I tend to be a pretty anti-enemies life and let live kinda person, but Penelope Trunk telling me to get plastic surgery and go to business school makes me want to rethink that. Is it time to get a nemesis? Maybe so.

    I think my life could eat her life advice for breakfast and enjoy cleaning up afterwards without paid help.

    In terms of pride and my marriage, I am proud but not just because I’m happily married. What makes me proud is how my Tall One and I negotiate our wants and needs and treat each other and how happy this continues to make us. Subverting cookie-cutter ideas of relationships on a daily basis puts a little spring in my step regularly. This relationship is an unfinished (and hopefully never finished) accomplishment but not because it specifically a marriage, but because it is supportive and happy and lovey and silly and strong and good.

  19. Love songs have a way of capturing the heart and soul of our emotions to deliver great tunes that can only celebrate the reality of love. It is pretty exciting to go through the various love songs written and, it is through the collections that we are able to discover and judge some of the greatest love songs ever written. Endless love lyrics are some of the greatest words of love ever written and sang. The song was done by an all time singing sensation Diana Ross and the veteran king of smooth music Lionel Ritchie. The two came together to perform the best lyrics that describe great endless love. Their duet continues to captivate massive audiences all around the world. Endless love lyrics are some of the most sought after and, you can easily find them on the Internet. For all those who are in love, these are the lyrics that have been observed to bring down the roofs of buildings as lovers declare their undying affection; the following are endless love lyrics. celine handbags People still wear the polo shirt in an athletic environment. It appears on golf courses and on tennis courts. Polo players sport them in their matches. They add a touch of class to a skirt, jodhpurs, shorts or pants. Yet, today, the polo shirt appears on the backs of people performing their day-to-day and mundane tasks. Its adaptability, however, allows it to become part of their social and semi-professional daily obligations. Suburban moms can wear it to do practical things then move onto social affairs. Designers such as Leon Levin are able to tailor their polo shirts to active women for use on the coarse or at home.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.