It was several months  ago when I tripped and  face-planted into the  most confusing “it’s  complicated” relationship  I’ve ever been in.

Practically  overnight  I realized  a marked  change  in myself,  particularly  in the  content  of my  conversations. Nearly every  conversation I had veered to  him — whether that meant  I was cursing his name or  singing his praises.

One  way or another, he was the  foremost thing I talked about.  It didn’t take long for me to  start feeling sorry for all my  friends who had to listen to  this, and it took even less time  for me to be angry at myself  for having nothing better to  talk about than a silly boy.

At first I was consoled  because I realized that other  girls’ conversations revolved  around much the same thing.  When I passed two girls on  campus, I overheard one of  them lamenting what went  wrong with her ex.

While  drinking a cup of coffee,  I listened to one woman  give another advice on her  marriage.   It seemed I was far from  the only heterosexual female  who just couldn’t stop talking  about the man in her life.

But, just as quickly as I was  comforted, I was appalled.  I  found it almost horrifying  that my generation of smart,  educated, independent  women was still abiding  by the old adage that “girls  only talk about boys.”

What  about our careers? What  about our ambitions? What  about our hobbies? Why,  after everything feminism  has fought for, are we still  so blatantly fulfilling the  feminine stereotype?  After careful research — in  the form of obsessive  eavesdropping — I realized  I’d actually made a mistake:  The key factor in women’s  conversations wasn’t so much  men as it was relationships.

And for us hetero women,  the men in our lives tend to  constitute hugely important  relationships — not because  they are men, but because  they are our romantic  relationships.

People who  are important deserve to be  talked about a great deal, as  those are the people we are  doing life with — or without,  in some cases.  The more I listened,  the more I realized that  women also talk about their  friendships, their familial  relationships, their work  relationships, all their  relationships, really.

And I  realized it wasn’t just limited  to women.  Men also talk  about relationships a shit ton;  media and history just hasn’t  stereotyped them for it the  way it has stereotyped us.  So, what does this mean  then?

Should we force ourselves to stop talking so much  about men just to prove we  are more than the men in our  lives? The ideological feminist  in me wants to say “yes,” but  the human being in me says  “hell no.”   I hate gender roles. I hate  what they do to a society  and to people’s freedoms.

However, I realized that by  putting such emphasis on  not being a stereotype I was  doing myself a disservice.  If I want to talk about my  ridiculously complicated  relationships, then I should  be able to.

I shouldn’t forbid  myself certain topics just  because I’m a girl and I don’t  want people to think I’m the  stereotype.  The point of breaking down  stereotypes is to destroy  them.

When we become so  adamant about breaking  a stereotype that we insist  on being the total opposite  in every aspect, all we do  is create a new stereotype.  In this case, the feminist  stereotype: the woman who  always stands up for women’s  rights and refuses to adhere  to female gender norms.

Yet, nothing is solved  by simply creating a new  stereotype to adhere to. Real  freedom from gender roles  comes when we decide to just  be whoever the hell we want  to be.

If who we want to be  happens to overlay in some  areas with an established  stereotype, then so be it.  If our relationships are  important to us, then let’s  talk about them.

Go ahead,  be cliché in some ways and  revolutionary in others, if  that’s what makes your life  fulfilling. Shock people by  being both the stereotype  and not the stereotype to  the point that the stereotype  cannot even exist anymore.

Talk about what you want to  talk about and be who you  want because that’s who you  want to be — not because of  anything else.

Lora Massey studies linguistics  and Asian studies. She can be  reached at