Over the course of my romantic adventures I’ve heard a number of platitudes, but none so damaging as, “relationships are work.” Those three words kept me holding onto a handful of relationships that simply were not worth holding onto. All the work I put into them left me exhausted, miserable and feeling like a failure when it ultimately didn’t pay off.
People and the internet at large have strong feelings about men and women who choose not to wear rings despite taking the proverbial plunge. The most common opinion is that married individuals who eschew the band are looking to cheat.
A million years ago I read this article entitled Your Boyfriend is Not Your Friend, and I was livid. At the time, I had just started to date my person, but I was already offended by the idea that I couldn’t consider him a friend. In fact friendship was essentially how our relationship began. As time wore on, I even dared to hope that we would be the bestest of friends throughout our lives. I understand the central thesis of the article was relatively reasonable. You should have friends outside your significant other and you can’t expect to get everything from a single person.
When I got married all of 9 Months ago, people were full of one question. Surprisingly and thankfully it was not “When are the babies coming.” Because that’s annoying, invasive and very well established as not okay. So stop it, mom. The real question everyone kept asking was “is it different?” The short answer: nope not really, but there are a few things that have changed. For me specifically. They may not change for you.
One thing I’ve learned from revitalizing this blog is that some relationship problems ring true from year to year. Couple to couple. Three years ago, I wrote this about my inability to give my boy of the month anything resembling space. In the years since I’ve become much better about this little quirk. Partly because I’ve finally been able to hold down a dude for longer than a year and a half. Partly because I took Big Sister Morgan’s sage advice. Partly, because after nearly 30 years getting set in my individualistic ways, I began to need my own breathing room. Partly because I'm lying to myself and to you.
Among the many not-so-loveable patterns I repeat in my relationships is my desire to spend every spare moment with the snugglebear in my life. Probably because I go so long between snugglebears that I have to squeeze in as much as I can to catch up. I caught myself doing this again with the boy of the moment this past weekend. We had essentially spent the entire weekend together, so he declined my invitation to share a lovely Sunday with me. My instinctual reaction was to get butthurt and conclude that he chose not to spend time with me because he hated me with the fire of a thousand angry suns.
After some serious over-analysis of last night’s—or last week’s (depending on when I post this or when you read this I guess, whatever catch up here)—disaster as per my relentless, neurotic M.O., I’ve realized what a disease my involuntary fantasies can be. You know the ones. You meet a guy and one thing or another leads you to think, “hm he could be kinda great.” And this naturally leads to thoughts of which matching sweater vests you should wear in your Christmas card picture. Even though logically you know it probably won’t get past the first few glasses of wine after you somehow manage to insult his mother, favorite sports team and haircut—in that order. It’s hard to keep your mind from trotting along to some blissful utopian where he is thoughtfully arty, hates watching football and loves doing dishes.
Most of my relationships have been of the long distance variety. In fact, all of my relationships that lasted longer than six months began with the two of us miles apart. Granted the distance was never great enough to prevent us from seeing each other nearly every weekend. For all of the challenges and complications a long distance relationship brings – not being able to see them after a bad day, missing major occasions, losing hours on the road, the cost of travel, etc. – there are some good points.
I don’t know if it’s because we are getting older, but my friends have been exploring what it means to find the one: How it should feel? How do you know? At what point should you know? As with every aspect of love and relationships this topic has been analyzed to death and no one has ever found the answer. That’s because there isn’t one.
Love makes people stupid. Not in the sense that couples often begin using awful nicknames and talk to each other like complete and utter morons. But in the sense that perfectly intelligent human beings make awful decisions about their futures and their overall wellbeing based on a feeling, a connection, a figment of their imagination.