Relationships are glorified. From the moment we’re born into this society, every childhood movie, every TV show, every ad has romanticized relationships as something easy and beautiful and life changing. When you meet your soulmate, there’s no work you need to put into the relationship or into yourself because the sparks fly and your love automatically overcomes every obstacle and it’s all perfect.
As a young woman, I’ve noticed that both I and many of the people around me have bought into this notion. We chase relationships endlessly because they’re supposed to bring us a semblance of life-altering joy that can’t be found by ourselves any other way. We expect the search to be hard — which is why we’re willing to persevere — but once we find that magical connection with the right person, the work is done.
This is the mentality that causes relationships to fall apart. In the words of Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne, just before her relationship with Nick falls apart: “We were happy pretending to be other people. We were the happiest couple we knew.” Marriages fail because once the fight is over to find your soulmate, once you’re together with them, the expectation of true love to naturally click into place without effort falls in.
I’ve always believed that love is equally a choice and not — the initial connection isn’t something you can necessarily control, but you can choose to remember what made you fall in love with the person when you’re going through a rough patch. You can appreciate the things they do for you that may normally go overlooked. You can choose to present the best version of yourself to them — one that is patient and understanding, creating the best environment for love to thrive.
I write this as I’m in the middle of a break with my girlfriend. It was my choice, and I think we both have many aspects of ourselves to work on that will help our relationship continue to grow. But I’m not going to stop fighting for her, because I believe that she’s the right person. In this case, fighting for us takes the form of a break, where we can both reflect on whether we share the same vision for the next two, five, 10 years.
Many aspects of our relationship has never been easy, but there are so many facets of her personality and our relationship that I truly believe I could not find with another person — her honesty in the face of criticism, her unwillingness to be mean to others, and a gut feeling I have that she would never, ever do anything to hurt me or jeopardize our relationship, not even accidentally. I harbor no illusions about the “immortality” of our relationship, but I know that I’ll keep fighting for our future as long as she’s willing to accept it.