Sometimes in the middle of the utter chaos that is life, the world hands us a fairytale. But are we too focused on finding out how the story ends, how we define “happily ever after,” and how we define our relationships with others that we fail to appreciate the beauty in just being, in appreciating the “knight in shining armor” for who he is, and fail to acknowledge the butterflies?
Forget what you’ve been taught by your mother, the boys in the locker room, and your spiritual leader; forget what you’ve seen in movies. Accept it as fact that Carrie Bradshaw lied. Accept that you just might be the exception to the rule. But most importantly, if you’re going to accept anything at all, believe beyond any shadow of a doubt that the happiness you receive from your relationship cannot be defined. Not by yourself, not by your significant other, and it certainly shouldn’t be defined by anyone else.
I envy the women who grew and loved before me. The women who never had to have a “what are we” talk. The women who loved fearlessly and without consequence. I envy them because not only were definitions of their relationships known, they were not necessary to be defined. In a world where casual sex trumps all, where women are competing with each other instead of supporting each other, relationships have taken a hit. We’ve become a society so focused on labeling what we are and what we’re doing. This happens not necessarily because we need a title or any sort of affirmation of the love and affection we’re already receiving but because society tells us we need it. Where is this going? Are we hooking up, together, dating, friends with benefits, the almost girlfriend?
Today we’ve plagued ourselves with the most complicated of titles including the vaguest of all: relationship-lite and filler girlfriends. These are the types of relationships you have that are not clearly defined, but somehow we’ve felt the need to explain to other people what we’re doing, why we’re loving, and how. Not because of how it effects us, but because of how it effects them. Do you get a plus one on a wedding invitation? Do you turn to this person for career advice? Would it be weird to bring them to a family celebration? If you don’t know what you are and what you’re doing and where it’s going, is any of this socially acceptable?
When you’re in a relationship lite, when you’re a filler girlfriend, when people ask if you’re together and you don’t know how to respond, what does it all mean? These relationships are like any other. You talk, you laugh, you click. You have a fundamental respect for the other person and want what’s best for them. Whether you admit it or not you would sacrifice things you have or need for that person. They’re your shoulder to cry on, your couch (or more appropriately bed) to crash on, they’re you’re person (for the Grey’s Anatomy fans out there). You may kiss, hold hands, and even have sex. But the physical intimacy of your relationship may come and go (and may even normally be induced by a number of cocktails) but is never as strong as the emotional and mental intimacy you share. You watch TV, spend afternoons in pajamas, hangout with each other’s friends and do all the same things normal couples do, but you’re not a couple. You may even love each other, but are you truly committed? Do you need a title to love someone?
I’d like to believe that we place constraints on ourselves when it comes to matters of the heart. That we think that we’re being selfless by protecting others from the baggage we carry with us from relationships past, from trauma with our families, or rigid social and religious doctrines. We tell ourselves and often others that it’s not in their best interest to be fully committed. And so we stay in relationship lite, we accept the role as a filler girlfriend, we seek out individuals who acknowledge and accept beyond anything that could possibly stand in their way that we’re “together but not together,” that it’s complicated and that’s okay.
But it’s not. And the problem isn’t with a lack of definition of the relationship. The problem stems solely from trying to place a label on something that cannot be defined. On a love so consuming that it passes the boundaries of physical infatuation, when this person becomes a person unlike any others in your life. When this person is your person. Instead of trying to define where it may or may not go, whether you will or will not get married, what your sister’s husband’s mother will think of the two of you together, just be. Don’t worry about what you’ve been taught or what you believe. If it’s meant to be it will, but not if you force it away. Nothing good ever came from pushing love out of your life. Because when you do, you not only deprive your almost-significant other of giving you the love you deserve, but you empty yourself to the world. Shutting down is not a form of self-preservation, of self-control, of avoiding the dreaded what is this, where is it going and what will we name our children talk. It’s the most selfish kind of love, the kind of love that can consume you, the kind of love you choose not to define because once you do – you risk being hurt.
But it’s not all bad. This kind of love awakens you to the possibility of there being sincerely good people in the world. People who will listen to you crying on the phone, people who take you to dinner and make fun of the way you eat, people you stare deeply into your eyes in the morning and with one look wipe away any insecurities you once had. And this exists, despite what you choose to call them or not call them. So give yourself a break from the titles, the wondering, the trying to decipher what she means, what he says, what she wants, what you think he wants but he doesn’t know. Don’t worry that you may not be good enough for her, that eventually she may want more than you’re able to give. Just be and let be.