Most days, I feel lucky to be in love. I have found someone I’m extremely attracted to who isn’t afraid to get weird with me and who accepts me in spite of my less awesome qualities. A man who supports me wholeheartedly, and who continues to surprise me in remarkable ways that make my skin tingle and my brain orgasm. A man who’s taken strides in unraveling my individual needs, and who happily endeavors to meet each one. Perhaps most importantly, a man who enjoys tackling the tasks I find abhorrent, like calling Verizon every six months to make sure we’re signed up for the most cost effective phone plan.
If there’s such a thing as a soulmate, I’m one thousand percent certain that this man, whom I’ve been seeing for nearly a decade, is it. We’re a match made in mother-fucking heaven!
Except when we’re not.
The truth is, sustaining a relationship with anyone is difficult, even if that person is “the one” or your “forever person” or whatever you like to call them. Not even the happiest, healthiest relationships are all love notes, impromptu tickle fights, and adorably quirky pet names.
Sometimes, it sucks to be in a relationship with the love of your life. Anyone who refuses to admit that is either a fool, or a liar.
I’m not trying to be a downer. I’m just trying to be real because I’m tired of all the happily-ever-after narratives we feed young people. False expectations will set you up for massive disappointment. So I’m sharing what I’ve learned from being with the same guy (whom I love madly, when he isn’t annoying the fuck out of me) for many (mostly) awesome years to give you an authentic look at what “true love” is really like.
You will not always feel warm and fuzzy towards your significant other. No matter how strong your bond is—no matter how many unforgettable moments you experience together, no matter how many wonderfully kind things you say and do for each other—there will be times when you kind of want to rip each other’s hair out, thread by thread, or maybe even skin each other alive.
Sometimes, you will collapse under the pressure of your job and act like a total asshole and the tension will persist until you get a good night’s sleep and find it within yourself to apologize for your repulsive behavior. Other times, you will annoy the fuck out of each other inadvertently and a beautiful evening will unexpectedly turn to shit within seconds and you will threaten to leave each other because obviously you weren’t meant to be together after all!!! Occasionally, you will hurt each other on purpose, and the sting of nastiness or betrayal will be so painful that you will question why you are doing this to yourself—why you’ve made yourself vulnerable to another human and thus subjected yourself to such agony.
It’s hard to find someone you’re capable of imagining forever with, and even harder to actually do the forever part—year by year, month by month, day by day, and second by second.
Forever means never giving up on someone who’s bound to drive you nuts sometimes. Forever means forgiving someone again and again and again for actions or words that make you recoil with hurt and frustration. Forever means squinting to look past the things you can’t stand in another human and challenging yourself to remember why you love them so damn much. Forever means digging inside yourself regularly and finding the courage to become a better person. Forever means that you never get to stop growing, as an individual or as a couple. Because the second you turn your back on growth—on the sheer will and work it takes to evolve, as people and as partners—your relationship will start to erode.
So what separates the couples that make it from those that split? Persistence. And why do the couples that make it persist? Because they’ve done the math and realized that the upside of being together far outweighs the downside of breaking up. That’s the plain ol’ simple truth. In the darkest moments, throughout the most trying times, you have to trust the double-balance scale inside your heart. It might not sound all that romantic, but the key to lasting love is sticking it out—because you’ve both decided it’s fucking worth it.