“1. We’re best friends…and that’s it”
Ideally your significant other should be your best friend. I’ve never understood people who think otherwise. That being said, you still need to have passion for each other. You still need to want to fuck them on a moment’s notice. I can’t speak to what it feels like to be married for thirty years—I fear that most couples do just become BFF at that point and not much more—but in the beginning of a relationship, the love should feel like drugs. You should be drinking each other up like a potion. Of course, passion isn’t an easy thing to maintain. It can be there one day and gone the next, never to return. And when that happens, when you find yourself dating someone for a year and it already feeling like a decade, you’re probably going to break up. The unofficial reason? You don’t really want to have sex with them. They’re your best friend who you accidentally ended up dating for a bit, which is something that happens to the best of us. Sometimes the only thing keeping friends from being lovers is a hard dick.
2. “I’m Type A, you’re Type Z”
A lot of times, a type-A personality will shack up with someone who’s their polar opposite. They’ll be organized, ambitious and detail-oriented while their partner is more “go with the flow” and scatter-brained. This kind of yin-and-yang can work. Together, the different personalities balance each other out. The Tracy Flick psycho will learn how to mellow out and not be so rigid. Meanwhile, the relaxed partner will hopefully get some structure and focus. Sometimes, though, the personality difference is too wide. The type-A personality starts to resent their partner for maybe not having their shit together, which then starts to lead to a loss of respect. Like my dear old mom once said, “Never date someone you have to mother.” The person who’s more laid back can also grow tired of being bossed around and told what to do. It’s not good for either person. At a certain point you’re just enabling each other’s worst qualities rather than actually growing together.
3. “You’re an asshole and I have low self-esteem!”
Say what you will about Girls (and chances are you probably already have!) but the thing I like the most about it is Adam. Never have I seen an asshole depicted on TV so realistically before. When I saw the first episode, I was like, “Wait, that’s everyone I know’s ex-boyfriend.” The borderline-autistic vibes, the degradation and cruelty coupled with brief moments of kindness: they just nailed it. Of course, now Adam has evolved and become a more nuanced character. The boys I know who are like him are not nearly as complicated though. They’re dickish man-children who leech on to girls that they know will put up with their bullshit. Rarely do they reveal a tender side and start to change. Which brings me to another important lesson I’ve learned about relationships: people are not like houses. You can’t take a fixer-upper, flip it, and turn it into a gem. If anything, they’ll change into the person you always wanted them to be AFTER the break up and then their new significant other will get to reap the fruit of your labors.
4. “Class and money, honey!”
Class and money create divides that no one likes to talk about because we’d like to think that we’ve moved past it but I assure you that it’s still alive and well! I grew up middle-class. All of my friends were middle-class. Then when we went away to college, we were exposed to all of these different kinds of levels of wealth. Some of my friends shacked up with rich boyfriends, only to have the relationship dissolve because it became too uncomfortable. Being around that much privilege and money when you didn’t grow up with it yourself can produce a lot of anxiety. It’s funny because everyone has this idea of women going after rich men so they can become trophy wives. I get that it’s a real thing but in my experience, I’ve seen the opposite happen. I’ve seen my girlfriends become cripplingly insecure about their own status and feel stressed when they couldn’t contribute financially. It comes down to having different lifestyles. If you date someone who makes a shitload more money than you, chances are they go out to eat more, they travel, they go to movies and concerts. They do all of these things you can’t afford to do. So when that happens, it’s like, “Are you comfortable scaling down your lifestyle for me or am I okay with you paying for a lot of things?” If the answer is “no” to both, it’s…no.
5. “Hi, there’s a major inequity of love going on here”
People often say that in relationships, one person always has to love the other one more. I used to think this was true but now I think it’s bullshit. Love should be mostly equal and if it’s not, the relationship can’t sustain itself. When I was with someone who loved me less, I couldn’t stick around because it was too damn painful. Every day I was somehow reminded of the inequity and it killed me. To make things worse, I knew that this person wasn’t going to have the balls to dump me so I did it for him. Rude. If you don’t love someone as much as they love you, the least you could do is dump them!