There are a million types of people in this world, but when it comes to being completely deluded about one’s relationship, I believe there are only two.
The first kind of person has the ability to take a relationship that’s going perfectly well, and convince themself that it’s not working at all. This person will take isolated incidents, off-handed remarks, and thoughtless actions, and analyze them under a bright light and a magnifying glass until the whole thing inevitably catches fire. This is the friend who says things like:
“What do you think he meant when he said we could ‘hang out later?’ Is he blowing me off, do you think he’s not interested in me? Shouldn’t he have told me when he wants to hang out instead of just saying ‘later’? That’s it, I’m not texting him till he texts me again. This is bullshit.”
Then there’s the other kind of person, the one who takes their delusion from an entirely different angle and convinces him/herself that a relationship in ruins is actually going great! These people have an excuse for everything and their optimism is so blinding bright that it crosses the line from hopeful to idiotic.
“Technically it’s not cheating, because he only ever makes out with other girls when he’s drunk at a bar, and he didn’t even remember this one the next day, so that doesn’t really count, right?”
Love is complicated and there’s no one mold that fits all, so how can we define what it means to be in a relationship that’s working? Well…
When it’s working, you’ll be brave enough to say what you’re thinking. When you’re driving home from the movies on a Sunday night and he asks you what’s on your mind because you aren’t talking and have a worried look on your face, you’ll be able to tell him quite honestly that you just remembered you need to do laundry tomorrow or else you’re going to have to wear your speedo from high school swim team instead of underwear. He’ll be brave enough to laugh at you and tell you you’re gross, but that he has some quarters in his dresser if you’d like to borrow some. A relationship that’s working is candid, comfortable, and a little bit hilarious.
When it’s working, you’ll find that you have become fluent in another language. Your conversations with your significant other become a mishmash of inside jokes, references to shared past-events, and affectionate pet-names that you would never dare use in front of your friends (“Can I get you anything while I’m up, my little Honey Nut Cheerio?”). Being in a relationship involves a lot of communication, and sometimes that means special communication only the two of you could ever understand.
Even though it’s working, you understand that there will still be bumps along the way. He might not notice the new haircut you spent a hundred dollars on yesterday, and he might not send flowers to your work on Valentine’s Day even though that bitch Tina from Marketing got flowers sent to her, and he might think that a vacuum cleaner is a totally appropriate birthday gift, because after all, yours broke two weeks ago and you said you needed a new one! Your feelings will get hurt, and you’ll hurt his feelings too, but that comes with the territory of being with another human being – that you love each other doesn’t exempt you from this.
When it’s working, you’ll be able to find remarkable romance in the most unremarkable events. When you’re in bed with your significant other, and it’s 1am and you’re ravenously hungry but don’t want to admit it, and he turns to you and says, “I could totally go for some chicken nuggets right now,” you will never be more convinced that you have found your soul mate. What would have been a shameful late night excursion when you were single has magically transformed into a romantic adventure for two: holding hands as you head for the drive-thru, sneaking a kiss before leaning in to whisper, “Let’s ask for extra barbeque sauce!” Being in a relationship that works means having a partner in crime with whom you can appreciate the small stuff.
When it’s working, you feel like you’re part of a team. Have to leave early for work and forget to move your car for street sweeping day? Totally fine, because he has a spare key and he’s looking out for you. He’s sick and can’t leave the house without coughing up a lung? No worries, you’ve got all the grocery shopping for the week covered, including his orange juice and miso soup. A working relationship provides a safety net when life would have otherwise screwed you over.
When it’s working, you’ll learn that you don’t have to sacrifice everything you loved when you were single. You still get to go to yoga even though he thinks you could easily stretch at home for free, and he still gets to play poker with his friends even though you think that’s the real waste of money because Tim beats him.
Every. Single. Time.
And sometimes you’ll realize that activities you thought were reserved only for ‘single you’ are actually activities you can enjoy together, because everyone loves watching Netflix in their underwear on the floor and eating pizza straight out of the box. When it’s working, you’ll find ways to spend time together, but you’ll be just fine by yourself, too.
Finally, when it’s working, you won’t obsess over whether or not it is. You’ll stop asking your friends to help you interpret vague text messages, because even if you don’t know exactly what he meant by something, you know you’ll be able to talk about it with him later tonight. A relationship that’s working lends a certain about of predictability: you might not know what curveballs life will throw your way, but you know when you wake up in the morning that someone will be there to face it with you. A relationship that’s working is quietly confident, stable, and secure.