I’ve never been much of a Hollywood film buff, but there’s one genre I’ve always despised more than the others, and that is romance. “It’s just a bit of escapism,” I hear you all cry! And I reply, shut the hell up. No, it’s not. To me it’s poisonous drivel (albeit poison disguised in sugar and chocolates and roses and heart-felt love notes) designed to trick us all into believing that the perfect man/woman is out there for each of us. You just have to keep searching and eventually a Ryan Gosling lookalike will come and sweep you away on an orgasmic high. Relationships are painted as these picture perfect things where two people just ‘click’ together so magically and there’s no need for compromise, or working on things, or the even more real stuff like finding money to pay for the bills or dealing with a crisis together.
And the point in the movie when the curtain falls and you’re still in his arms wondering how you ended up being so lucky is where it all ends. You live the rest of your life with a smile smacked on your face, because the hard work is done with, the search is over – there’s nothing else left now than to live happily ever after and have beautiful babies together.
I currently find myself in my first serious relationship and if there’s one thing I wished someone had pointed out to me early on is that no relationship is perfect. For relationships to work, you have to work at them, 24/7. There’s no such thing as meeting someone and things magically working out the way you want them to be with minimal effort (although, I’m sure there are exceptions and if you’re one of them I’m very jealous).
You may think I’m naive for not having already known this, but I genuinely didn’t. I expected everything to fall into place from day one, and it’s taken a good six months for me to start to be able to sit with anxiety and not think that things should be amazing every single day.
Let’s get realistic here. As individuals, we’re all fucking complex. When we enter a relationship, we bring both our positive and negative traits to the table. The positives are, of course, what attract us to one another. No one starts a relationship showing their darker side – at the beginning we put our best selves forward as we try to impress the other person. And there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s the way the world works. First impressions matter, and I doubt many of us have enticed someone with our less than appealing personality traits. There’s a reason why good looks are important at the beginning – nice boobs or biceps are there to disguise things like neuroticism and selfishness.
As time goes on, though, and the relationship evolves, the negatives start to bubble to the surface. At the end of the day, no one is perfect. We all have bad personality traits and insecurities – they are what make us individuals. It’s hard enough trying to live with these traits by ourselves; now bring someone else with their own complexities into the equation – I like to think of it as throwing an animal into an entirely new habitat. To survive, the animal will need to adapt in certain ways, but likewise, the new habitat will also have to accept its new visitor. If one of these two things doesn’t happen, the animal will die.
The sad fact is that a lot of people believe that relationships are supposed to be picture perfect. But, just like J Lo’s butt and Ryan Gosling’s abs, some things are near impossible to achieve. Life isn’t suppose to be perfect and neither are relationships. The minute one person in a relationship stops trying, everything starts to unravel and it won’t be long before the whole thing comes crumbling down.
I feel this is why so many marriages fail these days. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think people should stay in a marriage that is making them miserable just for the sake of it, but I can’t help but wonder whether society today is conditioning us into wanting happiness constantly, 24/7. We’re all told to ‘look after number one’ and in the process, we’re giving up on relationships and friendships way too soon, all in the name of being happy. What ever happened to working on things?
Being in a relationship is an emotional roller coaster, and, on the whole, if you find that the positives outweigh the negatives, it’s an amazing ride. It’s important to always remember that there’s no such thing as perfection. But then, who wants perfection? After all, the best nights out are the ones that aren’t planned and the most unassuming roadside restaurants serve the best food. Like with anything else in life, in order to enjoy a relationship you have to be open minded and non-judgmental, always prepare for the unexpected, and relish it for being perfectly imperfect.