Since the day to stuff our face with heart shaped candy while hugging our new teddy bears, inhaling rosebuds clenching to our lover’s arm is around the corner, we’re thinking about the idea of romantic love. This does not concern Valentine ’s Day singularly but it’s a great segway.
We all learnt to love by watching the world and it’s stories, the accounts of love through centuries of art and, as a result for a period of time in life, we are somehow convinced that there is such a thing as a soul mate, our perfect significant other that we’ll stumble upon by pure luck, lock eyes, brush against in line for a pretzel, or bump into while not watching where we’re going and that we’ll instantly know. In this initial naiveté while first encountering the idea of romance we believe this serendipitous encounter will develop further with no bumps and bruises into fairy-tale happily ever after life. We’ll presume, as the Alain de Botton, a philosopher that started the School of Life claimed, that our other half is supposed to magically know all of our thoughts and feeling, that there is no need to talk about things because everything is understood through taciturn hugs and hair strokes, that they will intuitively know what we like in sex and that all of your time will be spend embracing and reciting expressions of our undying love for each other. If problems arise or we see sides of our partner’s character we’re not so fond of it must mean this is not our soulmate. This kind of illusory love is pretty much doomed by first encounter with reality and is unsustainable. By the way if you’ve ever pouted, this is why. You believed a partner should magically understand you without having to communicate what you want or what you feel. You are not even sure what you think or how you feel. How would they know if you don’t say it? If we want a partner in life, a real person rather than a picture perfect illusion, we’ll take it all in, the stumbling, the mistakes, the awkwardness, the shutting out, the discussion, the need to work on it… We will choose to stay despite the imperfection, or maybe because of it exactly. We’d be bored out of your mind with perfection after a few weeks and would yearn for our annoying soup slurping, snorting when they laugh, open robe, forgetting to turn on the dish machine loudmouth significant other we may be mad at now.
Talk about the unromantic stuff, about the hard things, the traumas, the money, the fears, the laziness, the darkness, the chores, the kitchen cabinets you don’t like or meddling families that are straining the relationship. Talk about logistics of everyday life and how to make it work for both of you. Talk about the hair in the drain and whose turn is it to do something hard or unpleasant. When these things are in place, when you can speak openly about the entirety of your imperfect being with another and you choose to stay then you have a partner not a crush. Talk about the nitty-gritty stuff in order to get the romance back. When there is nothing unspoken lurking from the shadows and breeding resentment you can have your cake/Valentine’s day candy and eat it to and enjoy the romance that comes from knowing another being with all their complexities not only idolizing a low resolution imagined phantasy. We all stand naked before the ideal of perfection. It is not real. It is not necessary.