The Fault in Our Starry Eyes
I don’t know about you, but when I fall for someone, I fall hard. I don’t just like someone, I have our coordinated wedding colours planned -- never mind that I don’t even want to get married. (I still have a secret Pinterest board, just in case) I don’t just plan a casual date to a local coffee shop, but we drive out to this diner with milkshakes that looks like it could be out of a Riverdale set and stare deeply into each other’s eyes while they answer questions that seem casually tossed out but really I was up until 3am last night crafting them out of a hyper-focused social media deep dive.
The early phases of a relationship are awash in serotonin and rainbows: you don’t know how they feel about you, you read deeply into every emoji, check to see if they’ve seen your stories, spend time crafting the perfect low-key but suuuuch a funny response. You’re flying high one minute and a sobbing mess the next, and for a lot of us, the rush is addictive. (guilty…)
Then, all the sudden, you’re dating! Obviously, it’s all about them. Despite being a proud feminista, a girlboss, a “leave him and let’s go dancing” kind of girl, as soon as I’ve decided to get into a relationship with a guy it’s like I lose my ability to operate as myself in the world. Every single relationship I get into, I “forget” my friends and focus on breakfast selfies. My friends would roll their eyes because when I did bother showing up at events, I’d bring my partner with me. “Yah, we love him,” they’d say, “but we wanted to see you.”
Inevitably, whether it’s a few months or a few years, I think most women I’ve talked to wake up and realize they can’t continue in this fashion. The bickering starts, the talking behind each other’s backs, the solo girls lunches that turn into a “should I dump them?” volley.
The media teaches us that the moment we admit to loving no one else but our person, we are at peak happiness. The music swells, the camera pans away to a wide angle of a city buzzing at sunset, and the credits roll. There isn’t an “after” after we find our soulmates, we’re just supposed to be the happy couple. That thing you’ve been looking for? Here it is.
I think most of us can sit back and realize this isn’t a super healthy idea of what’s normal, however. It may take time, but eventually we miss our friends. We miss our solo activities that we didn’t have to carve out time for because we had weekends all to ourselves to do them. We start to dream about being single again, decorating in every shade of millennial pink and sand we can find, and flirting with strangers at bars.
The thing is, the be-all end-all is not the relationship. We as human beings require community, and as individuals we are too many complicated truths for one person to hold. We need space to recommit to our own values, separate friends to share moments with, and our own spaces.
In short, it’s not just individuals that need community, but relationships as well. It is so tempting at the beginning to think “it’s just the two of us,” and let relationships outside of you drift away. To some degree, you’ll have to, right? One of the joys and struggles of living in love with someone is that your time isn’t just yours anymore. But make sure you make time for you. Put down your phone, really look at your friends’ faces at dinner. Take your mom on that date you were planning on taking your new boo. Keep your extended community close, because the hollywood fairy tale is just that: a story. We need our friends and family, and whether the times that come in your relationship are joyful or challenging, you’ll be so grateful for those folks in your life.