The Ease Of The Not-Relationship


It’s easy to want a relationship in the abstract without feeling the depth of what that entails. Like passing a caged puppy on adoption day, all adorable and eager and “I want it now,” but also a real commitment. Maybe it’s just easier to play with it for a bit until the day winds down then part ways. Puppies can be such a mess.

It’s nice to imagine how unmessy it would be to wake up with the same person each morning, receive wedding invitations addressed to you two, lie lazy and lethargic on Sundays without any sense of urgency, order two different meals to share bites off each other’s fork, plan for his niece’s birthday 5 months away — because of course there’s tomorrow, a whole infinity of movie nights, family dinners, excuses to skip the gym together of tomorrows.

Until it hits you one day after 72 hours (you can hardly believe they all happened) pass in a haze of too much summer sun, too few clothes, and nightly treks for frozen yogurt. You feel him sidled up next to you on the sofa, skin still sticky on yours, and the complete contentment of the past few days snaps and melts into future fears of “How much longer will we, can we…What if…

There in that moment you assume that Super Relationship You will magically kick into gear and those fears and questions will subside because, “Yes,” Super Relationship You confirms, “This is how love feels. This is what a relationship is.

But no switch is flipped, and you feel pretty much the same, like you definitely couldn’t fly. So instead of weighing all the good, all the depth of those 72 hours and many more before, Regular You makes the easier choice to stop before things (could) get messy.

And, Super Relationship You is really no more than the conscious choice made by Regular You, after all.

It’s as simple and complicated as that and, yeah, no super powers are required. But sometimes emotions feel so strongly, so draining, so powerfully out of control that it’s almost like they can’t belong to you, you’re just a regular person who doesn’t even own a cape.

So you separate yourself from those out of control emotions and retreat somewhere safer (5 months away is too ludicrous to burden yourself with, you think) until you seek out another 72 hours with someone different who doesn’t even really like frozen yogurt in the same way, so you’re forced to pass those hot summer nights without sharing such sweet cool relief together. It seems okay, for the moment, maybe even nice that you’re not wondering about tomorrow or waiting for Super Relationship You to save the day. Because this here and now is easy in the way that makes tomorrow not matter because you don’t really care if there is one for you and this new him. It’s already over in your mind, if it ever even began.

So, again, you’re back to your so-called safe place, which really is more an emotional swamp where the air hangs heavily humid and stagnant.

You remember what it felt like to want that relationship, the ease of the idea of it all, of tomorrow, of 5 months of tomorrows (how was his niece’s birthday?), and more to follow. That want never really went away. But to want something and to know how to achieve it are such vastly different territories.

You can go months, years even, of being stuck in that emotional swamp — not sinking or swimming — of sharing hours, days, weeks, with someone now and again without every fully giving yourself to a relationship. It’s easier not to.

You can’t count on Super Relationship You to lift you up, to make this wanted relationship occur. You are just you — regular and extraordinary in your own right — and if you want it and if someone scares you — because you see all those tomorrows together — then it’s up to plain ole’ you to make it happen.

If you stay stagnant too long, you risk forgetting those relationship feelings, forgetting knowing how to act, choosing the ease and contrived comfort of stagnancy instead. But, like, remember the horse from The Neverending Story? He SANK and DIED in the Swamp of Sadness because he didn’t believe more in love and relationships and all that metaphorically lyrical stuff.

No one said relationships were easy, but no one, super relationship powers or not, should succumb to a swamp. It’s a swamp, get out and get things moving.

featured image – Bronx