(Yeah, I know, my titles don’t make much sense, but they sure get attention!)
Four dreary faces looked down glumly at an even drearier breakfast, when one face made a still drearier statement. Apparently, he had only saved less than a percentage of his last salary. The disclosure animated one of the faces at the table, and she went “so what did you spend it on? A nice gift for the girlfriend?” to which the spender replied, “that’s also there, but she started working long before I did, so she usually foots the bills.” The animated face said, “I agree with that. Why should the guy spend all the time?”
If I had not been caught in a limbo between sleep and wakefulness, and a hangover from writing up to 3:00 a.m. and forcing myself awake at 5:00 a.m., I might have contributed to the discussion. Why do relationships have to involve spending money? Why does everyone get caught up in this cycle of watching movies, eating out, buying gifts and celebrating the tag days created by greeting card companies? My idea of a perfect relationship involves a lot of sitting at home and watching movies and football…which is why my most intimate relationships have been with my laptop and my television. Hell, they take me to football matches, Spain, Argentina, Hollywood, younameit…and they even make me laugh. What more could you ask for?
But somehow, not a single relationship seems to be able to shed its clichéd shackles. Most of the baggage of relationships comes from unreturned phone calls, unacknowleged texts, unfairly split bills…and an insistence that no relationship can possibly be uncomplicated. That no two people can just be themselves when they’re together and enjoy each other’s company. That no one can consider anniversaries and Valentine’s Days insignificant. That relationships have to be a task you need to work at, and not just about fun.
This was running through my head when I watched the last edition of Sex and the City – the movie version of the series that was Everywoman’s story. It made me wonder – do we all have happily-ever-afters? Do we have the potential to create them? And do we screw them up by trying to perfect them, sew together all the frayed ends clumsily, and exacerbate the ladders running through them?
As a relationship theorist (that’s what I call myself; not quite a practitioner in the traditional sense of the word, but a theorist, yes, definitely), I had come to find pleasure in dissecting the complexity of relationships. But an epiphany was always on the horizon, getting steadily bolder. What is wrong with a relationship that involves coffee, football, movies and hanging out at home? Where it feels like it’s just you in a slightly schizophrenic phase, and not two people trying to entertain themselves and each other? Why does everything that comes naturally have to be forced into neat little boxes with pretty little bows and handwritten cards?