Picture it. Connecticut. 2016. Hot, humid, and holy shit, another first date. Choosing wedges over flip flops was the most impactful decision laying before me, and my expectations hovered solidly in the cautiously optimistic section of the scale, just above the I have several binge opportunities with Netflix on hold if this goes south line.
Go figure, it seems to have worked out. Nearly 18 months later, and I haven’t smothered him in his sleep, although I did come close that one time I had to wake up at ungodly o’clock, and he sat straight up at about an hour before my alarm and shouted, “OHMYGODYOU’REGONNABELAAAAAAATE!” Which, in turn, woke me, my dog, the cat, several, local, recently deceased, and although I scavenged for sleep after restarting my heart, letting the dog out, feeding the cat, using the bathroom, and restraining myself from pressing the hose of his CPAP juuuuuuust hard enough, I never found it. Which, if we were married, is grounds for divorce and I’d get all the things forever, it’s the law, look it up.
At least it SHOULD be.
Over this last year and a half, boy HOWDY have I learned a lot. Like, did you know there are these crazy little elves that bring you coffee in the morning and it just shows up on your nightstand, exactly how you like it? (Piping hot, light and sweet, kinda like me. HEYOOO!) Those same elves search for a pot or pan and leave every goddamned drawer and cabinet open in the kitchen for me to close, like some demented game of whack a mole. Balance, I guess.
I survived a marriage for 13 years, and although it ended, I still thought I kinda sorta knew what it took to make a relationship work. The whole, been there, done that, got the ill fitting t-shirt mentality left me somewhat unprepared for operating within a healthy, long-term relationship. So, in the spirit of catharsis, and to those of you Ok Cupid-ing, Tindering, Bumbling, and POFishing around the dating scene, inundated with stupid dating advice, here’s some realness you can use to hopefully find, keep, and enjoy a partner for life.
I give you, Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went on a Date with the (unbeknownst to me at the time) Love of My Life:
- I’m fine. Just the way I am. It’s weird that I still sweat about stupid stuff, like my hair being too curly, or too straight, or wearing too much perfume, or being too opinionated, or too loud, or just too much of anything. Here’s the thing, y’all. YOU’RE FINE. Exactly how you are. One of the things I love most about Unicorn Boyfriend is that he accepts me, mostly. He’s still not a fan that I leave lights on, or that I threaten to cut all my hair off, which, guys? I DON’T GET. What’s the fascination with long hair? I get that it looks good, but have you ever tried giving yourself a blow out? It’s EXHAUSTING. So much reaching and pulling and turning and when you’re like me, and have tiny T-Rex arms, and cascading amounts of thick, crazy, unruly (much like me!) hair, ouch. Just be you, is my point, and I still have to remind myself of my enoughness, but don’t lose sight of how awesome you really are.
- The bright, shiny, fairy tale-ish phase only lasts SO long, and that’s OK. It took me almost a year, if not longer, to fart in front of UBF. I was shook the first time it happened. Now? Not so much. Hashtag comfortable AF.
- Do NOT care, one ounce, what other people think of your relationship. Unless there’s some blinding, abusive, red flags, just know that judgy mcjudgertons are gonna judge no matter who and no matter what. Which is not to diminish the difficulties of a negative Nancy or Norman. In my experience, I always won over the people in my partner’s periphery. It was a gift. Parents dug me, friends were fans. This time around? Much tougher crowd. I’ve made an ally or two, but hurdles still remain. See #1, by the way, and remember you’re aiiiiight, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
- No one will tell you that this person, who you fell in love with, adore, and even don’t mind seeing naked periodically, WILL DRIVE YOU INSANE. You’ll yell. You’ll reach a whole new level of anger and just when you thought you’ve reached the pinnacle of angry, a whole new zenith opens up. Relationships are HARRRRRRRRRD. In our case, there’s us, jobs, pets (mine), bills, kids (his and mine), family, and more all vying for our attention and we’re tending to all those things as best we can, and also trying to still date. They say we have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce, but can Bey juggle 7th grade homework times 2, walk the dog, cook a delicious meal, load the dishwasher, clean the house, AND still have the energy to ask someone how THEIR day was? Doubt it. Bottom line, relationships are work, and it’s totally ok to take a minute to collect yourself before you wreck yourself. Take naps. They help, a lot.
- Lastly, entertain the idea that, for all his faults, this person is still one of the greatest additions to your life. Let him be him, as much as he lets you be you. Appreciate who you are together, and apart. For a moment, take a step back from the work of improving, and just be. You may be surprised by what you find.