In many ways, I feel rather unqualified to give any type of relationship advice given the fact that I am now almost 23 years old and still single. However, I like to think that seeing so many failed marriages and relationships around me has given me some insight. So, perhaps you won’t write me off just yet, dearest reader?
In college I was surrounded by girls who were in love with the idea of relationships and love. I wanted to slap all of them. I wanted to slap them because the way that they talked it made it seem like love/marriage/romance was this shiny toy that they had to have. So many people talking about “getting a ring by spring!” or meeting their future spouse at a conference. Whenever people around me start talking about this I never contribute to the conversation. It’s just not something that I like talking to a group of people about, even if I’ve known them for a couple years. It’s nothing personal. Just, not a me thing. But one thing that I’ve noticed and I feel bears some thinking about is the romantic way my friends, classmates, co-workers, and society in general through movies and books, etc. present love. I once heard it said that our society doesn’t love love. It loves the idea of love. I find this to be very true, and one question I feel is fair to ask is meant to challenge our mindset. Yes, part of being in love is going on romantic walks on the beach at sunset (if that’s your thing), going to the movies, a warm kiss at midnight, etc. But the part that is often swept under the rug is the fact that relationships are work. Relationships aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes there are cloudy days. Sometimes there are cyclones. When you’re in an intimate relationship (intimate as in one where you truly show who and what you are, not having sex), you’re going to find yourself in these cyclones. And you’re not always going to handle them with the grace of a ballerina. Sometimes, the cyclones bring out a side to you that you may prefer to keep hidden. As opposed to putting up a front or a mask to try to make yourself seem “perfect” to the person you are involved with, what if we tried something different? If you are single and thinking about being in a relationship with someone, here is a fair question to ask yourself before you ask them on the first date: can I share my demons with this person? I’m not saying share as in you’ll both have them. I’m saying share as in will you be honest and say there is this side of me, there are these dark things in my past that I’m not too proud of. Now, granted, it’s probably not a good idea to share all your skeletons on the first date. But it is a good idea to enter into a relationship knowing that there are going to be times when the side of you that you aren’t so proud of is going to come out. And it’s I think healthy to confront that right away lest you give yourself or your partner the idea that you will have this perfect relationship because the only thing you’ll ever have to worry about is the occasional white lie.
Disclaimer: In terms of the skeletons in our closets, one should always use discernment as far as when to share what. I’m not going to tell you what is or is not acceptable to be upfront and share right away. An example of when or what kinds of things would be talked about would be in the “boundaries” discussion.