Ten things I’ve learned from being in a long-term relationship

Note: I can’t accurately say “long-term”; the longest relationship I’ve been in was just over a year. But since I’ve had a few around that length, I feel like maybe they can serve as one big, messed up relationship.

  1. I am horrible at remembering names, dates, and noticing slight physical or aesthetic changes. This shortcoming is particularly problematic in relationships.
  2. Saying that you love somebody is something that happens often within three or four months of ‘going steady’. Being in love with somebody is something that happens very rarely.
  3. Successful relationships are a high-priority for motivated people who have their shit together. I’ve only started to prioritize relationships recently.
  4. I’ve heard that two people can grow to love each other over time. In my experience, I’ve never grown to love anybody I just met who wasn’t awesome from day one.
  5. Lying is important in relationships. There are a few big lies I wish I had told in past relationships….my life would be a lot different now.
  6. I have friends who grew their friendships into wonderful, mutually beautiful, loving and stable relationships. “I’ve always dated friends” they say. Well, I’ve only dated acquaintances or random people, and it hasn’t worked out. And when I’ve asked out friends in the past, they’ve said no because ostensibly they didn’t want to ruin our friendship. It makes me think that I might be like a used car that has a new paint job but a motor held together with masking tape. I’m good-enough looking that I’ll get sold and re-sold, but after driving me around for a while, you realize it’s not a worthwhile investment. Also, I cough out black, acrid smoke from time to time.
  7. When you really love somebody, you can convince yourself quite easily that this is it. That you’re off the market. You can open that nice bottle of wine, you can put on a few pounds. Even if there are signs (they are moving away for a year, they are much younger than you, you are not a citizen of their country) that it might not work out, you feel like if the force of your will is strong enough, you just might make it! If you don’t make it, you learn that loving somebody is not enough. And that’s something that you know now, and it impacts everything else you do forever.
  8. Buy flowers sometimes. Chicks like flowers.
  9. Being in a relationship is a highly-contextual notion. Is it open or closed? How many people are in the relationship? How long is it before it goes from dating to relationship status? Is it static, or is it moving towards marriage? Do you have to have sex, or can you just kiss?
  10. Being able to argue and fight well is important. Just don’t do it too much.

    When you start to get older, you feel like you are losing a game of musical chairs. A game that lasts for years, and that slowly chips away at your psyche, your physical health, your enthusiasm, and your mental capacity. A game where people sit for a while, then stand back up.

    Where some chairs fall over or slowly fall to pieces. Where some people are bonded to their chairs, and some people bounce from one chair to the next. And you want to find a chair that fits you, that’s comfortable…so you look around and it looks like everybody else has a cushion seat or a Herman Miller. But then you sit in one of those chairs and it’s not as comfortable as you thought it would be, and there are now springs popping out from the last person who sat in the chair, and the upholstery is worn out.

    And then you sit in a new chair, but it doesn’t feel right; no grooves, too sterile. And maybe you try to order chairs online, but when it actually arrives, you find that it’s not what it looked like in the picture, or the seat is too big, or too small, or too hard. And the more chairs you see, the more complicated it gets, the more you want to hold out for the best chair, the most comfortable one. A throne!

    It’s tiring, walking around. You just want to sit in a chair, and you start to overlook the bumps and the grooves, the springs popping out from the seat. You know that if you sit long enough, your body will adjust, will get used to it. You know that at some point, you need to just find something before all the chairs are taken and you’re left standing by yourself.


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12 responses to “Ten things I’ve learned from being in a long-term relationship

  1. your musical chair analogy is nothing short of brilliant

  2. I like numbers 8 and 10; I’ve been with my guy 11 years and we’re getting married next month. Buy flowers often (if she likes them) but be thoughtful enough to find out which ones she really loves and which she possibly hates. It’s tacky and boring to bring home grocery store flowers when interesting and fab flowers (anemones, snapdragons, gerbera, parrot tulips), are easily found at florists or even on-line.

    Buy her flowers for the fun of it, not just as a post-fight apology. Fighting is crucial or someone is likely forever not being heard clearly. But don’t say mean shit they will never forget and may not be able to forgive.

    A long relationship allows you both the chance to grow up. We all need to, and being patient with one another (barring insane abuse) is good practice.

  3. I’d like to add to number 10:
    10a. Let go of your ego.
    10b. No bullshit.

    About your addendum…..I’ve observed that people who badly want a relationship don’t find one until they stop badly wanting it and instead find that they’re happy with themselves just as they are….that’s when they find THE ONE. That kinda makes sense because that’s when they’re truly ready for it.

    • Hi Stephie, thanks for the comment! To clarify your last statement…I don’t badly want a relationship, and 95% of the time, I’m the one who does the breaking up. I’m happy being single for the most part, and think I’m a pretty cool dude. I could probably put on 10 pounds of muscle in the perfect world, maybe lose a bit of my tummy…but I’m generally happy with myself.

      At the same time, I still want to be in a relationship, as I think most people do. Loving yourself isn’t enough, I think. And I’ve met lots of “THE ONE”‘s, but for one reason or another (geography, job, some other issue) it has had to end. I think there are lots of external circumstances that play as much of a role in how long a relationship lasts as how you feel about yourself or someone else.

      Being in a relationship, dating….all that stuff is easy (I think so at least). But finding a person you can really be happy with…that’s the challenge.

      Then again, I might just be supremely messed up.🙂

    • It’s not always the case. But it’s still a win-win: either they stumble into a great relationship when they weren’t desperately needing one (which is one of the precursors to making it great) or they remain happy with themselves and avoid gut-wrenching drama.🙂

  4. Wow. I think we have diametrically opposed views (or our similar experiences might have led us to different conclusions) to relationships:
    2. It didn’t used to be rare for me, but the older I get the less I find myself in love
    3. I used to prioritize them. Then, years ago, after I read a Chinese Horoscope about my sign (the Dragon) where it stated that my sign either marries for life or remains alone I had this moment where I decided to imagine my life both ways far into to the future and found that I liked both options. Now I haven’t felt this string need to pursue people who I’m unsure about.
    4. I’ve only grown to love people and it comes as a surprise.
    5. This point I entirely disagree with. Lying is important to horrible relationships, the truth is important to good ones.
    6. I used to feel the same way
    7. Yeah, it’s best to learn this lesson as early as possible.

    Addendum: I only felt like I was losing musical chairs when I was young, the older I get, the less it feels like that.

  5. Pingback: Top Ten Posts of 2011 | tenthingsivelearned

  6. Pingback: Top Ten Posts of 2011 — The Good Men Project

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