Relationships are hard work.
This is what I finally realized after having been dating the same person for three years. We are generally happy, and we feel comfortable in each other’s company, most of the time. There were things in the past that challenged our relationship, but none of them ever came close to inflicting any serious damage. Most were just nicks and dents that eventually only made us cherish each other even more. We were an impenetrable fortress.
In retrospect, that last statement may have been the reason for our recent struggles.
As I was talking to one of my dearest friends, a BFFE(E for Eternity), it was brought to my attention that apparently, there exists a four year, give or take a few months, “make or break countdown” when it comes to relationships. I asked her to explain further what she meant by it and what I got in return was possibly one of the most honest conversations I could have with another human being.
To summarize, there are four major phases in young relationships, which are the following:
- Honeymoon Phase
The magical phase where everything is otherwordly. Every touch is electrifying, every kiss is exhilirating, every stare is spell binding. I could go on and on but it’s just going to get unbearable for some people. But the point is what was once normal, is now extraordinary.
- Losing your individuality(even just a little bit)
As you try to know your significant other, you tend to sometimes do things that you normaly wouldn’t do, and stop doing things that you normaly would do. This happens even though at the beginning you promised yourself that this relationship wouldn’t change you. You find yourself hiking the mountains instead of relaxing at the spa. Or realize that you are declining an invite from friends because you’d rather be at home snuggled together with your partner. And it happens without you realizing it, probably because spending time together is better than any other option.
- Trying to re-establish your own individuality
After more than a few “lose yourself in the moment” moments, eventually you will come to realize that you miss doing the activities that you used to. Like that midnight run that you never seem to have the time for. Nor that game that you used to play which is now gathering dust in the shelves. These are things that you were once synonymous with, pre-coupling. Some of them you may be glad to do away with, but others, not so much. You now have a choice to make. You can’t go back exactly to who you were when you were single. But you can choose the stuff that you feel are important to retaining your identity. The same ones that made you attractive to your partner in the first place.
- Period of Normalcy
You finally know who you are in and out of the relationship. You can be nauseating to other people, or act as a wingman to one of your friends, at will. You’ve reached the sweet spot and everything is almost back to the way it was, and it’s becoming the new normal. And this is a great thing that is happening. You are back to reality, for real this time. The magical dust that has been floating around has finally settled and you are beginning to see things for what they really are.
But herein lies the caveat.
Once we’ve reached the fourth phase, nobody told us that the invisible shield that protected and nurtured our relationship all this time dissipated along with the dust. Now we are fair game and it was time to gear up and strengthen our defenses. “Winter is coming,” and that it was time to:
Guard our hearts!
In as much as energy can neither be created nor destroyed but only transformed from one state to another, I believe human emotions are somewhat on the same ship.
The magic you’ve felt for your partner was and always has been neutral. There is always that possibility that someone else could tap into it and make you feel the rainbow of emotions you’ve felt before. It may feel good until that moment you realize that what was once exclusively reserved for your other half, is no longer. Another person has captured the magic, and you now have to decide if you want to pursue the new, or protect what you have.
If you decide to pursue, then congratulations. All you have to do is break up with your current partner, and start anew.
However, if you decide to protect what you currently have, there are two ways to do that. The first and most obvious way is self-flagellation. The act of forgetting people, how they made you feel, the good and the bad, is difficult. It is my belief that everytime we become close to somebody, a friend, a relative or a lover, we entrust a small piece of our humanity to them. And it is through this piece that we become connected, and at the same time vulnerable to the recipient. If we try to forget people, we are trying to cut off that piece, and it is messy. This happens all too often. That is why our world is full of broken people.
The other way, and this is what my friend suggested I do if I were to be in this position, is to try and strengthen my connection with the one I’m with. To not cut off the bonds I made with other people but rather, share more of myself to the love of my life. During the state of normalcy, it is easy to just be complacent and think that things will always work out fine. But emotions aren’t constant, they will change. By sharing a little more of myself with him, I raise the probability that when his emotions do undergo some change, it is in my favor. I speak in probabilities since I am not certain of the outcome even after sharing a significant amount of myself to him. I could only jump with open arms, and hope that he reciprocates my boldness.
I have jumped a lot during these past three years, and so far I have not yet suffered any broken bones. Just minor cuts and bruises.