Tuesday, June 12, 2012

50 Shades of WTF IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE?: An Examination of Idealistic Love

Boy howdy, has Hollywood fucked us over.

Somewhere between “The Little Mermaid” and “Twilight,” we picked up this ridiculous idea that love should be easy.

That relationships shouldn’t require work.

That girls don’t fart.

That people who love each other never question their feelings.

That “happily ever after” is just that easy.

Here’s the thing- there’s a reason the movie always ends with the two lovers riding off into the sunset in a carriage, or throwing the bouquet, or finally kissing in the rain after two full hours of nail-biting buildup- it’s because the moment after the cameras turn off, the shit goes down. Cinderella and Charming are in the carriage, and she’s all like, “What hotel are we staying at?” and he’s all, “The Motel 6” and she’s all, “What the fuck is wrong with you? I’m a princess! I can’t stay in a motel!” and he’s all, “But you said anything was fine, as long as we had each other.” Then she gets her period and the honeymoon is ruined anyway-  and cue the marriage counselors and the drinking problems and the lawyers and the statistics. That’s why the movie always stops after the pretty “ever after” screenshot.

Because that shit don’t sell tickets.

Somehow, we’ve gotten it into our heads that we need and deserve love like we see in the movies.  But the things is, that’s not actually love. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that actually accurately describes love. I want my money back, Steven Spielberg. You’re a c***.

Jake, forgive me here, because I’m gonna get a bit personal. It’s nothing I haven’t told you in person, so I trust that you’ll be okay with me blogging our secrets so that others can learn from our glorious love tornado.

When Jake and I started dating, I tried to break up with him two months in. Why? Because. Just because. I was twenty, and selfish, and my friends weren’t crazy about him and I was taller than him by about an eighth of an inch and sometimes the way he talked in public embarrassed me because I didn’t understand what he was saying (he’s crazy smart like that). That, and he was in really good physical shape, and I wasn’t, and I didn’t want people to think “What’s that buff guy doing with Rosanne Barr?” So I broke up with him. We both cried. I went one night without him- maybe not even that- before I realized something felt wrong and I didn’t like not being his girlfriend. I few months later, he ended things with me. Why? You’d have to ask him. Pretty similar reasons I think, except add to the story that I had treated him abominably and picked fights and nagged nonstop since the start of our relationship. Fast forward four years, and we’ve been through several “breaks”, several breakups, a few screaming fights in cars, a lot of tears, but, BUT- much more importantly, the most love I have ever had in my whole life.

Admittedly, Jake is not who I imagined myself with. I’m sure he would say the same about me.  There have been times I wanted to wring his neck, and times where I know he has almost walked out on me. I have made remarkable and hurtful mistakes, and he has forgotten to tell me I’m pretty or that my dress looks nice or that he misses me or whatever. But let’s look at the facts:

a)   He is upstairs asleep right now in a bed COVERED with my personal belongings. He is snugly tucked in amongst lipstick, popcorn kernels, beer caps, boxes of tampons, and a cat that I brought home without asking him first. And that’s just on the bed. Imagine what the rest of the room looks like. And he has never said a WORD to me about the fact that I’m a sticker collection away from being on “Hoarders.”

b)  He thinks it’s funny when I put drag makeup on. He can even hold a meaningful conversation with me when my lips look like Amanda Lepore’s (go ahead… look her up).

c)  He eats my cooking.

d)   He picks me up from work, even when he’s exhausted, just because he knows it’ll help me.

e)  He will let me cry and not make fun of the fact that I snot up like a four-year-old. Even when that snot inevitably ends up all over his shirt.

f) He listens to every word I say… and never tells me I’m being boring or redundant, even though I am.

g) He spends time with my conservative Christian family and tries his damndest to impress them, even though he’s a bleeding-heart liberal-agnostic.   

h) He has held my head up over a toilet for two and a half hours straight so I didn’t drown in it while I black-out-drunkenly tried to convince him that I was the Black Swan.

i) He is still here.

Now, if we tried to make a movie about our relationship, we would fail, even by quirky “Eternal Sunshine” standards. Not a lot of stuff we do is remarkable, or memorable, or swoon-worthy. The thing is, I’ve had those relationships. Those moments. Hell, I’ve been tempted while I was with Jake- and he knows this- by things and people that promised those romantic sensations and outrageous futures. There are still moments where I question myself- question us- and think, is this it for me? Is the romance gone? Is there someone else?

The truth is, yes. There is someone else out there who could make you feel wildly sexy and vulnerable and beautiful and fill your life with passion and sexy sex and butterflies. There will always be that next person. But eventually, those butterflies in your stomach make contact with your stomach acid and run out of air and die and give you indigestion. And then your sexy butterflies end up in the toilet. Eventually, one of you will get bored and want to call it quits and the other will feel neglected and heartbroken and you will MISTAKENLY think that this- this was love, because it wouldn’t hurt so badly if it weren’t love. Reality check: if someone hits you over the head with a crowbar, it fucking hurts. Does that mean love is involved? NO. But it feels so sickeningly sweet to be hurt in such a way that we convince ourselves that it must be love, and then when someone normal comes along who doesn’t want to hurt us, we don’t recognize their normality, respect, and decency as signs of love because we’re so used to smashing together sex and feelings and newness and rejection and FUCK I’M SO FUCKING TIRED BUT THIS IS SO IMPORTANT SO I WILL POWER THROUGH that we can’t see a genuine, boring, remarkable love building and shaping right in front of our eyes.

So here’s what it boils down to: if you’re looking for Prince Charming, stop it. Look for a really good friend. Look for someone who would do anything for you, and then do your fucking part- do MORE for them than they’re doing for you. Stop looking to check things off the list you’ve got in your head for your perfect partner. Because they don’t exist. And even if they did, you know what? You’d be bored to tears and look for any reason you could to leave them.  If you want to fall in love- deep, meaningful love, take off your princess dress, put on your gardening gloves and your comfy jeans, and get to work. Put in the time. Plant those damn seeds. There will be times you want to walk away. There may be times that you do.  There may be nights you wonder what you could have had instead. He may wonder the same. Relationships are hard. Love is hard. But real, forgiving, meaningful love is glorious. And worth every minute of work you put into it. So buck up, Cinderella. 


  1. I love you. Have I mentioned that recently?

  2. There is a book. It is called 'Cinder Edna.' It parallels Ella's story, and that of her more down-to-earth neighbor, Edna. Edna takes the bus to the ball and gets her dress on layaway. She eventually ends up with the prince's gingery, bespectacled brother in a solar-powered cottage on the grounds where they run the palace recycling effort, play duets on the concertina and look after a house full of rescue cats. ...I kid you not, this was a beloved book from my childhood. And now I want to go and find it...

  3. Ok, I'm a few months behind here but I love this and I love you and I love your love.