trouble in paradise? find another paradise
See, I don’t get love.
Really, how does it happen? People run into each other and say: “Look, here’s a person I don’t know from Adam, s/he looks promising, let me now invest inordinate amounts of time and energy into simultaneously learning everything there is to know about him/her and impressing him/her enough that s/he will want to learn everything about me, except not everything because there are some things I’d really much rather remained private, so in the presence of this person I will pretend those things do not exist and will generally do my best to be not me but some other person, one I mathematically predict s/he will enjoy more than the real, reality-TV-watching, over-the-stove-eating, online-shopping-for-pretty-sneakers-although-I-never-really-go-running me.”
Isn’t that how it usually starts? And then once that initial stage of all-round awkwardness and frantic exchange of body fluids is over, it is time to gradually reintroduce the previously suppressed personality, because really, who can keep up the charade, what with all the being neat and helpful and kind and made-up and, brrr, cheerful all the time, not to mention never picking your nose or having an upset stomach. And you say to yourself: “Look, I’m sure that now that we’re so in love s/he will understand. S/he probably also has things I’ve yet to find out, right? I mean, we both had that bad shrimp, s/he would really need an iron stomach— Besides, I’m adorable as I am, isn’t that what s/he always says?”
Well yes, it is what s/he always says, because in his or her eyes “as you are” is the persona you’ve worked so hard to build up. And s/he will most likely be unpleasantly surprised once it turns out that in fact it is against your core beliefs to wash the dishes ever and that you actually prefer sleeping wearing your grayish-white tube socks and nothing else. You sexy beast you. Not only that, but the gradual reveal of the disgusting slob you actually are will cause a mirror reaction whereby s/he will say to him- or herself: “Look, s/he must really love me if s/he trusts me enough to let go this much in front of me. The least I can do to express my love is to do the same.” And then they let their leg hair grow out and soon you find out you’ve actually been living with a child-murdering Zionist grizzly bear who doesn’t share the remote. (Am I up to date with my examples? I have been living mostly alone for a while, but I seem to remember that remotes, toilet lids and infant-hating Zionism are key irritants in most average relationships.)
After a while, once you’ve both adjusted to each other’s “delightful quirks” and have learned that a passive-agressive note on the fridge works better than yelling, especially combined with a couple hours’ icy treatment, i.e., you’ve ironed out the creases in the relationship and are now convinced that you are deeply in love (when you speak to your friends you might proud-humbly mention how you love your Zionist bear “despite the, you know, little things which are so minor I don’t notice them anyway”) – that’s when it turns out that there had, in fact, been some sort of a resentment brewing under the surface, or that the bear feels that s/he hasn’t really found him- or herself and needs some time alone to consider it, or it’s you that one day find yourself so physically uncomfortable with that tiny minor thing you don’t even notice that you can’t really share a space with the bear anymore.
Then, you break up. It hurts like the fucking end of the universe, you feel like someone punched you in the gut, you cry and howl and throw things and eat and/or drink bad things, and you feel like you’ll die alone and wish that day would come already, for chrissakes, get it over with, what do you have to live for anyway, et cetera et cetera, until one day some person catches your eye and you know absolutely nothing about him or her and you go: “Look, here’s a person I could devote the rest of my life learning everything about.” And you go back on the diet.
See why I don’t get it?