In the dating game and the world of romantic comedies, there are two prevailing schools of thought when it comes to involvement in the opposite sex. The common adage is that opposites attract. Counterpoint this is the idea that similarities do not cause disparities (just made up in the hopes it becomes a common adage). Based on personal experience, I can attest that neither school of thought really provides a hard rule, but I can at least share the following testament regarding perfection and its applications to romance.
A couple of years ago, I met this girl at a party. After hours of hanging out with friends and playing board games, we separated from the herd for a private conversation. We hit things off very quickly and we began seeing each other.
Our relationship started innocently enough. We met up at a coffee shop down the street from my apartment. She was a caffeine addicted nanny looking for an excuse to get some java juice. I went for a fruit smoothie. Then she told the cashier she was paying for both and then whispered in my ear, “that makes this a date.” It was pretty cool and set the stage for the whole relationship.
Date 2 was a hockey game followed by a concert. This has become a staple of my relationships. We met up at the arena where she noticed I didn’t have a beer. This was against the rules. You have to drink a beer at a hockey game. After a chugging battle and a nice win, we traversed downtown. The band performed covers of 80s songs to the delight of our tipsy ears. I learned about another rule. You could not see a band without drinking beer. After a couple rounds and a couple of songs, we hung out in the parking deck for some long conversation.
After that night, we began seeing each other. A lot. Every waking moment became an excuse to see the other and we could go on for hours. We matched very well on so many levels. Collectively, we had the same tastes in music, movies, TV shows, the same outlook on life, the same kissing style, similar childhood experiences, we had the same meds. Together, we pooled together our love and hatred and called it a relationship. This would not be enough.
A relationship is a team effort. Both parties reading from the same playbook. There is a certain level of compromise and sacrifice to be expected. That’s where the relationship started to fail. We continued to go through the motions of dating. We called each other. We hung out. We started making longer-term plans. Something was missing. Whether we cared to admit it or not, we both wanted something different. Sadly, getting out of a relationship is harder than getting into it.
It was a sunny, Sunday, winter morning. I woke up and felt like something bad was going to happen. There’s a funny thing about worrying. Sometimes it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes it’s the mind preparing for the inevitable. I was in the middle of a church service when I glanced down at my phone. I had gotten a Facebook message that we should meet up for coffee, at that place down the street from my apartment. It seemed innocent enough, although post first date coffee typically is the “We Need to Talk” speech where you reevaluate and recalibrate yourselves or the “We Need to Break Up” speech where you need to break up. A second Facebook message noted we would be breaking up. Tough. Honest. I fought it. But it was necessary.
Fundamentally, there was something wrong and it led to our eventual downfall. Our interests were really only superficial. We started spending less time together and finding excuses to spend less time together. There was a lack of direction and we at different stages in our lives and we wanted different things out of life and each other that we couldn’t offer one another. Eventually, we were overcome by our joint passivity. Together we decided that we couldn’t keep each other happy in the long term. Like most truths, this was painful, but it provided a valuable lesson. Looking back, my relationship was like a jigsaw puzzle. We had the potential to make a beautiful picture but together, we didn’t have enough pieces. There was too much overlap (that’s about where the analogy fails).
Being into the same stupid stuff doesn’t mean you should be in a relationship. There’s a certain balance between similarities and differences in interests and abilities. A good relationship is a good team and a good team has a wide range of skills to overcome challenges and obstacles. Finally, a relationship is work. Don’t be afraid of it. This is love, after all.