In my 26 years, I have experienced a wide variety of [questionable] relationships, ugly-cried-and-oozed over plenty of rom-coms, and daydreamed about the off-chance that some serendipitous event would make my heart grow like the Grinch on Christmas.
Let’s be honest: how can you have faith in something that gives you such severe whiplash? I wanted to explore how these two parts of me (and, hopefully I’m not alone here) are constantly contradicting themselves in both what we hope for, and what reality teaches us.
Romantic: I have always hoped for the gesture – just a small one – where there’s no real reason behind it, other than they just wanted to do it. You know, something like showing up at your door with flowers and a coffee from your favorite café. Where all he’s hoping for is to start your day on the right, caffeinated foot with a smile.
Cynic: I once had a boyfriend show up at my door with both the flowers and a coffee to sit me down and tell me that he cheated on me, and to say he was “so sorry”. These two “gifts” were supposed to convince me that he was worth it and would never do it again. I kicked him out and kept the coffee.
Romantic: Ski trips were always something that I found extremely romantic, even though they usually included about four to five other couples crammed into a house for the weekend. But, being able to spend time on the slopes, get some hot cocoa, and relax in the Jacuzzi at the end of the day, was a story I wanted to brag to my friends about.
Cynic: Two months into a new relationship, I was invited up to a ski house for the weekend to celebrate New Year’s with his friends. We all rented a house on the side of the mountain and cheered to a new year. The second day into the trip, he accused me of coming only to get with his friend – someone I had just met that weekend, mind you – and that I would need to find a ride home since he “wasn’t going to play these games with me any longer”. His friend offered me a ride home though.
Romantic: All we want to hear from the one we love is that we’re beautiful. Am I right? We may have some off-days, and we may not always want to be dressed to the nines – but we’re still beautiful to them, right? It’s that “you’d look beautiful wearing a trash bag, with no makeup and weighing 200 pounds” line that we hear Prince Charming say all the time.
Cynic: In my junior year of college, I got injured playing soccer and was benched indefinitely. Being an athlete all of my life, I didn’t know how to NOT be constantly in training mode. So I continued living my life as if I still was. (Metabolisms don’t get this, by the way.) I remained inactive, maintained my healthy appetite, and gained some weight. My lovely boyfriend at the time felt the need to point this out to me, and even told me that I needed to take diet pills because I looked horrible. Once I was healthy again, I dropped the weight and saw him at a party – his jaw dropped.
Romantic: Who doesn’t dream of one day sharing a home with the person they love? It’s one of the best experiences to look forward to – building your lives together under one roof. You can come home from work, regardless of the kind of day you had, and see this person relaxing on the couch watching tv. You can curl up after dinner without having to make plans to see each other. You can fall asleep knowing they will be there when you wake up.
Cynic: My shared roof lasted about four months before it hit rock bottom. I would come home not knowing where he was, and wake up in the middle of the night without him being home yet. Shortly after, he told me he couldn’t do this to me and left me. With everything: the lease, the bills, the empty home. So I lived in a bachelor pad, solo, for the remaining eight months.
Romantic: In my mind, if my boyfriend can’t get along with my friends, he’s not going to cut it. It’s not like it’s that hard – my friends are great, open-minded people. I want to feel like my boyfriend and my best friend can feel comfortable around each other without me having to be the buffer. Typically, this is almost as important (if not JUST AS important) as meeting the parents. He’s going to spend more time with my best friend anyway, right? So the two of them should be able to get along.
Cynic: A few years back, I missed out on a party because I wasn’t feeling well. The boyfriend told me he was staying in, too, because “he didn’t feel like doing much”. Imagine my surprise when I get a frantic call from my friend at 2 o’clock in the morning because my boyfriend came onto her at a party and said “no one will ever find out, because we’re not going to tell anyone”. I didn’t mean “get along” like THAT.
Romantic: Being reminded that you were on their mind is a great feeling. Whether it’s a phone call, or, quite frankly, a text, it’s just nice to receive. That’s what this new technology offers us – a way to send a quick note that can instantly cheer up someone’s day.
Cynic: I’ve been dumped via text. Actually, let me clear that up: five texts. It was five, long, drawn-out texts that told me it was over. Because that was easier and faster to send than picking up the phone.
Am I a cynic? Yes, apparently – it wasn’t completely obvious to me until I laid this all out. But I do want to be a hopeless romantic. I really do. Forgive me for having difficulty in seeing that aspect of love. I want to believe that small gestures have no hidden agenda; that when someone tells me I’m beautiful, I can trust that they mean it; that a home can be shared with no worry, disappointment or abandonment; that when he gets along with my friends, it’s because he knows how much they mean to me; that texting can be used for good.
And it’s because I want to believe in this, that I won’t give up entirely. But I will be more careful that the hopeless romantic in me doesn’t entirely fog up the glaring truths, but also that the true love cynic doesn’t dig a big hole that I can crawl into forever and escape, without experiencing everything that still awaits in the future.
By Jessica Coleman