In his Symposium Plato talks about the time when people used to have four arms, four legs and two heads. Out of jealousy Zeus split them in half, creating men and women. The two halves spent their lives looking for each other, trying to find the perfection they had lost. Since the Greeks weren’t a bunch of homophobes, the two halves could be a man and a woman, two men or two women. These were the so-called “soulmates”, people destined to be together, to love and complete each other, forming one soul.
I personally believe in soulmates. I strongly believe that there is a perfect soulmate out there for everybody, who is able to complete them.
However, soulmates or not, every couple needs certain “rules”, in order to work out -or to work out at best-. These are mainly ideas that I’ve gathered with time, and they are drawn from my personal experience.
5. Don’t have sex. Boring sex
When two people have just “met” (and by “met” I mean physically), sex is awesome. Fireworks every time of the day, when it’s freezing outside or when it’s so hot that anyone who’s not infected by reproductive fever can barely move, early in the morning and late at night after nine incredibly stressing hours of work/studying, after a work out so tiring that it could make anyone feel like a piece of cloth, and even after holiday meals, when any normal person with some sense would realize that after putting on 15 lbs they should spend at least a couple of weeks dieting and doing Pilates before letting anyone see them in their underwear again.
After a while, passion starts wearing off though. The length of this period is different for every couple but, trust me, sooner or later the time will come when you’ll start watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy in your underwear while eating pop-corn, and the idea of having sex will only cross your mind during commercials, only to be replaced by the anxiety for the next catastrophe that’s about to destroy the poor interns at Seattle Grace Hospital.
You should know that, when this day comes, you have three options:
a) you are at the end of your relationship. If, whenever you imagine the person next to you in their underwear your only reaction is a big laugh due to the horrendous boxers they are wearing, there’s nothing left to do.
b) you could keep on watching TV shows every night, making love from time to time for old times’ sake, until you’ll find yourselves old, wrinkly and unable to get up from the very same couch that seemed so inviting during your youth, regretting the good days when having sex was still a practicable option. Yey.
c) last but not least, you might pull yourselves together and decide to spice things up a little bit in your sex life. If you still like your partner, if still you find them attractive, now it’s the time to go nuts. There must be some secret fantasy you haven’t tried out yet, some contortionistic position that tickles your imagination, some weird perversion that has always given you chills. Perhaps you could try out some border-line experiences. Or swinging. To put it in simple terms, anything’s better than boredom.
4. Have roles
When I’m talking about “roles”, I’m not referring to the usual “man” and “woman” stereotypes where the man is working on his career and has to call a catering company even to make a salad and the woman is a stay at home mum that splits her time between cooking, knitting and bringing up four delightful children. I’m not talking about who has to use the washing machine, take the children to school and make a living that can support the entire family.
When I’m talking about roles I mean those that every person has in a couple. To make a relationship work, everyone involved has to know exactly what they are expected to do. It’s not about prepackaged roles that should be taken as a model, it’s about subjective positions that come spontaneously as soon as a couple is in tune – if it’s ever in tune-.
Let me give you a personal example: I am a profoundly insecure person. My partner needs to take on the role of “solid ground to stan on”, whenever I’m shaking.
3. Hate your partner’s flaws
As soon as you realize that even though you hate your partner’s flaws, you would still spend the rest of your life with them, then you know that you are in the presence of true love.
Be careful, you need to understand that they are never going to change. Those little flaws that during the first months seemed bearable and that you thought you might be able to change some day, are going to be there forever. In the best case scenario your partner will be able to hide them for a while, but they will eventually come out.
So, if they leave the shoes out of the closet, they sit on the clean sheets in the same clothes they sat on the bus, if they never set the table, don’t plug the electric toothbrush in, you have completely different political views, they don’t like your favorite food, they talk with food in their mouth…and you like them anyway, you still love them, even when they make your hands tickle because you just want to slap them and give them detention as if they were five years old, then, it’s true love. Make your peace with it.
2. Never compromise
Compromises are a relationship’s worst poison. You start off with the small ones, telling yourself that they aren’t so bad after all.
“Honey, do you mind if I leave the window shut because the noise in the street annoys me?”
“Of course, love” you say, when it’s a hundred degrees and you feel like a roasted chicken on Christmas day.
Then you move on to bigger ones, but still insignificant -or so you think-.
“Love, do you mind if I take that super interesting class on how to properly use a hook to catch fish instead of staying home and watch Drop Dead Diva with you on Thursday night? We did watch together Spartacus, after all! I know it’s one of your favorite shows, but I’ve always wanted to learn how to catch a trout!”
“Don’t worry baby, go right ahead!” you answer, even though you don’t think you’ve ever heard them talking about trouts.
Little by little, compromises start growing until, without even realizing it, you find yourself caged.
“Darling, I know that the sun gives you rashes, you can’t get into the water because of that burn on your thigh and you are allergic to shellfish, but I really don’t like the mountains. Green meadows give me headaches. Look, I don’t mind if you go to the mountains with your mum and I go to the beach with my friends”.
That’s why compromising is bad. If you have no choice, at least make sure that your partner will give you something meaningful in return.
Fighting is the foundation of every relationship. And you can’t build a skyscraper on shaky foundations.
If a couple doesn’t fight, it means that there is no real confrontation, and without that it’s impossible to love each other for real.
Fighting is good. I’m not talking about big fights, those that lead to a break up, tears and a huge amount of ice-cream, I’m talking about those healthy fights that come up whenever there is a difference of opinions. If you and your partner have a different opinion on a matter, let them know that. Tell them that you think they’re wrong. If you fight, it means that they care about sharing their point of view with you, because they think you can understand and respect it. After fighting, you might have changed your mind or not, but that’s not the point. The point is that you understand the other person’s perspective, respect and treasure it. That’s how you’ll be able to know each other deeply. I think that the couples that really and deeply know each other, through appearances and the surface, aren’t many nowadays. Well, those couple are indestructible. Just like a skyscraper built on strong foundation.