Love can happen at any time, and it (or at least infatuation/lust) can make you immune to a hell of a lot of weird behavior. There are so many petty, insignificant things you’re willing to overlook in that honeymoon period of a relationship that, when the honeymoon is over, will set you more on edge than waking up with a spider webbing your nostrils shut. Things that may mean nothing today but could very well be the grounds to end your relationship tomorrow.
When you first start seeing someone, a food quirk is nothing. Hell, in some cases, it may even be adorable. “I love the way you pick all the sprinkles off of your doughnut and eat them one at a time.” “Oh, you like to eat Chef Boyardee three meals a day? Well, that’ll make shopping easy!”
Having a well-developed palate is really only important during one week of filming on Hell’s Kitchen when Gordon Ramsay makes you eat stuff blindfolded while screaming about what a donkey you are. Beyond that, it’s reasonable to know and appreciate the difference between a fish like branzino and, say, the severed foot of a longshoreman. One’s eating habits and appreciation for food are so far down the list of important things to care about that an “I’m good with anything” person doesn’t even register on your “something’s wrong” detector.
But After a While…
I’m a fairly decent cook. So much so that I actually typed “chef” here at first, then erased it because I smoke pork roasts in my boxer shorts while drinking alcoholic root beer. But I can make a meal that’s fairly tasty and that’s all that matters. But I still feel that twinge in my spine when I have to ask someone what they want, and they refuse to commit to anything beyond “Whatever you’re having is good.” My ex, a person for whom I have no empirical evidence that they were human and not a lizard in a woman-suit, would constantly say she wanted “whatever” and then elect to eat nothing after I prepared an entire meal. Then an hour later would make a box of macaroni and cheese because she was starving.
You can only coast for so long on the “whatever” wave when it comes to eating. Because you need to eat every day, several times. It means nothing during a dating period (or courting, if you’re fancy like me). That’s the time when you go to a restaurant and you pick your arbitrary choice from a list and someone else makes it. You’ll both have the pig liver in chocolate sauce, sounds great!
When you’ve settled in to a relationship, the gloves come off. When they were putting their best foot forward by being agreeable to anything before, now they just want to be happy. They want to eat a whole pizza to themselves, or toast for four days straight, or they need the kid at McDonald’s to make them a burger with three pickles, 22 onion pieces, a dab of vanilla shake in the center of the ketchup, and all the fries need to face east. It’s at this point you start thinking “What the fuck side of a fry is the face?”
It’s not so much the individual food choices — a passion for Hot Pockets or ketchup on a steak — it’s that this person is now showing a side you’ve never seen before, and he or she is coming across as if nothing is ever good enough for them. Your effort is wasted and they don’t respect the time or work you put into trying to make them happy, to engage in what a lot of people consider one of the most basic and obvious forms of caring for another person: nourishing and feeding them. Instead they shit on it and wipe their ass on a corn dog, which is not how corn dogs work, let me assure you.
Missing Social Cues
Missing Social Cues
There’s a really refreshing quality to being with someone who has a different way of viewing the world. Maybe they’re more brazen and bold while you’re conservative, or perhaps they’re contemplative and thoughtful in the face of your rash adventurousness. It’s the whole “opposites attract” thing that I once heard a cartoon cat and an American Idol judge singing about. Most of us don’t necessarily want to be with someone just like us, so someone who can challenge the way we approach the world is welcome and exciting. Yes, new person, I will get naked with you on this beach and dance on rocks while old people watch us. This is what my life has been missing!
But After a While…
Even a breath of fresh air can sometimes sour if the room gets filled with dog farts. Your partner’s tendency to yell “Fuck my face with a tire iron!” every time they taste a really good sandwich will start making you uncomfortable at the mall food court eventually. And it’s all well and good to say you don’t care what other people think, but come on. This is me, don’t treat me like a silly tit. I know you care about what other people think and as well you should. I do too because I don’t want to be the guy walking through Wal-mart in a pair of stained underpants drinking Robitussin and swearing at the produce. That guy is a creep and doesn’t get to meet fun, new people.
You care what people think, and if your partner is embarrassing you on a regular basis, that’s stressful as shit. Your partner can do something as simple as stopping in the middle of an aisle at the grocery store so other people can’t move past, or using their cellphone during a movie in a theater, or masturbating on the bus. These kinds of things make your pulse race a little at first because they’re not what you’d do. But later in a relationship they make your pulse race because they’re not what you want anyone doing. If there’s no happy medium between what you think is proper decorum for public behavior and what they think is proper, the tension will continue to mount.
This can even work in the opposite way. Maybe you’re the outgoing one and they become some kind of shitty Public Person robot who acts self-consciously around others, changing the way they speak and the kinds of jokes they tell. Maybe they do it because they’re adjusting to new personalities. Maybe they’re pandering to a crowd. My lizard ex was one of those people who would get with friends and explain not seeing them in a while with quips like “I get stuck doing all the boring shit this guy likes to do” in reference to me. Ha ha! I get it, I’m a dickhead you were sentenced by a judge to endure! Funny!
Your tolerance for someone who can’t act normal in public has a lifespan, and it’s very intimately related to the number of times you have to go out in public with them. Eventually it’s going to lead to resentment and, if I learned anything from Yoda, it’s that this is a definite path to either the Dark Side or Hayden Christensen’s acting, and you want no part of either.
Being Possessive — No, Not That Kind Of Possessive
Being Possessive — No, Not That Kind Of Possessive
One of the strangest things to adjust to in a relationship is the concept of going from a me to a we. It’s not you anymore, it’s us. We do things, we make decisions together, we own things together. It makes sense in the beginning that you’re not used to this. I mean, up until that moment, you were single. Or you were if you’re not an asshole.
But let’s say that you move in together and you buy yourself a nice ham. You put it in the fridge for later. You come back that evening to celebrate Ham Time, and GASP! It’s gone. Your first instinct is “DID YOU FUCKING EAT MY FUCKING HAM??” But man, that ham ain’t your ham anymore. You put it in “our” fridge. That’s our ham. We ate it. Without you. Because we’re in this ham game together now.
But After a While…
If you can’t adopt a “we” attitude, you don’t really belong in a relationship. You’re together as a pair, and that selfishness is not going to fly. The day very well may come, when they have a nice slice of key lime pie and you’re looking at that pie thinking “I could use a bite of that pie.” And so you ask for the pie and they look at you the way a lion looks at a gazelle when it manages to get across a river to safety, that “fuck you and your entire lineage” look. If you want pie, you know where the fuckin’ pie shop is. Why don’t you sashay your pretty ass down there and buy all the pies you can handle?
No one expects a partner to give up a kidney or liver or anything during a relationship. But for God’s sake, not everything has to be yours all the time. If they were putting on an unselfish front at the beginning, and all these little things start popping up like that passive-aggressive “What happened to the last can of Fresca?” shit when they know damn well you’re the only other person in the house so you must have drank that delicious Fresca, you’re going to start feeling like you’re not with the same person anymore. You expected someone who, if not entirely generous, was at least reasonable. And now, suddenly, they aren’t.
My ex had a running tally of everything she contributed to our relationship and wanted back which I didn’t find out about until after we broke up. This included the dishes, the shower curtain and that mat you put at the base of the toilet. That pee-spattered, half shag ode to poor aim and Hans Gruberesque droplets that hold on as long as they can before tumbling to their demise amidst its fibers. No one has ever wanted one of those things when they were brand new let alone after a couple years of harrowing service at the foot of Turd Lagoon.
Selfishness ends a relationships. It has to because it’s not a singles sport like … oh, what’s a single’s sport? Bocci? Is that a thing? You know what sports are. It’s not one of those.
Affectations of speech are kind of cute and quirky at first. Hell, we even celebrate them in children. It’s just adorable when a baby says “shit” for the first time when they’re trying to say literally any other word. When you hit adulthood and still bust out the words “berfday” or “libarry,” well, that’s a thing that takes some getting used to. The newness of the relationship still makes those mispronunciations kind of delightful. And even if you don’t think it’s cute, it’s small. You may just pause a conversation long enough to tell them that the “C” in scissors is silent and move on.
But After a While…
If you’re with someone who legitimately thinks that big, orange squash is called a “punkin” and refers to it as such every Halloween, by Halloween number four you’re going to start getting that little twitch around your eye and gritting your teeth to keep from exploding like a landmine made out of suplexes. There comes a point where you need to wrestle with the realization you may be in a relationship with a dullard. And not just a hapless dullard, a committed dullard who, even with repeated corrections, will not undull themselves.
I once knew someone who continually called deodorant “derodorant.” I don’t know why. I don’t know what they thought the word meant, or how it related to actually deodorizing things. Was it in their minds de-roderant, and roder was a thing you needed to get rid of? Or was it der-orderant and der somehow vanquished stank? I can’t say. The one time I asked what deroderant meant, they looked at me like I was the idiot for not knowing. Because they didn’t get it, and that’s what’s infuriating about someone who doesn’t know they don’t know something.
From the other perspective, they may not have the linguistics game down but at least they’re not an asshole. No one likes to be corrected, we’re not grade schoolers here. The situation feeds off itself — one person can’t figure out that there’s an “r” in brisket and the other can’t quit pointing out that there is until you both hate interacting with one another because your partner is either making you constantly feel like a dullard or they’re making you feel like they just love being one. Neither of these feelings are a good way to foster any kind of positive emotion so expect the whole thing to fall apart pretty quickly.
The great thing about Netflix is not just the micro-budget horror movies produced in countries you’ve never even heard of, it’s the ability to make an entire day of sitting and staring while simultaneously calling it “couples time.” You can binge-watch Stranger Things and never move a muscle, and that’s an entire date night. Good work, team!
This etiquette extends to anything you do as a couple, anything involving even the slightest group effort, such as the kind you exert by both sitting on a sofa and looking at a TV together.
But say one of you has to work tomorrow and one of you doesn’t, so you get to the episode when Barb gets monster shanked and you call it a night, you down a few shots of Robitussin to keep the night terrors at bay, you give your crotch a quick spritz in the sink and it’s off to bed. Next morning you get up and- FUCK A DUCK! They’re on the episode where they find Barb’s monster-shanked corpse farting up that shitty slug baby in the woods. What gives?
But After a While…
This kind of self-centered thinking tends to fester. And Netflix is really just a placeholder here, standing in for anything that represents the idea of you two as a couple: going shopping together, meeting up with friends, setting old barns on fire. You do these things only partially because you need to do them, and partially because you want to do them with that other person. That’s how it’s supposed to work, anyway.
When someone disregards the couples aspect, when they finish a movie on their own, when they go buy that new set of decorative cat armor on their own, it’s like saying your half of the relationship is only relevant when they want to put the time and effort into including you. And you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, either. Watching it together later is always less satisfying, it’s like a pity watch. And it’s made so much worse if they’re the sort of person who will randomly say “Oh man, this is a good part, watch this!” like they’re now your helpful guide to how TV works.
If you can’t be considerate of your partner on even a basic level, enough to hold off on your own whim long enough to include them in something you planned to do together, then you probably suck and the rest of us don’t want to watch Netflix with you. Or do anything with you because you’re shitting on the idea of couplehood. Go watch Iron Fist. Watch it twice.
Remember, if someone can’t love you at your Netflix, they don’t deserve you at your Prime Video.
Start a relationship with Ian’s Twitter and it’ll never go behind your back with Facebook.
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