Three Lessons from Falling in Love
I know I haven’t written in a while, so I’m hoping you’ll let me off the hook if I explain my absence: 90% of it is that managing grad school + a career is so wonderfully challenging and disorienting that I’m behind on everything.
And 10% of it is that I’m too busy making out. But maybe you guessed that from the pigeon photo?
See, I've fallen in love with a guy recently. It’s the good, steady, hilarious, sappy kind of love with a good, steady, hilarious, sappy kind of guy.
It’s pretty cool.
You and I both know that only thing Christian Culture likes more than getting us all paired off in straight, sexless teams of two is talking about all the Life Lessons Learned from Romantic Bliss, so here we are.
I still think most of that is pretty much nonsense, but since I’ve apparently graduated to the upper ranks of Christian Culture by giving up my Single Female card for now and a list post is pretty much the easiest thing to write, I can’t resist offering my exclusive and unrequested insights into Coupled Life.
Here are three real things I’ve learned about falling in love:
One: Bees will attack you.
Pheromones are a real thing, so watch out when you’re taking walks around the neighborhood with your lover. You could be in real danger.
Or maybe you just have a gigantic yellow jacket nest buried in your front yard and it has nothing to do with your crushing and it will cost $100 for a man in protective gear to come in his van and dispose of it for you.
Two: Every time you do anything, it will cost more than $30.
When you really really like spending time with someone, it's easy to justify all sorts of adventures. It's Monday night? Perfect! Time for a late night happy hour!
You got any one productive thing done at work that day in the midst of your mushy disgusting daydreaming? Great! Celebrate that with tacos!
Want someone to see that hilarious new movie with? You've got 'em! Want to just hang out and watch tv? Well, duh, everybody needs time to relax with brownies and a good scotch.
There's a great reason for any occasion together, and occasions are best when there is food and drink involved.
The problem is? When you're dating someone, all of this will cost you $34. Even if you decide to be fiscally responsible and just buy groceries to make dinner at your house together, and aren't even drinking wine, just sparkling water, it will cost $34.
I don't understand why I could go out alone or with friends for a snack and a drink for $11, but adding another person to the tab triples the cost. TRIPLES. I mean, I was homeschooled for math, but even I know that 1 + 1 shouldn't = 300%.
And let's not get stuck in the "dudes have to pay" game. Everybody eats. Everybody works. Everybody pays. Once you're settled in a committed relationship - including any sort of solid friendship - paying is a sharing-life thing more than a proving-your-interest thing. You can’t keep score, otherwise you will feel terrible about having spent $200 on nonsense in only the first nine days of the month. Better to just not keep track of anything!
So yeah, between grad school and dating, I’m broke. Anyone need babysitting? House cleaning? I'll do it, but I’m not available on weekends anymore and it will cost you $34.
Three: Everything about you and your life is exactly the same.
I still have the same problems and insecurities, even in a healthy romance. In fact, one of the best ways to tell you're in a healthy relationship is TAADAAAAAAHH nothing in your personal life is magically fixed.
Boyfriend or not, I am still Emily with all of my delightful and frustrating Emilyness.
In fact, I'd be more worried if my life massively and entirely changed and got all perfect when I started dating someone seriously. Based on all my therapy and research, I can tell you that miraculous fixes are a good sign of delusion (see also: bees have it out for you), and delusions have never gotten me very far.
My life has never been supernaturally superior because I was crushing on some Adorable McSmartypants and I don't think it will. I struggle with the exact same messes. I laugh at the same dumb jokes. I still worry about how I look, what I'm going to eat for dinner, and how I'm going to survive another scrappy Twitter fight on Christian Internet.
I still care about all my friends. I’m still lonely and I still cry. I still spend too much money on shoes and whine about having nothing to wear. I still have to deal with my shame. I still struggle with being mature about not getting what I want.
I still think the church has super messed up rhetoric about marriage and dating and you bet your necking pigeons, I’m still going to talk about it.
Teaming up with someone is not magic. It's cool, but it will not fulfill you. It’s great to be well matched, but I still feel like just as much of a whole person as I did before.
Because at the end of the day, my call is not to get married or stay single or find a true love or impress you all with my skills and strategies for doing any of that.
My call is simply to live my life. And this is it.