From the moment I broke up with my ex, I felt as if I couldn’t write enough about relationships. Last year was chock a block full of bitter articles, hours upon hours deciding how to translate the words “F*CK YOU” into slightly more eloquent phrasing, and pathetic satisfaction at getting the last word. With each published article I received encouraging messages from fellow members of the the Lonely Hearts Club, and as the self-proclaimed Queen of Broken Hearts I decided I’d found my calling. Some of my greatest spurts of inspiration resulted from passive-aggressive text messages, disastrous conversations with guys at parties, and unrequited crushes—all scenarios in which I’d decided I was in the right and he—whoever he was—needed to be reminded of that fact. In all honesty, I was pretty damn ruthless and had no intention of changing my bitter Taylor Swift-esque tune.
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t on my mind when I went on a date at the beginning of the semester with a guy who, for privacy’s sake, we’ll call “Jeremy.” Unlike my wildest fantasies, my relationship with “Jeremy” didn’t begin in a whirlwind romance—at least it didn’t begin that way for me, anyway. After what was quite literally a dream date of Italian food, jazz music, and stargazing, I preemptively called things off, deciding it was much simpler to remain single and under the radar where I could resume writing my angst-ridden articles pretending I wasn’t terrified of meeting decent guys and breaking their hearts. I’d never been the bad guy before and bringing our budding relationship to a screeching halt not 48 hours after what was admittedly one of the best dates I’d ever been on was decidedly a bad guy move. After what has henceforth been dubbed our “preemptive breakup,” I drafted an article relaying my anxiety to begin a new relationship and my reluctance to become someone’s girlfriend.
As things turned out, I never wrote the article. Too many mutual friends and the potential of running into “Jeremy” on campus kept me from doing so and slowly the weeks passed. Nearly a month after the preemptive breakup, the radio silence was broken by a text from “Jeremy” asking if we might try hanging out casually again. Whether it was an onslaught of guilt after rejecting the guy a few weeks prior, or my own genuine interest in rekindling whatever may or may not have sparked the first time around, I accepted.
As fate would have it, things worked out the second time around and now “Jeremy” and I have been a couple for a little over a month. Maybe it was the fact that he, unlike other guys I’d dated, asked my permission before kissing me goodnight. Maybe it was the way he walked me home and said exactly what was on his mind. Maybe it was his humor, patience, happy-go-lucky persona, or the love note he slid under my apartment door. Whatever it was, it worked and before long my suspicions that he might go the same way as the other guys gave way to a new worry: that I’d be the one worth writing about this time.
A couple days ago, he asked if I had any LD relationship pieces in the works and, burying the urge to quote Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song,” I shrugged and said, “You’re too nice to make for a very interesting article.” Despite my brusqueness, that quick deflection got me thinking. Was it true? Has my artistic integrity been compromised now that I’m in what’s been a very loving and—dare I say it?—successful relationship? What am I without an irreparable bitterness towards the male species? Is it possible to write without the fire of aggression, revenge, and tragic self-righteousness burning beneath me? Who the hell wants to read about my successful relationship anyway? It’s always been my impression that people in relationships don’t care to read much about other people’s love lives, and those not in relationships really don’t want to hear about how happy those of us in relationships are.
More generally, is it possible to write about relationships—good or bad—while we’re in them? Clearly that was Carrie Bradshaw’s bread and butter, but in reality it isn’t so simple. Am I too close to the issue to gain an objective view of dating? Do I really have any authority on the matter? What if he reads this? What if his mom reads this? What if he’s offended that I told the whole internet about our preemptive breakup? What if his friends think I’m psychotic? What if my friends do? And who am I really writing this for?
After silencing his texts and mulling over these questions for hours, I finally came to the conclusion that new first kisses, second chances, and good relationships need to be written about—if not to validate the relationship itself, then to remind us all that there’s a lot more love in the world than what our Facebook newsfeeds may lead us to believe. Sure there’s something to be said for female solidarity in the face of male insolence, but there’s nothing wrong with celebrating a good thing when you’ve got it.
This isn’t me gloating because some guy with glasses and a ukulele melted my cold, cynical heart and taught me to believe in love again. This isn’t me gaining a well-deserved victory over other guys I’ve dated (ok, well sort of). This isn’t even the “Love Song” I told “Jeremy” I couldn’t write. This is simply a confession of my own unpreparedness to accept something good when it appeared and a means of telling others to keep looking for those seasons of joy because they’re coming. Trust me.