The Ex-Girlfriend Speaks Up
Except, I guess technically with Dennis, there were two Katies. Anyway. I was the first, and I think that should count for something.
Now, I realize that all of you are probably salivating for some salacious gossip from the gal who’s seen Dennis without his shirt or the rest of his clothes. But, I’m saving that for a future post (see how I cleverly lure you into reading me again?) and instead starting with the end–with the part where I find my perfect match, fall madly in love, and walk down the aisle in a charming white dress.
It’s a really boring story.
No seriously, it is. From the standard first-date pasta dinner at an oh-so-moderately priced restaurant, to the follow-up phone call precisely three days later, the whole thing was fraught with a by-the-book dating tranquility that you’d expect to find only in, well, books.
Although, before you get the wrong impression, I should mention that, for our honeymoon, we ran with the bulls in Pamplona. We are not always dull. Nor are we always wise….
Anyway, before all of this serenity hit, I admit my dating life was not what you would call, in a technical sense, sane. It was full of questionable hook-ups, midnight rendezvous, and tangled on-again, off-again relationships overlapping so frequently that even I occasionally lost track of whom I was dating that week.
The stable relationships had their turmoil, too. When I was in them, I found myself asking a never-ending series of questions: Is this the right person for me? Should we move in together? Get married? Get a goldfish? I used to think that this kind of commotion was just part of being with someone. After all, people always said good relationships were hard work.
If only I had understood then that people are mostly clueless, and if you listen to everything they say, you will inevitably end up doing something ridiculous, like consuming only grapefruit juice and cayenne pepper for three weeks in the hopes that it will somehow give your colon miraculous, superhero-type abilities. Instead, it took years of dating chaos before I met my now-husband and finally understood what I’d been missing all that time:
It’s not that hard.
To be clear, I’m not saying a good relationship doesn’t take effort. But I’ve discovered that in a good relationship, the effort feels easy enough that you forget it’s “work.” I imagine it’s something like the way Google employees feel when they wake up and head to their offices full of bean-bag chairs and personal masseuses.
So all that arguing over how she treats your friends, or why his mom is an ogre, or how many tines there are on a salad fork? They’re just signs that you’re not with the right person. As my husband likes to explain, when you find the one you’re meant to be with, you just stop caring about the little things that used to annoy you about other people, because “everything else is so perfect.”
Aw. Isn’t he so sweet that it just makes you want to puke daisies and cotton candy?
He’s right, though. If anyone else in my house threw their dirty gym clothes on the kitchen counter or regularly placed empty cereal boxes back in the pantry instead of in the recycling bin, I would feel moved to destroy them immediately with the blunt end of the most handy appliance. Yet somehow, with Kevin, even the way he carefully puts his flip-flops right in the center of the doorway for me to trip over every morning as I leave for work is charming.
It has not been this way with other men. Trust me, they have the scars to prove it.
And it isn’t just the lack of verbal–or physical–combat. With the other people I dated, I was never quite sure we were right together, no matter how many years our relationship staggered along. I tried to ignore it, or blame it on some kind of chronic undiagnosed dissatisfaction syndrome. Perhaps you’re smart enough to recognize it for what it was: plain old denial.
But that didn’t stop me from being skeptical of supposedly “easy” relationships. I looked at those annoying couples who just oozed romantic harmony and thought, “yeah, but I bet that when they go home, they do really hideous things to each other, like hide the other person’s shoes in the garbage disposal.”
I was wrong.
It only took three dates for me to be certain I should marry Kevin, and five years later, there still aren’t any mangled shoes in our sink. I never used to believe it, but sometimes, it really is that simple.
I know the whole idea that good relationships are painless might seem like bad news for all the drama kings and queens out there. Yes, I know we all like that shouting, and intrigue, and heated make-up sex. There’s nothing wrong with that, for a while.
But don’t hang on to the turmoil forever like I did, thinking there’s never going to be anything better. Because there is.
And it’s easy.