The Ex-Girlfriend Speaks Up
Yes, folks, here she is. The inspiration for countless posts, the coiner of the term Sneak-a-Date, and clearly the person with the smallest ego on this blog. The one, the only, Katie!
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.
Wait, which Katie is this? You’re both Katie M.’s, ya know. Well, you didn’t use to be…. 😉
Bah. Thanks, anyway, for the post.
I completely agree with this. It doesn’t *seem* like work if it’s right.
Ha! That was a lesson it took me a long time to learn. That it doesn’t HAVE to be hard!
Wait… that sounds dirty.
Edit: *it doesn’t have to be DIFFICULT.
“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?”
Wow, you just defined me. I’m full of questions. I’m always unsure. This post has inspired me to look for this in my life … it shouldn’t be so hard. Thank you for the reminder. Because after years and years of everything being so damned hard (and just brief moments, months of it not being hard, only to go back to hard times as though that were the norm) I really needed a reminder that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Hi Katie! Great to have you on board! And look forward to hearing some Dennis dirt. Although I guess the biggest diss is that you married someone else and now imply that Dennis was part of the turmoil of your past. Ha ha.
Now, I am definitely of the philosophy that finding the right person is not as hard as it seems. “When you know, you know,” I always say.
But someday you will flip out about those flip flops. Wouldn’t it be easier if he just moved them before it festers into the biggest fight of your marriage? Just because it feels right, and easy, doesn’t mean it doesn’t still require a bit of effort!
@ Rebecca: I suppose it doesn’t have to be difficult *or* hard, depending on what exactly you’re doing.
@ Catherine: Definitely get a goldfish.
No, but also, glad to know this was a helpful reminder for someone. If I could give one piece of dating advice to my unmarried, younger self (which, weirdly, you can do in this odd LA art project called The Wilderness Downtown, check it out online) it would definitely be to abort! abort! those way-too-difficult relationships.
@ Jasmine: I’m working on the flip flops. We’ve already made a lot of progress with the wet towels on the floor…they’re now landing on the bed, and sometimes even the towel rack. And to Dennis’ credit, our turmoil was not caused by his untidiness. He is almost as crazy as me in the clean department.
@Katie – Great article. I feel like you summed up my awesome, yet rather boring relationship I have with my husband. (Boring in that we don’t have colossal fights or do things that are Hollywood romantic, but awesome in that he’s awesome).
When you jive, things are easier.
Love the article. It reaffirms the theory that when you have more in common, and obviously when there’s chemistry, even the work in a relationship doesn’t seem like a chore. It’s something you do knowing you’ll get through it and come out better for it.
Sigh, I want boring.
Hmm, have I made a bad case for good relationships here? “Boring” just sounds so…boring. Even if its opposite isn’t so awesome, either.
You want boring? She should have mentioned her old college roommate and her boyfriend. Now they were boring.
Great insight, Katie. Funny too. Those last three lines are going to stick with me for a while. Thanks for the message of hope for those of us who haven’t quite gotten to the easy/amazing stuff yet.
That last comment was me…oops on the anonymous thing
The last comment was me…didn’t mean it to be anonymous – oops
Brian…maybe now they are a happily boring couple, but I don’t think they’re relationship was always so easy and boring in the beginning…It’s been awhile though.
Ummm… so is it bad that I just noticed that you indirectly said I had a big ego? Hmmm… I know it to be true, and yet, I take offense! Quite the connundrum.
Let’s call it “confidence,” shall we?
Alright… I’ll let you have that one!