I think a lot about relationships: about what exactly it is that brings two people together, what keeps them wanting to stay together through tough times, and what tears them from one another. I think about how there are no guarantees when it comes to love. Uttering “I do” is really nothing more than crossing your fingers, winging it and hoping for the best.
Yet as much as I’d like to believe the fire in love never dies, I don’t live my life that way. Insecurities plague me. And one of the things that stops me from getting serious with someone is the fact that I never know if he really likes me or the way I look.
I know it’s a lot of pressure to put on myself, especially at the precipice of a love affair. Many people would call me neurotic. But I don’t see it that way; I think I’m smart. I’m just trying to protect my heart.
I believe two people can fall in love. But the truth is, I don't know if I believe two people can sustain that love. People fall out of love with each other as quickly as they fall into it. Things change, common opinions grow apart and beauty fades. And then we’re left wondering what more we can do to keep the ones who’ve stayed by our side there a little longer.
I don’t want to fall in love because I'm afraid he'll cheat if I let myself go. That his dick, not his heart, will lead his way in our relationship. That as well-intended as he may be and has always been, he’ll succumb to a small yet persistent voice in his head that says, “What you have is great, but what if there’s something better in store for you?” Because let’s be honest: at some point, I will begin to let myself go.
Every love story begins the same way. You meet him. He falls in love with the young, pretty, vivacious you. Wedding bells ring, everyone sings, and it's happily ever after, right? Not necessarily. Because then, you get knocked up, you get fat in places you didn't know you could, and you contemplate the quickest way to lose the baby weight because People magazine says to do anything else is a waste of time and because your husband doesn’t look at you the same way he once did.
Maybe my hypotheticals reflect an utterly naïve way of thinking (I'm 25, so what do I know?) But what if it’s just the opposite? What if I’m being realistic by not wanting to expose myself to that kind of risk?
Of course, not every love story ends the same way. We see it all the time: Two people get married, a couple of decades pass, and you hear through the grapevine that the happily married couple split up “amicably” — at least, “amicably” is what we’re supposed to believe. But who knows if the split was amicable at all? Who’s to say the man didn’t freak out after they started a family? Who’s to say he didn’t think he could do better? That he didn’t get bored?
Maybe, once you get older, you search for that sparkle in your husband’s eye that you’re absolutely sure you’ve seen before, but you can’t find it anymore. Maybe you have crows feet and arm flab because you spend more time taking warm baths than you do at the gym. Maybe now you smell like baby powder, not like the perfume you used to spray on yourself before you left the house.
Maybe the attraction that brought you and your husband together is replaced by a hesitant acceptance in the form of complacency. An “Oh, well this is just life, so this is what I should get used to” kind of thing.
It’s depressing, it’s disheartening, and it makes me question the worst: What if I become victim to my future husband’s wandering eye? What if I was once good enough, but no longer am? And how can I see the beauty in me when he no longer does?
I already do this thing where I wait until the guy I’m seeing is invested enough in my personality before I let him see me without makeup. It may sound crazy, but it’s my little shield. Maybe I’ve just been with too many guys who spend their subway rides staring at the girl sitting across from them in booty shorts instead of talking to me.
Or maybe I should stop being such a damn surveyor of my surroundings, so hyper-aware that I create problems where there might not have even been any.
I know this can't just be a “me” problem. It's got to be a “woman” problem. Even if you are in a healthy relationship with the guy of your dreams (bless you), you can’t tell me there isn’t some teeny-tiny part of you who thinks the same things.
I want the man I choose to forget what he sees and remember what he says. I want him to fall in love with the way I laugh, not the way I dress. I want him to keep in mind that I am beautiful. But beauty is fleeting, and who I am at my core will never fade away. I want him to reminisce on how we were when we were young, but not let that keep him from who we could be together as we grow old.
I can only hope that one day, I’ll meet someone who will fall so much in love with who I am on the inside that he’ll eventually forget what’s even on the outside.
This isn’t only my wish for myself; it’s my wish for all the wives, mothers and hopeless romantics in this world.
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