Ah, that time of year… the time of year where my pockets are completely empty thanks to Christmas, New Years, my girlfriends birthday (this year was 30 you guys!!!), our anniversary AND Valentines Day. And did I mention this year I’m unemployed?
So anyway. On top of the usual madness that accompanies this time of year, this anniversary was our 10th. TENTH! I’m still in shock that we’ve been together 10 years, I mean that’s just about 1/3 of my life! To celebrate, we went for dinner in a rather lovely place (The Rustic Stone, in Dublin, if anyone’s interested…) and then on to watch the ever fabulous and gorgeous Panti Bliss in action. You might have heard of her?
While we were there (in our pre-booked front row seats!) I was invited up on stage, to play Pictionary with the glorious Panti. Now, I suck at Pictionary, so I didn’t win BUT I did get a hug, and she sat on my knee TWICE so I feel like the real winner. I also got to announce that it was our 10 year anniversary, and after the performances finished, a great number of people came up to us and congratulated us, which was just lovely. I hadn’t really thought about it being such a big deal, being 10 years together. I mean, I love her, and she loves me, so of course we stayed together. But listening to people tell us it was “an inspiration” to see a couple happily together after 10 years made me realise- this is a heck of an achievement! And one that kinda flies in the face of the “gay people can’t commit” and “they’re not real relationships” arguments.
So you know what, I thought, let’s have a think about how we managed it. We’ve managed to get past multiple long distance stints (the China- Dublin time difference is no laughing matter, people!), being completely broke students, battling depression, cancer scares, coming out to our families… and more besides! And of course it being the run up to Valentines Day… what better timing than to share some “pearls of wisdom*” that might help? Some you’ll recognise, some might surprise you…
(*NB: these pearls of wisdom are not pearls. They’re mostly really f*cking obvious rocks which in all fairness you should have well copped onto by a few years in. But hey, it takes some of us a while to catch on…)
You guys, I can’t stress this enough. If you can’t talk to the person you’re with, well… it won’t end well. If you’re scared to talk about something that’s bothering you, it’s not a good sign. Nerves are fine. Waiting for an appropriate time is fine (pro tip: grocery shopping is not an appropriate time to talk about a recent fantasy you had, even if the cucumbers make you remember it). Being a bit scared you’ll say something dumb is ok- I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a horrible conversation with a loved one that made you cringe so hard you pulled a muscle. And if you’re REALLY not good at bringing up awkward topics, create a code for it. If you know you’re about to bring up something serious or a bit out of left field, preface it with a pre-arranged “safe word”. Like BDSM but for feelings. It takes the sting out.
2) Dislike each other
Now, I know, I know. If you were to believe half the crap out there, you’d think stuff like “Learn to love each others faults”. I call bullsh*t. Nobody can like someone ALL the time. I don’t even like MYSELF all the time! There is no way in hell I’m ever going to love all my girlfriends faults. Snoring like a dumper truck? Leaving half empty Coke cans all over the place? A seeming unending obsession with Pinterest? No. But I have learned that some things will never change, and I better just deal with it. Just like she has to deal with my bizarre habit of collecting hair pomade like I’ll never be able to get more ever again. Or my skill at stealing 90% of the bed cover EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. And there are times when you just have to say “you know what? You’re really irritating me right now. I’m going to go for a coffee outside because if I look at you much longer today I might smother you in your sleep tonight”. Weirdly, it’s not personal.
3) Find out what romance ACTUALLY means to the other person.
For a good few years, I used to randomly turn up with flowers. And jewellery. And make mix-tapes. (well, CD’s if we’re being pedantic!). And I thought that was what romance was. Doing the stuff that Hugh Grant or someone would do, because that’s what I thought romance was. Until I actually asked her what was romantic. Turns out, playing Guitar Hero and letting her win was romantic. Turns out, I didn’t need to buy flowers, but I could buy her craft supplies and spend an evening painting shot glasses. And I know I find it romantic as hell when she drives me out to the beach, because she knows I need air. And when she bundles herself up in a massive coat to come on a walk even though she’d much rather be drinking coffee in Starbucks. Don’t assume you need to buy everything pink and heart shaped to show someone you love them.
Because seriously, laughing is sexy and real. Especially if you can laugh in bed. Maybe because you fell over doing a striptease? (Not that that ever happened to me, mind…)
5) Move in together twice.
Ok, this one is a bit weird, I grant you. But hear me out. We moved in together about 4 years in to our relationship- and in many ways it was a bit of a disaster. We were relatively young, I had some major family concerns… there were just a lot of things happening. So once our lease was up after 1 year, we moved out, separately. We stayed together as a couple, and I honestly think it helped us understand the types of people we are. We have since moved back in together again and we know what we need now. Time together, time apart, out own space and we know what we have to do to make life a bit easier for the other person. I think often women (and I do think many females are like this) want to rush in, head first. There’s a reason the lesbian U-Haul joke exists!
I don’t see the reason to rush things- if you’re going to stay together, you will be able to without living together at the beginning. What’s waiting a year or two in the grand scheme of things?
I could go on and on and on, but that’d just be me loving the sound of my own voice. Do any of you have any tips? Anything I’ve written that you reckon is complete rubbish? Let me know in the comments!!!
Stay dapper, and in love with someone (especially yourself!).