It’s a good kick in the ass when you realise that a relationship is not a rolling montage of affection and flowers. Pre-conceived notions of love are thrown out of the window early on, usually the first time one of you first farts. You look at each other differently from that point.
For me, discovering myself in a relationship proved difficult. Slotting into the ease of coupledom was not my forte. I struggled to extract myself from the single life I had grown accustomed to. Trying to understand that there was this other person that cared, would not register in my brain. It took me months to understand the concept of the ‘got home safe’ text.
But I grew and I learned.
I learned that time management was redundant. Hours were minutes and minutes were seconds. Before the relationship, I had time to meet friends and look at the birds. Before the boyfriend, I was out on the tiles every weekend. My only stable relationship was with my chicken burger at the end of the night. It was good, and I loved it. But times change and so do you. Life became different, good different.
After a certain point, the mask came down and my true self-emerged. Bra whipped off, Sudocream on my face and hair like a birds nest. It’s hard for women to let that guard down. To show a person the uncovered and raw version of yourself is a big step.
The start of my relationship was like a hibernation. We both consumed food like some eternal winter was on its way. Our lives revolved around breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, supper and five snacks. God knows where we found the time to talk because we were both too busy stuffing our faces with cheese. My relationship foundation was built upon McDonald’s and the trusty caramel sundae (RIP), and dining continues to be at the epicenter of our connection.
In the first year you learn that differences in interests, hobbies and even food will not determine your relationships fate. Morals and humour are the backbones of partnerships. I have, unashamedly, peed a little while laughing at and with him. He seems to get a good kick out of me too, making our interactions all the more joyful. Even though we eat constantly, he is a notoriously picky eater- I am not. He hates sauces, and I love them, so much so that I have been known to eat ketchup with a fork. Naturally, he is disgusted. But these details are inconsequential. If he won’t eat the sauce, I will.
In the first year, you live in a constant fear of pregnancy. You think that if you glance at him, it may make you pregnant. You cough and you think “Yes that’s it, that’s pregnancy”. Birth control, bar, the coil - it does not matter. The fear will find its way to you, and you will ring your friend in a panic, crying that there has been a conception. The friend will tell you that there obviously has not, but this is your first proper relationship, you’re 23, nervous and naïve to the ways of the world.
They say your twenties are selfish years. Think and do for yourself. Don’t tie yourself down. Travel with no shoes and just a toothbrush and discover the real world. It seemed the universe was telling me to remain single. I had found romance at the wrong age and stage of my life, because being alone suits youth. I felt envious of my friends, going on holidays and spontaneous nights out when I was eating chips with him.
But, I learned that balance is key. This whole new person plopped themselves in a space in my life that I didn’t know was there. I snort and laugh and smile every day. I feel fuzzy, content and calm. He continues to give me strange looks as I eat ketchup with a fork, but I would never want it to change.
Here's to year two.