Lately I've been studying my coupled-up friends, trying to dissect what exactly makes a relationship work. The cynic in me keeps coming back to the same question: What are these people giving up?
That sounds horrible, I know. And I'm sure that anyone in a good relationship will argue that the benefits of having someone there far outweigh any desire to eat cookie dough on the couch while crying to "The Notebook." But that's not what I mean.
Yes, I will admit that I am a bit of a relationship-phobe who has at times sought out men who could never be with me. (Psychology majors, take heed - I'm well aware of the mounds of therapy I will eventually need to combat this.) But I'm referring to losing a part of you in your quest to become a twosome.
What are we willing to sacrifice?
My friend's boyfriend hates going down on her. He has actually suggested that it should be saved for special occasions or when they're in the shower. He ironically (and in this sexpert's mind, wrongly) has no problem having her tend to his south-of-the-border. In the past my friend has proclaimed that getting oral is her favorite sexual act. Should she be willing to go without just because of his irrational belief?
I posed the same question to a former roommate of mine over lunch. For as long as I have known her she has been in one serious relationship or another, so it seemed logical that she'd be able to clue me in.
"You really only surrender your time," she sagely suggested, "assuming it's the right person."
I was still confused.
"But nothing about who you are as a person changed by being in such serious relationships? And you never really had to forgo much to have them work?" She put her sandwich down. "Not really."
My hunger for a satisfying answer kept growing.
Obviously, there are certain things we each want out of a relationship. I, for one, would love someone who looks like George Clooney and can cook. Perhaps, however, I need to realize that having someone who may not be skilled in the culinary arts is a reality I need to accept.
Maybe the answer really is as simple as my former roomie suggested. For those who matter, you sacrifice.
Maybe relationships work like a scale œœ when the payoff potential seems great, you give of yourself, and when the rewards seem insubstantial, you don't.
Maybe it's about forfeiting little things and putting the energy once spent on those little things into the relationship itself.
Not talking to your ex, abstaining from a girls night out and watching an action movie are all relatively easy tasks. Not receiving head? Well, it takes a bigger romantic than me.