Sunday, July 21, 2013

Turning point

Celine had been floating on a little cloud for the last couple of months. She had a new man in her life -- and it was bliss. Everything seemed to fit right where it was supposed to: she had come to a point where she knew precisely who she was, where she was heading and what she desired. So when this striking, pleasant young man entered her life -- of course in the most unexpected, romantic fashion -- she was amazed yet unsurprisingly persuaded that, as the book always professes, it must be happening for a reason. Done with petty things and at peace with the ghosts of her past, she knew that when that kind of wind came blowing in, she would open up again and give it a chance; despite how majestically big the high walls around her heart had become. Moreover, it was palpable, at least to her, that if she were ready to embark into a new romance at last, it would be a more even-tempered, grown-up relationship than she had had before and thankfully, he appeared to agree with that specific criteria: both living very independent lives, she was elated to take things slowly, taking the proper time to get to know each other, and  though they did not spend every waking moment together, as one would usually presume of new lovers, it was remarkably alleviating to be reminded that, every day, she was on his mind and he was on hers. Celine was happy.

But as it always is, everything is smooth-sailing until it crumbles. Because no matter how confident Celine was -- not about him, not about the growing relationship; but about herself and her terms -- ; she did not bargain on the irrefutable possibility -- rather, reality --  that she could be starting to develop deeper feelings. Mind that it is not that she did not expect for that to happen; but she did not anticipate that turmoil to happen so soon -- whatever that means. Obviously, she was conscious that there can only be two alternatives the more time passes: you either bid farewell or you are keen on making more room for a person. Nevertheless, although visibly more inclined for the latter, she appreciated the slow part of it all, she found the turtle steps soothing -- and so did he. Yet like an unforeseen change in the wind, as soon as she realized that she missed him terribly after only days apart, once the epiphany that she was on the verge of also telling him that, she suddenly plunged into a sea of queries that no best friend advice could comfort.  It was clear she got one foot in already; however, she was still, irrevocably on her guard. And it was breaking down. All at once doubting his intentions, immediately desperate to find out what he could be thinking as well -- she began to cross-examine every little detail. Confusion. Unrest. Tumult. The works. All in her head, undoubtedly.  

Even so, she felt in her bones that it was too early to bring out the big guns -- or as it is universally known -- sit the coveted one down and have 'the talk'. Yeah, that talk. Are we casual? Are we serious? Are we exclusive? Are we official? Are you my boyfriend and am I your girlfriend? She herself did not aspire, at all, to go down that road. Indeed, Celine wondered, why go into that serious stuff and not just let things run their course, as she had initially planned, if or when it has to without automatically putting a label on it? On top of that, even if she sensed like she could invest in him more and more as time bound them closer; getting ideas such as making plans for a weekend away, introducing him to family and friends or giving him a gift from her most recent holiday, wasn't it too early at that stage of the relationship? Celine was positive. It was too early to make plans for a weekend away. It was too early to introduce him to family and friends. It was too early to give him a gift that comes from the heart. It was all too early. But she could not erase the thought that, as of that instant, she actually fancied doing all those things -- preferably in the near future. Was she on the right track or was she skipping steps? Was this judgment call way too early? Finally, and more importantly, she started to ponder: when is the right time, if there is one, to tell someone new what you feel? 

Seeking insight, Celine spoke to every possible person who could have an answer to that question and as it turns out, each person on the face of the earth has an opinion. Clearly. And as predicted, this is the type of universal phenomenon that remains, quite frankly, a matter of personal experience. Every couple is completely different, it even differs from culture to culture: some think that passing the three-date phase implies mutual understanding already, some reckon that first sex will suggest couple status and others believe that it is the exchanging of "I love you's" that is the ultimate proof. Demanding exclusivity i.e. having the talk about how serious one is about someone ranges from the first date to... this unlimited time frame. In fairness, then, how can one ever recognize when it is alright to talk about the future in the present?

It is easy to agree that dating has never been as complex as today. There are more definitions -- or rather, non-definitions --  than one can list when it comes to two people 'seeing each other'. The established categories have become unclear: it is not single, in a relationship, married or divorced anymore. Even Facebook has provided the "It's complicated" status just to confirm the difficulty of the matter. People can date more than one person at once, people have sex without being in a relationship, people are in a relationship without having sex, people love each other but are not considered in a relationship, and so one and so forth. Besides, it has even become socially acceptable (common, to say the least) for friends to cross that line from a platonic affair to a physical one. And once asked about his/her dating life, it is not a surprise that "I have absolutely no idea" is the given response. No wonder that falling back to old school practices i.e. explicit categorization is what people need the most in these modern times. Thus, as a consequence, the fear of telling someone that you have fallen for them and you want to take it to the next step has become impossible to handle. Quintessentially, the formula of relationships these days is tricky, ergo, the formula of ideal timing for 'the talk' is trickier. In point of fact, "the game of love is complicated, but love is not complicated" ( has never been truer.

Evidently, one understands that falling in love -- timeless as ever -- has always come with mind(and heart)-boggling risks. But because of this modern take on relationships, both men and women have the hardest time to explain to someone that they want more out of a relationship... or at the minimum, label their relationship. The fact that the number of commitophobes is extremely high nowadays as well does not help one bit and the last thing one wants to do is scare someone away with the potential implications of those gigantic three little words. The debate is, have people always been afraid of opening their heart anyway or, pragmatically, have people grown more afraid because of the pseudo tendencies of recent times? Having 'the talk' is a debacle, a bomb, a weapon of mass destruction, the most frightening thing that exists. And even if one has been feeling more lovely than s/he cares to admit, saying it genuinely feels like entering a warzone. So one hesitates, one puts it off, one conceals it. Once again, the fact that the right time to have 'the talk' is practically indefinable makes the experience what one admonishes the most.

But truth of the matter is that not a single thing or person defines the couple unless the two parties finally talk about it. Honestly, mentioning serious business the first week in could be a tad bit early, but after two months, like in Celine's case, is it really still too early? The thing is, if one detects that his/heart has cracked open, there is a irrefutable possibility -- rather, reality -- that it will crack open even more; the more time passes, the more time bounds two people closer, one should grasp which direction it is supposed to go. And there is that turning point; that beautiful, horrible point when you start being more like yourself rather than the best version of yourself with someone. The ugly emerges as much as the finest part. The first steps of dating are fun and easygoing, but the real deal is the ride that takes one's breath away. So regardless of how slow you advance in the relationship -- and the slower, the better one must admit --  love gives the feeling of living in the fast lane. Celine had come to a point in her life where she knew precisely who she was, where she was heading and what she desired. And she discovered, after weeks of bliss, that she was willing to take that leap of faith. It destabilized her to the core -- because as Carrie Bradshaw asserts in Sex and the City, "even the most together woman can't keep it together when it comes to love, because just below the surface, we're all raw and exposed." Truth is -- and people do not let themselves to -- it is perfectly alright, no matter the timing, to feel that vulnerable.  In the end, the only question left is whether the other person feels the same way, wants the same thing out of a relationship and ultimately, will put the same label as you do. So it is inevitable to have the talk, it is fixed that two people spending quality time together will eventually discuss the future in the present... because you want to build mountains out of pebbles. And it is better to know now, early on, sooner...  rather than later.