I have had epic crushes. These crushes of mine, as many girls might know, were characterized by a disproportionate amount of time spent thinking about a particular boy. All of these epochal crushes resulted, sooner or later, in the boy discovering the dramatic secret. But they were never informed through the grapevine, oh no. Rather, the messenger was me, face-to-face and heart all aflutter every time.
My plans were altered when my best friend of eight years was abruptly cut loose by her boyfriend. He cited a “change of feelings” as the cause of their breakup.
I think people are afraid of people. It sounds weird only because we don’t typically diagnose it as fear. But if we take some of our greatest ones — bad first impressions, feeling out of place, being judged — it all comes down to this strange, unacknowledged fear of other people. Perhaps with all the unknowns in this universe and beyond, the ones inside ourselves are the scariest.
The outside expectations by which we judge ourselves are thus often self-imposed. No doubt they stress us out. Yet we tend to place values on ourselves through our success or failure in fulfilling them. We have to become a household name after graduating because that’s what our family thinks is success. We have to be environmentally sustainable because that’s what a good global citizen is. We have to be constantly conversational because otherwise we’re being “antisocial” (which has apparently become a minor crime). Or we have to be the funny/intellectual/organized/nonchalant/insightful one among our friends, even if we’ve outgrown the title and it’s starting to get tiresome.
Whether or not we like the numbers, time is exact. It coordinates global markets, unravels histories and guides social schedules. It predicts what people halfway around the globe are doing at any given moment and might be one of the smallest binders of the most people at once. Time keeps us on track with the world, so most of us get on track early on.
Unfortunately, the sudden and unilateral way that relationships shift gears is generally a more pessimistic story. Sometimes we’re the culprits: qualities we once found attractive can turn repulsive, and first-date high notes can be hijacked by hokiness. So we attempt to slyly exit scene. It’s like the book that loses its magic: the words never changed, but you find yourself wondering what you found so interesting in the first place.
Our beliefs aren’t so innocuous anymore. They’re now bigger; they have bigger words and they have bigger scope. We carry them with us but follow them to their consequences. They’re one of the few personal characteristics that divide us with our consent. Even those who don’t regularly self-reflect will face the result of conflicting ideas — a supposedly inexplicable break-up, maybe, or the frustrating distancing of a friend. After the “hello” and “what’s up,” what we choose to believe for ourselves is what determines the potential of our relationships.
Unsure of how to classify your quasi-relationship when your hookup sits you down to DTR? Try one of Roxy’s animal metaphor terms (patent pending) to perfectly encapsulate the expectations and tendencies of your protracted liaison.