One of the reasons I was happy being single was that I did not have to worry about future heartbreak. Someone once told me that the best case scenario for romantic relationships is staying together until one of you dies, and my risk-avoidant brain immediately decided it would be preferable to just stay by myself, thanks. How annoying to find myself dating someone five years older than me, so that even if we hit upon the best case scenario, odds are I’ll be the one burying her.
Yes, I am aware of my morbidity! I regularly kiss my cat’s head and tell him how sad I will be when he dies. I once sat outside and enjoyed the brisk autumn breeze by wondering how it would feel if I were a corpse and it could get to my bones.
Best case scenarios are not the only option, however. Opening myself up to loving someone and being loved in return means also opening myself up to the possibility of that love disappearing. Here I find it very unhelpful to have a counseling background. I don’t have the luxury of blind belief in our relationship being special. I know we will lose the honeymoon desperation and affection. I know that if we replace that with a deeper, committed love, we are likely to fall into the ten year pit that sinks a huge proportion of relationships. And I know that if we choose to stay together through that, there’s still a chance we will be physically together but emotionally separate.
Is now a good time to mention that we have been together for less than six months? In addition to my morbidity, I am also aware of my anxious overthinking. My tendency to plan and sub-plan will always be with me, and honestly, I’m grateful for it. My knowledge of potential future outcomes makes me eager to set up our relationship for success by having hard conversations early and establishing habits of communication and affection that will see us through rough patches. But sometimes I get stuck anticipating and preparing for the terrible thing, and it becomes all I can see.
“The terrible thing is coming, so be here now.” I heard that in a podcast referring to job failure, and it illuminated my problem. The terrible thing is coming, whether that terrible thing is breakup now or later, death now or later, dissatisfaction now or later. But the solution to the terrible thing coming is not to look over my shoulder and around every corner so that I can catch a glimpse of it. The solution is to be here now.
Something terrible will happen in my relationship with Rachel. That’s the inevitability of life. So because of that, I want to be with her, fully and in deep appreciation for what we now have. I want to laugh with her, dream with her, hold her and listen to her affirm me. What we have is good. It’s so good. When I spend my time anticipating the terrible thing, I miss what’s happening right now.
And that’s a terrible thing in itself.