My girlfriend and I are in the kind of long-term relationship that makes people angry and nauseous. We’re the kind of couple who will decide at any given moment that, yes, this is a good time for me to pick her up and walk around holding her while giving her kisses. We’re the people who mope and moan when we’re apart for too long. You might say we’re the best people ever who everyone wants to be. Why should so many struggle with relationships, trying and failing to forge a meaningful connection when others, like us, get the easy way?
Well listen up son, because I’ma drop some science all up on you: there is no easy way. Gasp! Shocking I know. The fact is, no matter who you’re with, no matter how hard you try, no matter how sure you are that the universe is aligning to make sure you two are thrust together in perfect harmonious union, you will, on a regular basis, feel rage unbridled toward your loved one that burns more ferociously than…well, something really ferocious.
Why is this? I mean, if this is going to happen, what’s the point of relationships? This goes even beyond romantic ones. The reason, friends, is simple: people are idiots. You are an idiot. I am an idiot. All of your friends and family are idiots, all of my friends and family are idiots. We are self-involved, often misunderstand and misread, hold grudges, take hostility out on undeserving bystanders, fail to clearly articulate our feelings, hold others to impossible standards, etc. I’m not trying to be a misanthrope here (at least not very much), I mean, humans are capable of some of the most stunningly beautiful things in the world. Just don’t get any illusions. You very well may meet your true love, someone you fall desperately in love with. That’s all very nice. But what I can guarantee is that you will, at some point, think that he/she is the densest, meanest, most inconsiderate person in the world. And they’ll feel the same about you because, well, you are. It’s not your fault! You’re not a bad person! You didn’t mean it!
Despite all of this horrible pessimism about how you’ll eventually hate everyone in the world, relationships can and do work past these problems. Many pass over them without solving them, building up lasting resentment, doing no one any favors. What needs to be done? Well, for one, that massively flawed and unintuitive tool, language, that which probably caused the conflict in the first place, needs to be dusted off again. If you want to solve your conflicts, you have to try hard to drain your voice of accusation, self-pity, resentment, volume, all of those little nuances that do nothing but corrode. But mostly, you have to realize, I am probably wrong. I’m not advocating self-effacement, here.
Sometimes you will be right—but not all the time. Also, your partner is probably wrong, too! We all are! Arguments will be resolved much faster if you honestly analyze yourself, with as little bias as possible, and realize how little what you’re arguing for matters. Don’t feel bad about it. After all, no one really knows anything. Humanity has spent millennia just winging it, and we’ve done pretty well so far. So what if we’re not as smart as we think we are—it isn’t like there’s a whole lot of competition. So don’t expect perfection. You’ll never find it. Accept your limitations and realize that, despite both of your flaws, you’re in love. Maybe it won’t work out, but I certainly find that it helps.