When you think about Disney movies like Frozen and Maleficent and compare it to the sweet, trusting innocence of, say, The Little Mermaid, you may find yourself asking ‘So WTF happened here?’ Throw in all these zombie movies, Breaking Bad, and How I Met Your Mother and you might get that slow, sinking feeling that society is getting rid of True Love: The 80’s Way.
What do I mean? I was born in the 80s. During the era of cassette tapes, L.A Gear, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas, love was pursued in a different way, it seems. You meet someone in class. You decide you’re attracted to his smile, the awkward way he delivers un-funny Star Wars lines, the stupid way he tucks his flannel in. Depending on how far apart you are in your immediate social sphere, you hook up. For three years. Then after that, since it seems that you were ‘meant’ to be together and since it seems like it’s true love, you pledge your undying love and loyalty and in front of family and friends, get unbearably drunk, have three kids, get a house and proceed to making DIY-ed clothes for your cute babies.
Now, you hardly hear the word true love anymore. Scores of online articles and published scientific papers are trying their best to debunk this long-standing concept, saying that you can fall in love with anyone at any time as long as it’s the right time and as long as it’s convenient for both parties to do so. That rising belief is reflected in movies, in songs, even in books. I mean, come on, think of a movie shown anytime from 2010 to 2014 that can top the utter despondence of Neil Jordan’s The End of the Affair. Yeah. I’d like some house tea with that cynical thought, please.
Adults who were born in the 80’s are becoming more logical, more straightforward about what we want, simply because we are moving faster than we ever needed to. Information at the blink of an eye; all that you would ever need is literally just a touch away. That’s kind of scary for folks like me, who find themselves awake and half-past 30, who suddenly need to worry about whether or not we’re taking enough selfies and how good our arugula salad looks on Instagram. I mean, we’re the generation that has crossed over from the authenticity and simplicity of peanut butter and jelly Sundays to reality TV and droids. And I bet that more often than not, single women nowadays wonder- in the middle of a screwy presentation to a major client, while crossing the street, right before a truly stellar Krav Maga move– if ‘the one’ still does exist.
Well, I, and maybe 60% of the population, believe so. That’s why the international online dating industry is a $2 billion-a-year money-making machine. So the search is still as real (maybe) as it was in the 80s, it’s just that now it’s in high-speed, Core 2 mode. We still buy into the possibility of finding that person who fits you perfectly, every day of the week. That one constant thing in a world that is ever changing. There is comfort in that thought.
Personally, I think there isn’t a universal guideline, you know. Love isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. However, in my 30 years of existence, I have found that there are non-negotiables, certain things that can bridge the gap between loving in the 80’s and finding the one in glorious 2015.
So here is my condensed list of the Top 5 signs that you’ve found the right one in 2015:
1. You can trust her.
This is non-negotiable. She isn’t the type of person who you can leave with your boys but not with Grandma. You can trust her with your life, simply put. She does not go snooping around behind your back (Well, you say, how would I know since it’s all done behind my back? You’d know, Junior. Oh yes, you’d know). You can expect her to be blunt with you but not hurtful. You know her to be considerate but not momma-ish. You can probably tell her most of your deepest, darkest secrets and she refrains from judging you until you’re both 50 and there’s nowhere else to go.
Seriously though, trust is my number one thing. Everyone has a thing, you know. That one insurmountable fact about yourself that gets you all tangled up or sorted through. I think for at least 80% of the sane populace, trust would make it to that coveted spot. I guess my 8-year old niece said it best when she said, “Trust is when you don’t give her your mints and she still talks to you at recess.” ‘Nuf said.
2. She makes you want be a great person.
The lay-it-all-out phase happens to even the best of us. This is that happy time when both of you are so set and so in sync with each other that you are tempted to not bother anymore. You even wallow in it like a jumpy little pup for a few months maybe. Depending on how horrid you feel. If you’ve lived together or are seeing each other for quite some time, you might be found sporting all or being at least one of these things:
- The Relationship Paunch – This is the very noticeable, irreversible sighting of a small, and dare I say cute pouch-like formation in your middle area. It’s a sad day when you look in the mirror one morning and notice this. Remember, it is never anyone’s fault. But it will, hopefully, heal with time and wisdom and a steady diet of saltine crackers.
- The Bedhead – Let me make it very clear that this isn’t your usual Volumizer 2.9-enhanced masterpiece. This is the fact that you have jumped out of bed and straight into an office-suit. You’ve been doing this for an entire month. No, you don’t hate yourself and aren’t particularly unhappy. You’re just in love. With one special person. And you don’t care about anyone else seeing you ‘in a romantic way’.
- The Plasma Effect – You are in the house then out of the house in rapid speed. As if you suddenly can’t bear all of life outside it. If he’s not in it, I won’t stay. If she’s not going, then I won’t. You say and do things together forever and for always until you are one. Creepy but it happens!
Everyone who has ever been in a long, meaningful relationship has gone through all that. For me though, if the person is right for you, s/he will keep all these things from progressing to Stage 2: Catatonia. Someone who genuinely cares for you cares about your health, about how you look especially in a professional setting, and cares about whatever else you need to do to become a better individual. I figure, this should also be a mutual feeling. If you’re right for another person, you’d always want to be the best possible version of you for him or her. Sounds ideal, and yeah, it is truly romantic to act all despondent and lost and consistently pinning for another. But romance stops. Romance just heads on out when things get real and rough and hurtful. So go with a person who cares and recognizes that you are one cool individual who is worthy of concern and a good hairbrush.
3. She makes you feel strong but makes it okay to not be all the time.
Okay so I’m cheating. This third bullet is totally connected to the first one- without that, this would not exist. Everyone has rough days. Everyone experiences high times. To have one person beside you through both those times is the dream. Again, ‘nuf said.
4. She doesn’t love everything about you.
This is where I go all Maleficent on your pretty face. She doesn’t love everything about you. Whoever says they do is either talking about the perfection that is Ryan Gosling or is referring to the wonderful mating habits of clams. She will not love everyone in your family. She will not easily take to your yodeling lessons. But if she’s the right person, she will always try to see the best things in you. Even when you change, or even when she does. Trust that she will love you inspite of the stuff she doesn’t care about. If you’re really lucky, she’ll even try to do some of the things she doesn’t care about just because you do. Don’t push it but always hope for it and smile when it happens.
5. The right person is a chore to love.
Old folks who have gone the distance know this to be true. The right person is hard work. I don’t mean that she would always expect you to go the extra mile or will pressure you to do things that are ridiculously far-fetched. What I mean is, if someone makes the decision to love you, you’ll have that feeling that she’ll always be there for you, especially through the most hellish of seasons. She might not always understand you, she might even take a breather at particularly difficult times but you know that she won’t be too far away. My grandma used to tell me that loving is an everyday thing. It is very possible that the person who chooses to love you wakes up one day and feels a waning, a roadblock. Her ability to fight against that feeling and her capacity to be able to decide again to choose you over and over, day in and day out is what everyone needs to watch out for.
My best relationship is with someone who has seen me at my absolute worst. I gained 66 lbs, seemingly overnight. By now, he already knows that I don’t really like artsy stuff and can live on watching reruns of America’s Top Model. I hate his mother’s guts and she hates mine, too. He witnessed that day when I was so frustrated with our one year old child and I sat down and bawled my eyes out until snot came out of my nose. Very attractive, for sho’.
This person broke up with me once, years ago and said that he loved me but there were things that he had to fix about himself, issues that he was never ready to share with me. I named that time B.L, or before our Luna came into the picture. It took him months to come back, long enough for all my girlfriends to hate him and block him on Facebook. Yes, I wavered. Yes, there were lots of days when I felt like I had to move on and get that hottest rebound relationship going. But I waited. I waited because I trusted him. I waited because I wanted the best for him. I waited because I couldn’t imagine being happy or being dejected without him. I waited because, in spite of all the things he believed he was, I knew him to be a really great person. I waited because he was a decision that I chose to make every day, all that time that everyone else said that I had nothing to hope for.
Also, I waited because I am a child of the 80’s. I sang along to Peter Gabriel’s song in Say Anything. I cried with Meg Ryan in When a Man Loves a Woman. I hoped the way they did in The End of the Affair. I guess for me, you’ll always be someone’s Heathcliff. Someone’s stubborn, constant decision.
After a full year, he came back. Carefully, he relayed most of the experiences he had, the resolutions he made. Some mattered to me and some didn’t. What’s important was that I was right, that despite the many concepts and facts that separate the 80’s from where we are now, there is still someone worth holding up that big ass radio for.