7 Things people don't understand about my long-term relationship
I recently wrote a piece on being with the same boyfriend since I was 14, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve gotten cute messages of support flooding in from all over the place, from people who are either in the same position or who just downright love our story. Despite this, at home in England at least, my boyfriend and I come up against a lot of the same questions and misconceptions about our relationship. The only person I know in a similar situation is my only ex-boyfriend (I have that effect on people, I guess) so while I understand people have some questions, I still don’t think it’s that strange to have fallen in love so early. I thought I’d take some time to address some of the things people usually ask about me and my boyfriend. Here are some things a lot of people just don’t seem to understand about our nine year relationship:
We didn’t do it on purpose.
A lot of people seem to think that we entered into this long-term commitment intentionally, at the young age of 14, with the goal of sticking it out for life. No, no, no. He was my best friend, and we just sort of fell into liking one another. We dated with no grand expectations of life-long romance. My primary concern at 14 was whether my friends would be in the same class as me at a new school, not holding down my boyfriend for a decade. I was very prepared for it to fizzle out around the 3-6 month mark like most teenage romances. However, month after month, and year after year, I was pleasantly surprised. We just kept making each other happy, so we stayed together.
And we are actually happy.
You could accuse me of protesting too much, but that’s the thing — people often think that we are somehow secretly unhappy, like we’re just staying together because we’re used to it by now. We aren’t. Jokes about ball-and-chain and “the wife, right?!” elicit nothing but eye rolls from the pair of us. We laugh every day, we hang out, we actually really quite like one another as people. It isn’t difficult to keep sticking around when we want to keep hanging out with one another. We have an easy, sweet time together and do fun stuff like travel, see bands we like, and explore new bars in town.
Yes — we are allowed to do things alone.
I went for dinner with a new colleague recently, and she asked me, “Won’t he mind?” We are not connected at the hip, and we are allowed to do things alone. We have different interests, and different friends. He has no time for reading or running or poetry. I have none for animation or watching Tim and Eric. While we do have things we want to do together, we haven’t become one singular person with one thought process. While we often hang out with mutual friends, there are just times when I want to go and do things alone. I go on holidays separately from him, to concerts, shopping, and more. And that’s perfectly fine — and healthy.
We still find other people attractive.
I mean, really. Your ability to see and understand that someone outside of your relationship is cute doesn’t disappear when you hit a certain point, it’s just whether you’re strong enough to not act on it. Despite this, if I ever mention that someone isn’t totally hideous or that I have a crush on some actor or other, inevitably, someone will remind me that I have a boyfriend. I do, yeah. And we talk about our little crushes together, and then don’t act on them. The healthy, monogamous, not-dead way.
Just because we have only been with one person, doesn’t mean we haven’t had experiences.
When people tell me I’ve missed out on life experience or all of the potential dudes out there, I just know I don’t want that, really. There has been no time when I’ve been unhappy enough in my relationship to leave my boyfriend for some experiences I might or might not like. Besides, I have had plenty of experience. I have friends, I’ve travelled, I have a career, I moved really far away from home. I have everything I want and I’m in love with my best friend, so I’m doing just fine.
We are in no rush to have kids or get married.
We may have been together for nine years, but we are still 23. We are babies — babies who work in creative industries. While it’s a nice thought, marriage is an incredibly, unnecessarily expensive step that I really don’t need to reassure me that my boyfriend loves me. I’d rather spend my money instead on holidays and saving for a home before worrying about one really fancy day. Kids, though, are another story entirely… a terrifying one for two people who very recently had to call a locksmith because they got drunk and left both sets of house keys inside. Those people are not ready to look after another human being.
We haven’t stopped having sex.
I mean, please. We love each other. We live together. Figure that one out and stop asking me intrusive, intimately personal questions as soon as you meet me.
Of course it’s taken a lot of work to get here, but for the most part, our situation is pretty easygoing, because we just like one another. When I get told I’ve wasted half my life, I just imagine all of the things we have done together that I would have missed had I been single or dating for all of those years. We are happy, and I see no need to jeopardize that in search of some experiences I might or might not enjoy.