Back in 2019, I wrote an article that struck a chord with many of our readers:
I was eight months into a relationship at the time, and both hopeful and hesitant about whether it would last.
You see, up until then, my adult dating history consisted entirely of relationships that either started out fast and furious (and flamed out just as quickly) or slow and stifled (and fizzed out when neither person was fully able to open up).
But this connection felt different.
He showed up. He was consistent. He was clear about what we wanted. He wasn’t playing games. He was the opposite of pretty much every guy I’d ever dated.
As the months went by, I found myself wondering—with increasingly more hope than hesitance—what a future would look like with this person. And I kept coming back to a quote from the 1968 Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda movie “Yours, Mine and Ours.”
“It’s giving life that counts. Until you’re ready for it, all the rest is just a big fraud. All the crazy haircuts in the world won’t keep it turning. Life isn’t a love in, it’s the dishes and the orthodontist and the shoe repairman and… ground round instead of roast beef. And I’ll tell you something else: it isn’t going to a bed with a man that proves you’re in love with him; it’s getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful everyday world with him that counts.”
I’m now inching closer to five years into my relationship with this bold, charming, kind, consistent, intelligent, infuriating human and have the privilege of “getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful everyday world with him.”
And with every day that I spend walking deeper and deeper into life with him, I’ve realized that my definition of the kind of relationship I hope to build is evolving. The same way we have both evolved over the years. The same way our connection has evolved.
It’s inevitable. If a relationship is alive and healthy and growing, it’s changing. And even though that change can hurt and sting and leave us missing certain times or specific memories, that change is proof that we are moving forward.
I have a book on my living room shelf that I’ve been meaning to read for probably about as long as I’ve been in this relationship. I’ve picked it multiple times over the years and read random quotes from it online, and recently, I came across a quote that so beautifully embodies the evolution of my relationship—an evolution I fought against in the beginning but have since fought long and hard for.
The book is Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. And the quote? Well, it’s another one that I want to build my relationship around:
“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity—in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.
The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits—islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”
I still have moments of hope and hesitance. Days when I feel insecure, when I cling harder to him and to my attachments, when I worry that my love for him (or worse, his love for me) has changed. And days when I want to capture time in a bottle and keep our relationship exactly how it is in this very minute.
But then I remember that our relationship is how it is in this present moment because of all the change and growth and discomfort that we’ve weathered along the way. And then, on some level, I ache for more change and more growth and more discomfort. I ache for the opportunity to see where it can take us in the next moment.
And then I allow myself to give in to the tides—wherever they may take us.