DO you and your partner have a ‘‘how we met’’ story? We do. If I tell it correctly it goes something along the lines of we met through a series of happenchances through friends, I dumped him twice but he kept persisting. I thought ‘this guy must really like me’, gave him a chance and we fell in love. ‘‘Third time lucky!’’ I always say to finish the story. After eight years I’ve perfected its telling.
The truth is, it really didn’t happen like that. I’ve ironed out a lot of inconvenient details and shortened and sharpened the telling over time. The reality is there was a lot of awkwardness, some embarrassing bits, four months, some really humiliating bits and me getting told off by a mutual friend of ours in there as well. But no one wants to hear that. Well, maybe they do but I don’t want to tell them.
It seems like every couple is supposed to have some great story about how they met. When they first get together, or meet new people, or get engaged or go to school reunions they are obliged to fill in the curious in on the tale. The couple perfect the telling of this story over time and pretty soon they can perform their parts like a well-rehearsed play.
The problem with this tradition, especially in the era of internet dating, is not everyone has a really good story. You can see them at social events. When asked they just shrug their shoulders, look embarrassed and say ‘‘through mutual friends’’. Or worse they cast their eyes down and say ‘‘just at a pub/club’’ (read: we hooked up for drunken sex one night and one of us just never left the other person’s flat). People who met on the internet always seem to blush, look very sheepish and occasionally admit it was over the internet. The funny thing about this is I now know three married couples who met on the internet and even more people still in a relationship. It is really common now to not only meet people online, but meet people and have solid lasting relationships, but still the stigma remains.
The good ‘‘how you met story’’ seems to be very important to women. We have to have a good story to make our friends jealous. It has to be so good friends will despair at their own romantic drought. People who once hooked up at a disco in high school become ‘‘high school sweethearts’’, people who met at work had ‘‘office romances’’ even though neither ever did it on a photocopier or in a storeroom and people who hated each other with more venom than a death adder say it was a case of ‘‘opposites attract’’. Quite a few who did not actually have a good ‘‘how you met story’’ (I know, because I was there) have this habit of filling in the details later. By the time you get to their wedding they are waxing lyrical about being soul mates, meant for each other, destiny and how it was meant to be.
There seems to be an inference that if you don’t have a good story about how you met, it can’t have been destiny, right? Couples both men and women seem to feel this need to turn their major relationship into the work of the gods. That fate brought them together and isn’t this a coincidence and shouldn’t that be a sign. There’s talk of ‘‘just knowing’’ and ‘‘like magic’’.
I think these people are just full of crap.
If these people have been blessed with some meant-to-be kind of relationship and had a serendipitous meeting what about all those people who end up with someone who they met on the internet, or at the pub or through friends. Were those people just unlucky not to trip over their soul mate when they walked past one day, or were they not special enough for fate to intervene and hand them their perfect match? If that’s true I really don’t think the gods should be playing favourites. If one person gets a soul mate then everyone should. And everyone should get to meet them in some fantastic way and marry them and spend their lives with them.
If it was fate that both brought them to the bar that night, then fate is not very creative.
And what about people who have a great story but then get divorced?
On this question of soul mates I find it hard in my head to reconcile two flawed individuals somehow forming a perfect union. I don’t buy this nonsense about your flaws complementing each other either. What flaw do I have that complements my partner’s snoring? Or his manky toenails for that matter. I do not cut toenails for a living. Nor can I sleep through this snoring.
As is often the case in life I think the world is more complicated than that. Some people do form deep and sometimes immediate connections, some people forge meaningful relationships over time and some people can have all the magic but none of skills to make a relationship survive. Some people stick it out, others become each other’s family and can’t imagine life without each other. Some do complement each other, to an extent, but not perfectly. Some people fall madly in love with people who will never love them back. And, most people rest comfortably in the middle with a few magic moments along the way.