The good girlfriend.
Lauren Foreman

Don’t hang too much of this on yourself.

Younger people, even those who don’t feel they’re so young any more, may not recognize that the roles of “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” as carried out today, are fairly new inventions, and that by all indications no one seems to know what the terms and conditions of “being in a relationship” are.

To be bluntly cynical but not necessarily judgmental about it, the place you are trying to occupy and function in, is a historic by-product of several factors, but the chief among them is accessible contraception, added to this notion of “compatibility”, which taken together cause this business of “a relationship” to be agonizingly ambiguous purely on the shaky foundation of partial and conditional commitment. Is it an extended episode of pump-and-dump, or is it a trial run for matrimony? Whatever the terms of the thing actually are, they don’t seem to include that among them is the idea that two people have truly decided to belong to one another, along with everything that brings.

Most of which, “compatibility” aside, is a life of living with someone who remains in many ways as much a stranger and a mystery as after the first date, if not more so, and accepting that reality as part of a whole.

What the “relationship” arrangement lacks, is wholeness. Each party is then left to negotiate continually with themselves, as the song says, “should I stay or should I go?”, and assume as a self-protective measure that the other is doing the same. The meaning of the other becomes not “for better or worse” but rather “for now.”

In ancient history, a very few generations back, when the terms of courtship did not allow for things like romantic getaways together or taking on the project of cohabitation as a means of measuring compatibility, there were reasons for this. I see this not as some set of moralistic restraints to keep people unnaturally disabled from expressing themselves, but rather as a purely practical means of keeping anyone from being exactly where you are now, but absent a self-imposed condition on yourself that whatever it is this man’s behavior means, or means to you, he is not just a boyfriend but part of your family.

Is he?

Decide that, one way or the other, and the rest might make more sense. Or the fact that it doesn’t make much sense at all sometimes, be more acceptable to live with, for you both.

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