My Fiance and I Don’t Talk Anymore
You know those exciting, tumultuous, dramatic relationships you see in the movies? The ones that vacillate between screaming matches, crying fits, and romantic, candlelit dinners? Think movies like The Notebook. I had that. And you want to know the truth about those relationships? They’re exhausting.
But some people don’t mind being exhausted.
My real problem with those relationships?
They’re high maintenance.
And perhaps, if you have little else to spend your time on, sure, a hot and heavy, up-and-down relationship that goes from piping hot to freezing cold and back on repeat, 24/7/365, just might be the thing for you. But personally, I just don’t have time for it. Or should I say, I don’t make time for it?
Back when I was in college, on the prowl for my first “real” relationship (a.k.a. desperate), I operated under the fallacy that I was supposed to mold my life and priorities around a relationship. That actually sounds laughable right now.
I’m supposed to fit myself and my goals around this other thing — this fickle thing, with this dramatic person, in the hopes that it all works out and I can fit myself into his happily ever after…assuming he doesn’t change his mind, mid-course?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t make compromises, but at that point, I was willing to compromise anything and everything just to make it work. I put the relationship before myself. My goals, hopes, and non-relationship-related dreams and aspirations all came second. And it showed. It showed in my grades. It showed in my happiness. It showed in my health. I became the worst version of myself, and one that, looking back, I’m honestly embarrassed by, simply because I didn’t realize one very simple thing.
Relationships don’t need to be high-maintenance. They don’t need to be exhausting. They don’t need to dictate your schedule, determine your fulfillment, or be the sole or primary cause of your happiness (or lack thereof).
So after my third and final time as the dumpee of my ex (this was nearly a decade ago), I decided to focus on a new concept: me. My goals. My career. Relationships? Who needs them. Well, that was my plan.
Then, unsuspectingly, my now-fiance stumbled into my life.
But I was already busy on my path to wherever I was going career-wise…perhaps I could pencil him in. Maybe. And luckily, we were able to make it work. We finished up our degrees together. Got jobs in the same city. Moved across the country to a brand-new state. Embarked on new endeavors. Adopted three fur-children. Moved again, to yet another city.
And that brings us to today. Our lives are a little bit busy. A little bit crowded.
We both work more than 80 hours per week, even if about 20 or so of that is voluntary on passion projects and side hustles. I run a few businesses, consult others, and can’t seem to stay away from side projects that entice me.
We’re also the proud and subservient parents to one stay-at-home adult (Flumpster), a teenager (Esmeralda), and an infant (Chinderella). Chinderella, alone, could qualify as a full-time job.
And then we have the odd household errand, like laundry once or twice a year (quarter? month?). I don’t know, I found an alternate solution to laundry: buy more socks…but somebody seems to empty the hamper and restock my closet…
And of course, there are things like personal grooming that take up time. Unlike many pandemic housedwellers, we haven’t given up personal hygiene and showering altogether — just about a 90% reduction or so. Meaning we still need to make time for this every so often.
So, we were both caught off guard when Charlie Puth aired our dirty laundry in his hit single
If you listen to anything resembling the Top 40, Billboard Hot 100, or pop music in general, you might recall Charlie Puth’s 2016 collab with Selena Gomez, “We Don’t Talk Anymore”.
And Charlie was right; we don’t. Not that much, anyway.
Well, sometimes I’ll ask him to close the fridge if he leaves it open. Or pick up a stray sock Chinderella kidnapped from the dirty hamper. (Yes, she does know how to climb — or should I say, catapult — into the laundry hamper, retrieve the items of her choice and kangaroo-leap out with her newfound prize.)
And sometimes he asks me to stop turning the heat on to 85 degrees. Sorry, bro — I moved to California to be warm. Not trying to pay this rent and freeze in my own home. Just saying.
But in all seriousness, we don’t spend all that much time together between the hours of…well, between the days of Monday morning and Saturday afternoon (I have a work call most Saturday mornings). And he likes to work on his side hustle on Sunday afternoons. So that leaves approximately…12 or so waking hours, split over two days…for us to actually talk and spend quality time together, uninterrupted by work, pets, or other responsibilities…
The hot, new date on the block
But then there’s food shopping. I mean, we need to eat, right? Plus, with all these lockdowns, I think food shopping has become the hottest, new date activity, right? Or at the least, the codeword for “field trip” — and who doesn’t love a good field trip (or any reasonable excuse to escape the house…)?
So, we settle on weekly food shopping as our couple’s togetherness time. A few hours of errand-running, and then back to the busy, on-the-go lifestyles we choose to lead.
And the great thing about it? We’ve built a relationship solid enough to accommodate our schedules. Our relationship accommodates us; not the other way around.
Over the past nearly eight years of courtship, the one consistent thing about our relationship is simple: it’s low maintenance. We’re companions, more than anything.
What we like most about each other? I don’t want to speak for him, but I think, if he feels the same way, it’s the other person’s presence. I don’t need to see him; I don’t need to talk to him. I just need to know he’s in the other room — in the bedroom, to be exact, working at the crappy, makeshift dresser-desk I built years ago in our first crappy studio apartment in California.
Eliot: Please Venmo me your monthly desk rent for using my self-built creation.
Knowing he’s there, walking by and hearing the obnoxious ping of his coworkers instant messaging him, while he plays some medieval Netflix show on his personal computer (and probably also plays “tree stump” on his phone)? That’s comforting. That’s my love language. Presence.
Low maintenance. No drama. Comforting companionship.
And a partner and relationship both solid, loyal, and secure enough to know that it’s okay if we go through little phases of not talking so much. Not hanging out as often.
We’ll get back to talking, to hanging out, to having more time for romantic, couple-focused togetherness. We’ll make time for it. One day, when we’re a little less busy. When we get a few of these near-term, time-sensitive goals out of the way. It’s not lost on us; we do have a timeline and our relationship is on our radar. But for now? This works. Presence is enough.
And the little time we do spend together? That time is priceless — calm, fun, drama-free, and a welcome (though rare) distraction, when we can fit it in.
Sometimes the best relationships are the ones you don’t have to think about.