It’s always peculiar when a new person enters your life. I feel like the concept of befriending strangers is probably more common in DC than other cities, simply because people are always coming and going, but starting a relationship from square one still throws me for a loop.
If you didn’t grow up with someone; if you didn’t attend the same high school or get drunk at the same frat parties in college; if you didn’t meet through work or family… you’re truly starting from scratch. Odds are you’re not dating an ax murderer, but for the amount of information revealed through social media and light stalking of his Goodreads account, it’s entirely possible.
Frankly, I find that terrifying.
As you spend time together, you’ll gather bits and pieces of who they were and how they became the person they are today. You’ll cling to offhand remarks about childhood, absorb what you can, and piece the puzzle of this person together over weeks, months, maybe even years.
You see a scar on his knee and wonder when and where it came from. Chicken pox? Surgery? Some ill-fated attempt at dunking in a pickup basketball game? What about that underhanded grab for the seatbelt when he goes to buckle up? Is that something one of his parents did? It’s an unexpected movement, but likely strange only to you because you’re seeing it for the first time.
You’re exposed to an influx of quirks and behaviors that are charming, comical, and unnervingly specific to them. You’ll associate these actions exclusively with this new person in your life and one day, those things may be the very behaviors that drive you bonkers. That’s how relationships work, right? We fall in love slowly with a compilation of traits, convince ourselves that they’re endearing, and then that same package irritates the hell out of us somewhere down the line.
If you could look back on an entire relationship from the bitter end, what would you do differently? Would you still let yourself fall? Would you take it back, wish it away? Is it easier just to never experience the ordeal of meeting someone, developing a rapport, and falling in love if the relationship is merely going to disintegrate like they always do – or do the lessons learned and the glimmer of hope for a happy ending make it worth your while?