Changing Partners


I stay me. And you stay you.

The things I would do stay the same even if it’s someone else beside me.
Like spazzing out over furry plants and cactuses or pointing out eagles in the sky, I guess.

The things you would do stay the same even if it’s someone else beside you.
Like dressing up in yukatas and having lunch at sakae sushi, eating salmon and amaebi sushi.

It feels disconcerting– I used to do that with you, and now you’re doing it with someone else? But it’s inevitable, just the way it necessarily is. I shared myself with you, and now you’re gone, but I’m still here. I’m still me, and the things I share are still those things.

I’ve always wondered, for people who’ve had multiple bfs or gfs… what do you call them? Does the name stay the same? Isn’t strange though, if you called boyfriend A ‘baby’ and you call boyfriend B ‘baby’ as well?

And yet, how many terms of endearment can you cycle, huh? Besides, what if it’s a personal preference, it’s a term you like. You stay you. And the other person just changes and swops and cycles. The term you use is a part of who you are, and not an identity of the other.

I wonder if there are things that aren’t just you (with me tagging along) and aren’t just me (with you tagging along) but are us. Things unique to us. Things that can’t be cycled, can’t just swop in and out someone new. Things that we only did together, that we wouldn’t do with anyone else.

There must be, for surely a relationship is greater than the sum of its parts? For surely there is ‘you’, there is ‘me’, but there was also ‘us’?

I can’t remember, I”ve forgotten, I am forgetting.

When I look at our ‘things to do before we die!’ list, the items seem to fall neatly into the things you wanted to do, and the things I wanted to do. Of course, we’d thought we’d do them together, but you would still fly in a hot air balloon without me, and I am still set on climbing mountains and seeing the northern lights with or without you, or anyone else. Was there anything on the list that was truly something for us to do before we die?

We were waltzin’ together to a dreamy melody
When they called out “Change partners”
And you waltzed away from me
Now my arms feel so empty as I gaze around the floor
And I’ll keep on changing partners
Till I hold you once more

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What makes a relationship


Is it stupid that what I want more than anything in the world is a romantic companion?

It is stupid; I was horrified to realize it and I’m embarrassed to have admitted it. I’ve become what I hate: one of those women who are constantly obsessed with wanting to find a boyfriend, wanting to find a husband, wanting to get married and settle down as soon as possible.

I would roll my eyes and scoff: there’s more to life than that, c’mon, does it really matter that much? When it happens, it happens. In the meantime, live your life, please!

And yet… I don’t think it’s that uncommon a desire. In fact, I think it’s a pretty common desire, based on what the majority of our music, movies and books are about and on the fact that people pair up more often than they don’t.

I was watching Juno for the first time recently, and the following quote from the father made me cry (I was also slightly drunk, that’s my excuse): “The best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.”

I cried because I know I’m capable of that. Is that really so hard to do? I cried because real life is never that simple. Why are there so many things that get in the way? Why do we let them get in the way?

I recently got the feeling that… I think I could love just about anyone. I don’t know how true that is and I certainly don’t want to test it (how, by randomly picking a person in my vicinity and attempt to cultivate a crush on that person??), but that’s how I felt.

That made me think that perhaps our parents’ and grandparents’ generations got it right: just pick one or have one picked for you and that’s it. You learn to live with the person. You learn to take care of the person. You learn to love them, you grow to love each other. Isn’t there a kind of love that grows naturally from spending time with a person and getting to know them?

I guess that isn’t enough though. I should have seen enough rubbish marriages to know this…

I never liked the idea of having a list of criteria for your significant other, choosing mechanically by ticking off a checklist. Every time I re-vist the idea, I find myself mocking it. He has to be taller than you… really? Has to have certain qualifications, have certain amount of money… really?

Well, I guess it would be good if she likes the outdoors, like me. I guess it would be fantastic if she liked rock-climbing too, then we could go together! She must like animals, she must care for the environment. Singing and music. Those are very important too. And art! We could draw things for each other and visit art exhibitions together. Oh, preferably a Terry Pratchett fan c’mon how can one not like Terry Pratchett? It would be good if our socio-economical backgrounds are similar too, and if she can speak or understand hokkien, that’d make integration into my extended family much easier. Oh, she should be a science person, because I’m a science person. And wouldn’t it be cool if we could have pointless philosophical discussions that last forever? 

… And wouldn’t that be just like dating myself and wouldn’t that be a whole bunch of EXTREMELY BORING.

Honestly, I think one of the best parts about being in a relationship– the most fresh, exciting and meaningful parts– is seeing through some one else’s eye. Having the scope of your world open up and expand, being introduced to a whole new world you weren’t privy to before. Learning more about things you never knew about, never thought about, never saw in that way before and having yourself changed by that experience.

Where would all that be if the other person were exactly like you?

It’s of course good and sound advice that certain compatibilities should be present. If you have no common interests, what are you going to do together or talk about? If your backgrounds and perspectives are too different, misunderstandings would occur easily. And more importantly, if your priorities in life and in the relationship clash, it would be hard to make it last.

I made a list (similar to the one above) of all the things that were important to me. Must like animals and nature. Must value friends and family highly. I made a list, and then I dismissed it. These sort of things really aren’t what’s important in a relationship, it’s not what you should be looking out or on your guard for.

Yet such a list is important– not as a criteria list but as a list of knowing what’s important to you. Which are the most important values to you, which are the lines you won’t cross? Which are the essential characteristic, which define what you want from the relationship? And which define your dreams and what you want from life?

And that’s what makes or breaks a relationship, I think. Each knowing the their own general answers to these questions and being able to talk openly and successfully arrive at common answers as a couple.