Relationships — romantic or otherwise — don’t happen magically.
If you’re lucky, the process of getting to know someone and building a relationship will feel magical.
But, there’s no higher force that has you spellbound. You’re both doing the legwork, but you're enjoying it.
Some relationships are fleeting, and they come into your life to paint it with splashes of fluorescent color before making a quick exit.
Sometimes, when you meet someone, you will know he or she is special.
He or she challenges you, fascinates and inspires you.
If you’re even luckier, he or she will see your unique value, too.
You want to keep these individuals around, but doing that doesn’t happen as easily as we’ve all been made to believe.
Love won't just blossom after the quirky indie boy meets the artsy spontaneous girl.
Movie narratives sometimes misrepresent finding and falling in love.
However, more frequently, it is the audiences who misinterpret the narrative. They expect it to translate to real life.
We’ve all starred in our own independently funded love stories, only to be horrified when the credits don’t roll to us — awesome soundtrack and all — in an ambiguously halcyon future.
We find out love is hard, mundane work that won’t come to fruition if both parties aren’t equally on board.
Yes, it might be interspersed with some racy, al-fresco romps in the woods and moments of heartwarming sweetness, but it doesn’t just "happen."
You commit to it the way you commit to your career, with the terrible Monday morning feeling and all.
There are more analogies for love than there are trees in Vermont, but I like to think of it as building a house.
This is partly because it’s so pragmatically unromantic, and I’m a damn contrary individual.
It's also partly because it’s uncanny in its similarity, all the way down to the eventual demolition caused by a crippling bout of dry rot.
1. If you build the foundation too sloppily or quickly, it will come crumbling down around you.
We’ve all done this at some point or another.
You find each other intoxicating, and you want to be with each other all the time.
You go from first date to full-blown relationship (labeled or not) in a fortnight.
It’s heady and wonderful. You think about him or her a lot, daydreaming your job away like a 14-year-old with a crush.
But all too often, a few months down the road, someone will feel it’s too intense and too much.
But, it’s too late.
You’ll be trapped as the relationships progresses.
You can’t backtrack. There’s no rewind button to start over and savor those early stages, instead of cannonballing in.
Pulling back inevitably hurts the other person. Maybe you truck along a while longer.
But, you eventually realize you aren't exactly ready to have found "the one."
It ends, and you’re usually both scarred by the emotional wreck of it.
You lack the perspective to see you’ve only known each other for months.
A strong foundation is hard to build.
When someone makes your body parts buzz in his or her presence, you need to take some space to sober up.
Don’t ditch your mates on movie night. Keep going to the gym.
Don’t make yourself completely available.
This isn’t game-playing; it’s just common sense.
It might feel romantic to spend five nights a week together, but in retrospect, you will wonder if the person had anything else to do.
Overlooking problems or reservations makes you vulnerable.
Make time for them, and make it count when you’re together.
Go on an adventure, but take time to do other stuff.
You’ll build a solid foundation and prolong the orgasmic thrill of the first stages.
2. All the stages can take varying amounts of time.
Take time to appreciate each stage of development. Don’t wish your way to the end.
The media has messed us up, and Disney has messed us up even more.
Unfortunately, the "happily ever after" mentality not only breaks us, but it can also blind us to some of the best parts of the love story, including the stumbling sweetness, the dirty dalliances and the awkward little intimacies.
If we’re not careful, we can miss the opportunity to fully appreciate them because we’re too busy racing ahead to chapter 12 for the "ever after."
Once we get there, we feel restless and guilty for feeling that way.
Take it easy.
Don’t seek immediate dissection and validation from your girlfriends.
3. Never forget the insurance.
Sometimes, you don’t see these things coming, but they happen.
If the entire thing goes up in flames, you don’t want to have lost your entire investment.
Keep investing in your hobbies and passions, both during the build and after.
Maybe you want that lazy Sunday snuggle, so just once, you bail on that yoga training course.
But, it’s a slippery slope.
One day, you'll come up for air and won’t recognize yourself. You’ll realize you’re suffocating.
You don’t want to be left with no capital because you foolishly forgot the insurance.
Now, that means starting to build elsewhere, if you catch my drift.
If it doesn’t work out, don’t be that friend who comes crawling back, wounded with a jilted saga because you cut your friends down to the lowest priority.
Make time for your friends because they reaffirm your confidence and identity.
4. Maintenance is required for even the most sturdily built houses.
No matter how diligently the thing was constructed with each layer, pay finer attention to detail.
You can’t just walk away and let it be battered by the elements.
A fresh coat of appreciation for the result of your hard work will just be needed from time to time.
Windows get broken, and it can get a bit chilly while you take the time to fix it.
Don’t be arrogant enough to take it all for granted, or there'll be a surprise hailstorm and you’ll have to do some damage control.
Preventative action is key.
5. Renovations are optional, but they can accommodate you as you both grow and change.
If you stay rigid, you’ll break. This is true in many areas of life, but it is particularly true in relationships.
You may feel like you’ve done all the changing, but you still need to give your partner room to grow.
If he or she is worthwhile, your partner will want you to keep surprising him or her, too.
So, build the damn hot tub.
6. It’s an impressive feat.
When it’s all finished, you’ll find yourself inviting the parents over for dinner to show off the pine staircase and balcony fretwork you personally sourced.
When you put care and love into building something, you’ll always remember it fondly.
You'll be so much closer for the experience of working side by side.
You’ll also wonder how the hell you managed it. Be proud.