I’m in my first adult relationship–first relationship period–and I’m afraid of the inevitable breakup. Is that a normal feeling?
I’m a sentimental bitch. I take pictures of everything from friends to food to interesting people on the subway as if I’m afraid of one day forgetting them. I manage to rekindle friendships after months, years out of contact. I keep movie tickets and cigarette stubs from poignant moments of camaraderie that I imagine happening in an indie film.
I don’t like letting go of things that made an impact on my life, so it’s easy to understand why I have a fear of the idea of letting go of a romantic relationship, too.
As someone who never experienced the weirdness of fleeting middle school relationships or the formative couplings of high school or college, I’m in my first adult relationship, having never experienced an adolescent one. I’m almost jealous of the ease in which my friends–even my boyfriend–can speak of their past relationships. Most are shrugged off or laughed about, but even the ones that aren’t being discussed with a sterile lack of sentimental sheen. I’ve never had that experience, be it of heartbreak or initiating a breakup or anything, all of which seem to be pretty important things to experience by one’s mid-twenties.
This is different than not being experienced in the sack or my past fear of blow—which was pretty funny, in retrospect. It’s like being emotionally inexperienced, something that’s a lot more difficult to overcome than putting a penis in your mouth.
While I’ve never been in a relationship until now, I’m old enough to have lost the idealistic haze of teen love, to know that the forever together bullshit that often leads to sad blog posts (Livejournal in my high school days, Tumblr now) and carefully curated breakup playlists. I’ve known of people who have gone from enjoying a long-term relationship to setting up an OKCupid profile and trolling Tinder, painstakingly trying to figure out the whole dating thing all over again.
Most relationships end in breakups, it’s a fact, and it’s a fact that is sometimes holding me back in my current relationship.
I’ve mentioned my concerns on this front to a few friends, but they’ve told me to not worry about it, to live in the moment and have fun. As a woman with anxiety issues, that’s difficult for me to do in many situations, so it’s a particularly big challenge for a relationship. A simple Google search yields grim results about dating in one’s ’20s. A charmingly titled Elite Daily post titled “Why Relationships In Your 20s Won’t Last” and a Thought Catalog article called “3 Reasons Why Being In A Relationship In Your 20s Is Hard” grace the top two search results, while a more optimistic Huffington Post piece called “Why Developing Serious Relationships in Your 20s Matters” rounds out the top three. A Daily Mail article claimed that the average lifespan of a relationship is now two years and nine months, which is longer than I expected but still… there’s always that impending doom.
It’s hard to feel this way without seeming too clingy and obsessive. Like, I’m not treating this relationship like one of the other sentimental trinkets I keep on my bookshelf. At least, I hope I’m not.
Again, maybe this is anxiety and general self-consciousness talking, but whenever I think about the hard fact that a breakup will probably happen, I get this weird feeling of impending doom. For example, It’s hard to plan fun trips months in advance when something in the back of my head is thinking, “Hey, cool, but what if we break up by then?” As if it’s only a matter of time before I start over-identifying with that No Doubt song “Ex-Girlfriend” and very other sad (and amazing) song from Return Of Saturn. I wonder how we’ll refer to each other as future partners on awkward OKCupid dates: This white dude I dated who wore a lot of sweaters? This black chick he dated that who sent him a 346-word e-mail response to a simple question: What’s your favorite album by The Cure? Okay, he probably wouldn’t refer to me as “this black chick” or by my race at all, but I can’t make any promises vice versa because I do love my racial humor: white dudes, sweaters, Mister Rogers, ad nauseum.
I know that obsessing over this isn’t helping. So what can be done? What is an anxiety-prone girl in her first relationship supposed to do? I guess I need to focus on what’s important right now: I’m dating someone I like, we’re having a good time, and one day he’ll buy The Cure’s Disintegration on vinyl, and all will be well. I’ll just have to keep the positivity up to keep the negativity down.