We hold romance in this weird high esteem.
Everyone thinks romance is the greatest part of a relationship. If you were watching a movie or reading a romance book, romance is what we live for.
If there is no romance, there is no relationship anymore, right?!
And then comes how perfect romance can be for a happy life. Perfect flowers.
The perfect meal.
We have to be perfect human beings, delivering the perfect experience, to get it right.
And if you don't get it right, if you lack perfection, your relationship is surely doomed.
Gees, what a way to make something meant to be fun and sexy seem like an unachievable expectation. How unromantic.
But that's not the problem with romance. It's the fact this idolisation of romance is nothing like what happens in real-life relationships.
Sure, you have those "perfect moments". But a relationship involves more everyday "ugliness" than romance. In fact, you're not having a real relationship if it's not messy, confronting, and honest. If it's all perfectionism, most realists will tell you it won't last.
Here are the gross parts of relationships that make them real, that have zero to do with conventional romance.
Get used to bodily functions
People complain about their partner farting. For the first time, for the millionth time. Quite frankly, when I hear this complaint, I find it quite boring. And unrealistic.
I mean, come on, we should be so lucky if gas was the only bodily function humans had to worry about excreting from their romantic partners.
Every person, even into adulthood, faces the moment when they can no longer hide their bodily functions from polite society.
It's those moments when accidents occur. When you find yourself inexplicably caught short and far away from the safety and privacy of a bathroom.
I suffer from chronic diarrhea as a result of my gallbladder removal. Trust me; I know what these moments are like. I don't plan for them, but they do happen.
Unless you plan on living in isolation from each other forever, or never spending more than a few hours together at one time, there soon comes a time when your loved one will see, smell or hear your bodily functions.
There will be no disguising the natural yet repulsive things our bodies do to survive.
If you feel sickened by this, why you decided to live with another human being baffles me.
I mean, you do it, why do you expect them not to do it?
And then comes the childbirth confrontation
Ahh, nature's greatest miracle, bringing children into the world.
Beautiful in concept, disgusting in delivery.
Anyone who thinks the literal blood, sweat, and tears are truly beautiful hasn't walked along the beach at sunset. Nor have they seen the mountain from above. That is beauty. Childbirth is the complete opposite.
For those who aren't weak in the stomach, childbirth might not seem so bad. Yet, that's talking about the few short moments when the baby is about to arrive.
What about everything before and after?
The people I know who've given birth tell me about the excretions from their bodies before and after. These include fluids that came from their downstairs area, but not exactly sure which part.
I always find it amusing when a couple says they don't use the toilet in front of each other, yet they have children.
Didn't you see far worse during labor? Or during recovery? How are you still prudish now?
By the way, I get that people want privacy. Going to the toilet in peace is fair enough. That's not what I'm talking about here.
And the disgustingness doesn't stop there
Once the baby is out, life doesn't become any less gross. If you think your partner has stomach-churning bodily functions, wait until the baby shows what they can do.
I remember a week after my nephew was born and watching him fill his entire little jumpsuit with liquid poo. My poor sister didn't know which way to look.
What doesn't help these moments, or the romance, is the combination of bodily mishaps and extreme exhaustion.
There is nothing romantic about the short fuse that comes from the lack of sleep.
And let's face it, the parental uniform is vomit-stained clothing. Don't forget the unwashed hair and the dark under eyes no amount of makeup can cover.
Combine all this with a recovering mother, who has undergone intense stress on her body delivering the child, romance is dead.
The dreaded move
I hate any movies or television shows that make moving look easy. The actors shift a box or two, and a few moments later the entire house is magically unpacked.
No one is sweaty. No one looks like this is the worse day of their life, which it is.
Everyone makes it look so easy and romantic. Here you are starting a new life with your significant other.
It's not gross, it's beautiful.
When I moved into my new house with my husband in January of this year, I took a photo of my moving clothes.
This is what I was wearing as the removal men began to unpack the truck. Yes, unglamorous, gross, and very un-sexy.
But it was all I could find to wear at the time. Desperate times, my friends.
When you've had too many
To the couples who don't drink, keep reading. This one isn't for you. But for everyone else who enjoys a tipple, you know what it's like when your partner has had one too many. Or eight too many, as the case may be.
Is there anything less glamorous than your drunk partner?
When your partner becomes the drunkest in the room, and drunker than you, sometimes it's hard to see what you found attractive about them. The slurring, the bleary eyes, the bodily functions I mentioned earlier.
Then sometimes you get the very unromantic honesty, followed by undignified sexual propositions. And heightened emotions.
Again, this is one of those parts of a relationship made glamorous by the romance fiction genre. Everyone looks so put together when they're drunk. I struggle to find Hollywood examples of what a real drunk relationship looks like.
A month into my relationship with my husband, during the heightened and intense honeymoon period, I got hurt. At work, I suffered an injury and spent six months in a moon boot.
We went to more medical appointments than I can count. These appointments involved everything from normal consultations to scans to procedures.
I limped throughout our early days, gained weight from my immobility, and suffered extreme stress and exhaustion as a result.
Sure, we had romance, at times. But day-to-day life when it should have been at its most romantic didn't exist. My health and my body had to come first.
Reality set in and in a big way. Yet, that's perfectly normal.
This stuff happens no matter how much you look after yourself. No matter how committed or casual you are. The gross happens whether you like it or not.
Getting gross isn't about losing your relationship
People say the moment you first pass wind in front of your partner, the romance is over. Gees that's a messed up way to look at relationships, by the way. Talk about not being human or honest.
Everyone farts, poops, scratch their bum, looks crap in the morning, says something wrong, and the list goes on.
We're not perfect.
And when you sign up for a relationship, you're making an unsaid contract to accept a person no matter what they do. Well, almost no matter.
Exceptions do apply.
But if your exception is them farting in front of you, as anti-romance suggests, you're living in a very shallow and sheltered world.
I would argue you don't want the relationship, too. You want the façade that comes with being a couple.
If I could offer any advice, let's embrace our reality. Romance is temporary and short-lived. It's fictional in many ways, and subjective in every way.
Romance is nice, wonderful, and desirable. But this life that's intensely full of romance, and nothing else, isn't how we live.
We don't live our life without bodily functions and stressful times. Nor do we live without losing our composure during times of despair.
It isn't living, it isn't a relationship, if we assume romance won't give way to reality.
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