In 2012, my friends and I obsessed over the album, A Pocket Full of Kryptonite, by The Spin Doctors. I had since forgotten about it until a few days ago. A song of theirs played on the radio, and I remembered why I fell in love with it.
During its heyday, we listened to the CD on auto-repeat for hours on end. We cooled to their music after a while but still enjoyed it. Soon, we grew tired of it and ditched it forever.
Relationships can follow a similar track if you’re not careful.
You never think it can happen to you, at least not in the early stages of mutual desire.
It begins with a flicker of interest. You both feel it. Out of nowhere, it blossoms into mutual infatuation. Then it happens.
You meet for a Friday night date and go home together. You emerge Sunday afternoon, frantically obsessed with each other.
You’re giddy and anxious when apart — every thought centers on your next embrace. Work suffers. Your boss warns you about missed deadlines, but you can’t focus.
You brunch together and listen to that silly story about Chris from Accounting, and you think it’s the funniest thing you ever heard in your life.
Weeks pass and you think these days will never end. “This is it,” you say to yourself. “It’s love.”
But at some point, the desire fades, just a little like when you fall in love with a song, play it over and over, and then grow accustomed to it.
You still have that special feeling for each other, but it’s now somewhat muted. You settle into the relationship. At first, you couldn’t keep your hands off each other. Back then, you thought of it as fucking. Now, you call it sex, and if you skip a few days, you won’t miss it.
Setting the routine
Friday becomes your official date and sex night. Saturday, you both hang out with friends. Sunday, you brunch together. Monday and Tuesday, you catch up on television. Wednesday is laundry night. Thursday starts as a free night and then becomes your sex night because you’re too tired to do it after your date on Friday.
Each week follows the same pattern. It’s comfortable and predictable, but dull, the same way your favorite song starts to bore you after a while.
At dinner, you ask about their day, not because you’re curious, but because you feel obligated to ask. It’s not that you don’t care, you just know they’ll give the same answer as last night, and countless nights before that.
You try to rekindle the last flicker of remaining love, so you plan a vacation. A sprinkling of tropical dust from the Caribbean waters rewinds the clock, and you say to yourself, “We still got it.”
You return home to the same calendar, reliving the same schedule. A week passes, and you feel like the vacation never happened. Sex night arrives, and neither of you feels a pinch of desire. You both undress in silence and scoot under the covers. “Ready?” you ask.
No longer do you think of it as fucking or even sex. Now it’s just intercourse. Like something you do in front of middle-aged stiffs in white lab coats scribbling on clipboards.
How did it come to this?
Remember that song you once loved? In time, it bores you. Then, it annoys you. “Ugh, if I listen to that song one more time…”
Another dinner comes and you think, “If I have to hear that story about Chris from Accounting one more time…”
It’s Thursday night again, and you’re supposed to intercourse with each other. But you get caught up watching some crappy show on Netflix. “Oh,” you say. “Didn’t realize it was so late.”
“Me either. Should we skip it tonight?”
“Well,” you say. “If you’re okay with skipping it, I guess.”
Whew. You sigh in unison. And then with a pang of fear, you think: how did it come to this?
You never fought. Nobody stormed out of the house, vowing never to return. Nobody cheated. Is this how it ends?
Then you shout what you’re both thinking. “Loving relationships shouldn’t work like this.”
“I know. We have to do something. I still love you. You know that, right?”
A flurry of imagination
You pull the calendar off the wall and toss it into the fireplace. No more Friday date nights at your favorite Italian place. To hell with friends night and television.
You rouse your partner out of bed for an early morning hike on Saturday. They surprise you in the shower before work on Monday. At dinner, you stop yourself from asking, how was your day? Instead, you ask, “What would you like to accomplish with your life?”
Weeks later, you take an impromptu acting class together. You rush home like the early days, unable to control yourselves. And like that song you once loved and then couldn’t stand; you hear it again and remember why you fell in love with it.
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