What Annoys Me: “Relationships Are Hard”
Several months ago, I read Mindy Kaling’s often-funny Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and was especially delighted by the chapter “Married People Need to Step It Up.” In it, she writes of her friend Tim, who suffers from the “Relationships are Hard” syndrome: “Tim is the kind of guy who corners you at a party to tell you, vehemently, that marriage is work. And that you have to work on it constantly. […] He is convinced that his daily work on his marriage, and his acknowledgement that it is basically a living hell, is modern.”
Hearing people say “relationships are hard” has been one of my top annoyances for years. I’m not under any delusions that relationships are unfailingly happy, or that some aspects don’t require effort, or that couples never experience tough times. But it seemed like I was very much in the minority in thinking that a fine romance could lead to, and be part of, a happy, pleasant life, rather than exist as some soul-sucking burden to endure or escape from. I was so pleased to read that someone else (someone famous!) was dismissing the “relationships are hard” crowd, too.
Kaling writes, “I don’t want to hear about the endless struggles to keep sex exciting, or the work it takes to plan a date night. I want to hear that you guys watch every episode of The Bachelorette together in secret shame […] I want to see you guys high-five each other like teammates on a recreational softball team you both do for fun. I want to hear about it because I know it’s possible, and because I want it for myself.”
It was refreshing to read Kaling’s cockeyed optimism about marriage because, as she puts it, “we seem to get so gloomily worked up about it these days.”
I could list tons of reasons why the “Relationships are Hard” set annoys me so much, but the biggest one is probably this: I just don’t believe it’s true. Relationships are hard when people make them hard. They don’t need to be, and they aren’t inherently that way.
Bemoaning how much work you have to put into a relationship might be in vogue these days, but I’ll take just being happy. It’s quite simple, really:
Boy likes Girl (or maybe Girl likes Boy, or Boy likes Boy – that’s fine, too) + Girl likes Boy = ❤
As with most things in life that seem complicated but are really breathtakingly simple, the rest will sort itself out.