Oh! How many flowers have lost their rosy petals in an attempt to answer a simple question: am I the apple of his eye?
He loves me.
He loves me not.
(another petal down)
You can learn a lot of things from the flowers, Alice taught us when she fell down the rabbit hole. So surely if the falling petals tell you so, he must love you.
Not so fast…
I used to cheat. My flowers always told me exactly what I wanted them to. Somehow, whether I’d count the decapitated stem or count the petals ahead so I could “accidentally” pull off two petals at once, I’d always land on “he loves me.”
Of course, he rarely did. But when you’re young and your eyes are blinded by infatuation, you’re always optimistic.
Staying an optimist when you’re older: Or, enter “It’s complicated”
As I was deadheading my rosebushes this afternoon, I flashbacked to playground crushes and flowers as Magic 8 Balls shedding light onto my romantic fate. It occurred to me that whenever I respond with an “it’s complicated” to an inquiry into my relationship status, I was employing the grown-up equivalent of cheating at the “he loves me/he loves me not” game.
Let me explain: saying “it’s complicated” is giving yourself a sense of hope that eventually it’ll all work out. “It’s complicated” is the optimist’s definition of an enigmatic, most likely dead-end relationship.
This realization occurred to me when “the one that got away” magically resurfaced after years of silence. For the first time since he was in my life, I was finally able to evaluate what we were without a biased heart.
For a long time, I defined our relationship to outsiders and even our friends as “complicated.” When I say complicated, what I really mean is that we were close friends, I liked him and wanted more from our relationship. We never talked about our fate or our feelings, in fact we avoided talking about those things even though everyone around us tried to instigate a happily ever after. For months, nay, years I believed we were teeter-tottering on the edge of “something.”
In my mind I had attached an “it’s complicated” status to us because it kept the possibility of an Us open. We weren’t complicated. We wanted different things. And while I waited for him to get on the same page (because, of course that was going to happen), I missed out on a few good, uncomplicated men.
Here is a basic truth: Relationships can be complicated, but feelings are not.
I’ll probably never really stop being an optimist when it comes to love — I’ll never stop cheating at the “he loves me/he loves me not” game. But hanging around in an “it’s complicated?” I think I’ve finally learned to keep it simple.