I’m smack in the middle of that really hard part of life—you know, the part between preschool and death.
I’m the poster girl for stress, worrying about everything from the probable (“One day I’ll be too old to ride a Six Flags roller coaster. Sadness.”) to the highly unlikely (“It might be good to have a rifle around the house just in case there’s a zombie apocalypse.”).
My fears, neuroticisms, and mediocre efforts at positivism are a blueprint for crazy. So how do I keep my sanity despite my shoddy emotional genetics? Everyone roll your eyes collectively now: Love.
If you’re completely crazy about another person then their positive traits can start to diminish your negative ones. In honor of the recent Valentine’s Day (did you propose a carnally suggestive box of candy hearts, btw?), I’d like to acknowledge several key ways in which the owner of your heart can make the crazy little world inside yourself a better place.
I’m convinced your relationship has one hell of a good shot at lasting if:
1. Your partner sees your neuroses and generously labels them as “cute.” I see a spider and instead of killing it in an insect hate crime, I catch him and gently release him outdoors. Weird? Nope—cute, according to my boyfriend. I carry around an old lady-style coupon organizer and get a drug-like high when I spot a deal that, when combined with a coupon, will render the item practically free. Disturbing? Uh uh. “Cute,” says my boyfriend with a smile as I approach the register with the crazed look of a junkie. And lastly, when I wake up in the morning—never my shining moment—I’ve got a slobbery nightguard, hair that looks tornado-tousled, and an anger toward the world that doesn’t go away until I’ve had an amount of caffeine frowned upon by doctors. Am I a frightening gremlin to be feared and avoided until mid-afternoon? Nope. As you may have already determined, according to at least one person, I’m actually quite cute.
2. Your partner muses about an exciting and happy future —and you’re the star of it. Despite the fact that all girls are supposed to dream of wearing a big white dress, I’m not hellbent on sprinting down the aisle tomorrow. Someday? Sure. But in the meantime, I’ve got a guy already laying the groundwork for happily ever after. Strangely, hearing my boyfriend make a compelling argument for which breed of dog should inhabit our future abode (when we’re nowhere near abodedom) makes me smile. And debating the merits of a scrappy pound mutt versus a lovable but inbred golden retriever has now become an enjoyable pastime. If your beloved consistently talks about the future (homes, kids, the matching sweaters you’ll both wear at the retirement community), then it’s clear your partner can’t imagine a life without you.
3. In the bedroom, there is no “weird” when it comes to your fantasies or needs. My friend Sarah* is dating a guy that’s more sexually adventurous than the typical American male. Although at first she was hesitant to try acting out a fetish Mike* craved, they talked about it until she decided it wouldn’t hurt to try it. The fetish? Her boyfriend loves to dress up in sexy women’s clothes and makeup in the bedroom. Sarah was afraid their dynamic would change and she wouldn’t get the wild “Me Tarzan, you Jane” sex that she loved. But after a sexual liaison in where Mike glammed it up in trashy lingerie, she was hooked. “His persona changed in a good way,” she says. “He felt hot and was completely uninhibited, which meant he was even more sexually assertive.” Thus, Sarah found out that a guy can still be a tiger in the bedroom while wearing lip gloss. Granted, just because your partner doesn’t jump onboard your threesome fantasy or your electrocution fetish, it doesn’t mean the depth of their love isn’t up to par. But if they listen without judgment and are willing to consider your sexual curiosities, you’ve got a keeper.
*Names have been changed to protect Courtney from physical harm
Courtney Bee's articles on sex and relationships have appeared in Hustler, Playgirl, and numerous adult books. On ellorascave.com she's the bestselling author of Athima, an erotic novella, and a contributor to the new X-rated anthology Flavors of Ecstasy III. She's also a top-ranked sex columnist on examiner.com, where she betrays her prim Catholic upbringing on a daily basis.