Happy Relationships: The Dark Side!

Taylor is the person I spend the most time with. Even during our periods of long-distance, she's the person I speak to most. We have an hour of Skype a day, minimum, and we will be in a constant long streams of facebook messages, which are either extremely long and detailed or as short and snappy as an IM conversation, depending on what situation we are both in. Taylor is my partner, best friend and family. She's the person with whom I share all my life experiences. And since she and I melded in this way, I have noticed that I find it harder dealing with the way people who aren't her (and who also aren't my mum or dad, who also tend to be rather nice to me...!) behave towards me. While I am aware that what I am about to discuss is the happy relationship equivalent of the sarcastic hashtag "first world problems", I am nevertheless going to boldly venture on with my discussion.

In times BT (Before Taylor), I was not somebody who was "lucky in love". In fact, I was quite literally always single and saw it staying this way to such an extent that I had made it my identity that I wanted to be single. And I wasn't even someone who dated people, I was just literally always alone as far as this aspect of my life was concerned. Being with Taylor is my first long-term relationship, and many things about being part of it have really surprised me, but how spoiled I get when I am with her has surprised me most of all.

When I first realised that I felt this way, I was pondering the way people interact with me in my job as a waiter, which lead me to consider the way the wider world interacts with me, and I was really surprised. But it also made perfect sense. Taylor is in love with me, which kind of means that she likes me a lot. I am also in love with her, which means I like the way she behaves and interacts. We are also partners, which means we treat each other better than we would the average passerby in the street, or even a casual acquaintance.
But when your partner is your constant company, it's weird how you get used to this niceness as the usual way to interact with people.
I get used to her telling me she loves me, and we tell each other this a lot. I also get used to a lot of compliments. She will tell me how good I look or how talented I am at doing something, and I do the same to her. Maybe it's because I'm British but I am entirely not used to this kind of straight-forward, out-and-out praise, without hints of irony or sarcastic insults following it. When I'm with people who aren't Taylor, it's really surprising how much I feel that they are distant or cold towards me. My sub-conscious is left wondering why they don't think everything I do is great. There's a little voice which is whining, "Why are they being so mean to me?" I can't even ask for compliments, in the luxuriously self-indulgent way I would with Taylor if I wanted one - I sometimes physically have to bite back my request for praise to stop me sounding like a very vain and rather odd individual.

There's the added component that Taylor just, for want of a better way of phrasing it, gets me. Many things that I used to feel unusual for doing (spending ages getting ready in the morning, being obsessed with sparkling wine...) are totally normal ways of life. What's more, we like the same things and find the same things funny. It's weird being in the company of someone whose sense of humour I don't know, when normally I can rest so assured that I can predict the things the person I'm with will be amused by and moreover, that they'll be things I'm amused by. It's also strange to have someone who has a different opinion from ours thrown into the mix: someone who might suddenly be voicing that they don't think I look swell in coloured chinos. And on top of that, Taylor and I have our own language in the sense of private phrases. I'm even translating here - if you were Taylor, I wouldn't have written "coloured chinos". I'd have written "pandee pants" and everything would have made sense.

But it isn't just that Tay and I are always sweet and lovely to each other. Although we do our best not to, of course we have fights. There are also incidents where one of us will inadvertently offend the other one. But even this is different. Taylor and I have incredibly finely tuned communication skills, something we have spent a lot of time working on and which I believe to be one of the fundamental reasons that we work so well as a couple. We have a routine for when we've had a row or one of us is offended. We tell each other we're upset and this will trigger a discussion where we will both try and respect the other person, or immediately apologise, if the offender feels ready to say they didn't mean to hurt the offendee straight away. However, in the real world, everyone isn't as prepared to play as nicely with me as Taylor does. Other people will be argumentative or unwilling to take responsibility. I also, frankly, do usually see and respect Taylor's version of events, whereas with people who aren't her I don't always feel this way, which makes it much harder for me to treat them with the same tolerance that I would her. It comes down as well to that other people who aren't Taylor are just that: other people. They communicate in different ways and I am very used to the way Taylor is, reacts, behaves and relates to people. I like to think that I have a pretty good understanding of the way Taylor operates and I am peaceful in possession of this knowledge when I'm around her. But around other people it's like I'm back at square one. Suddenly, I'm with someone who doesn't make sense to me, someone who I haven't devoted months to figuring out how best to work with them.

In a way, I suppose it is a positive that Taylor and I are such a tough act to follow as far as my subconscious is concerned. She should be that: she is, after all, my other half. Being with Taylor is almost like being alone. I guess the very fact that being with her is so different from being with other people is what makes our relationship so special. Bearing this happy thought in mind, I will soldier on determinedly, despite the fact that you didn't tell me my new trousers look great because I know that I am blessed with a beautiful, lovely somebody who I can send a picture of me in said trousers, if I ever need to know how good they look.

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