View this post on Instagram
Tip #1: Break their dryer.
I broke his dryer.
Oops. There’s a nervous chuckle in the background somewhere.
In an emergency situation, a man I’m dating let me move in to his place for the next 45 days until my new lease starts.
We’ve been dating for five months. I have no clue what the timeline is usually, but this seems like a big thing.
Suddenly, I’ve been dropped in the middle of his bat cave. I carved a little corner out for my stuff, moved the rest into the front entry, and sort of tried to hide my impact.
Then I started doing his laundry out of gratitude.
Cue the broken dryer.
Tip #2: Burn pasta onto their pan.
That was the next thing. We made pasta. I don’t stir mine, usually, and he wanted to stir it a lot. In the end, we should have stirred it a lot. To my chagrin, the pasta burned.
That nervous chuckling is intensifying in the background somewhere, I swear.
Tip #3: Spend most evenings either flailing about like a disgruntled octopus or sulking in the corner like a sad sloth.
I’m on my period, I emergency moved, my car’s headlight is out, I bombed an interview, my cable/phone/internet company is being ridiculous, I’m worried about making a career, I’m doubting my mission, and I used too much data this month.
Apparently, when I am upset, I’m somewhere in between a disgruntled octopus and a sad sloth. I know my customers took pity on me at work yesterday, because I didn’t even try and still earned an extra 10 dollars in tips.
Most evenings during the two-ish weeks of living at his house so far, I’ve either been crying or grumpy from something. Today I sobbed for 10 minutes because I deleted a section of notes given to me by my powerlifting coach and had to ask him to re-add them.
It’s a great way to introduce a potential long-term mate to how I work, right? It’s been the worst two weeks of my life since January, and a great time to be like: Yo, here’s Alexis in a puddle of mud and a hailstorm—she’s a mess.
Tip #4: Accidentally leave blood all over the bathroom.
Did I mention I was on my period?
The rest is history. And a bloody mess. I promise I didn’t murder anyone.
Are these four great recommendations that can guarantee future happiness with a partner forever?
But in the end, I think each of these tips have a greater lesson. Not only the cliché—don’t be afraid to make mistakes—but something more specific.
Lesson #1: Gratefully work together.
When I got there, I looked around the house and asked myself: What can I do to help? How can I make his life a little easier in return?
I took the time to see what I could do for him, and I’ve seen him reciprocate.
We work together. I’m running up and down the stairs doing laundry and eradicating his house of moldy Tupperware containers with—Oh god, what is that?—black gunk in them, while he’s fixing the headlight to my car that I’m sure I’ll break if I try.
By working together, we are thankful for the presence of each other and can feel a level of investment and contribution. I take personal satisfaction in the things I’ve done to be helpful; it makes me feel good. I am not just there—I play an active role in his success, and in the end, my own.
If I hadn’t tried, I wouldn’t have broken his dryer.
Lesson #2: Learn about each other.
He stirs his pasta, I put oil in mine. I didn’t realize I was (usually) probably better at making noodles than he was (he’s sort of the chef in the household at the moment). I got to be excited that, “Oh my gosh I know how to do something in the realm of cooking that you don’t,” plus learn a bit more about him.
We also let moments like that be special. It is cliché, but I do argue that the small, present moments are the ones that connect us more than the big sweeping gestures we may share.
And so I was allowed to burn the pasta, learned stirring is helpful, and got to play.
Lesson #3: Be authentic.
I’m having a sh*tty couple weeks. That’s evident—but I’m dealing with the misfortune in the best way I know how.
I’m not hiding that sh*ttiness from him. He asks me how my day was, and I give him an honest answer. That doesn’t mean he has to fix it. That doesn’t mean I don’t ask him about his day, or that we talk about what’s going on for me all the time.
I just acknowledge it. Sometimes we talk about it, sometimes we don’t.
The important part is that I am seen. And I see him. I ask him how his day went and can celebrate his victories with him, even if I’m having losses.
And he mourns my losses with me. The give and take are real and allowed by authenticity.
In the end, that allows us to understand each other, pay attention, demonstrate care, and be compassionate.
We stay connected, keep working as a team, and find some humor in an unexpected and extraordinary situation.
Lesson #4: Get comfortable with each other’s bodily functions.
I’ve heard him sh*t. He’s heard me do the same. It didn’t occur to me at the start, but it’s not a huge house and sound tends to travel.
He’s found a toilet full of blood on a morning that I woke up too early for physics lab and forgot to flush. Again, to my chagrin, it’s part of the fact of life.
We got comfortable, hence it’s become a non-issue. People make those kinds of mistakes all the time.
I’m grateful for the opportunities to break the dryer, burn the pasta, be a sad octopus and…yeah, I’m not grateful for the blood everywhere. That was just my bad.
From most of these tips, our relationship has grown into a beautiful partnership.
As I showed this him the article, he expressed his gratitude as well, although I think he might have one more thing to say.
To quote, “Hi, this is that dude. Does anyone know a good dryer repairman?”