Life Beyond the Bar Scene: Healthy Relationships are for Boring People and Other Mishaps
May 2011 12

Life Beyond the Bar Scene: Healthy Relationships are for Boring People and Other Mishaps

Posted In All Things SG,Blog,Booze,Food & Drink,Love,Relationships,Sex,Society

by Laurelin

What defines a healthy relationship? People are always judging relationships, their own and other peoples, comparing them to those we see in real life, on TV, in romantic comedy movies. Is there really such a thing as a healthy relationship? I know that as a bartender I am surrounded by unhealthy lifestyles, so by default I think any relationship I find is most likely going to be unhealthy. I have this image in my head of the 9-5 types that gather at a few bars I’ve been to downtown, young professionals with their loosened ties and top button unbuttoned, holding a beer (only one, they have work tomorrow) and living their perfect lives. These are the kind of bars I run from, but some reason I feel like “downtown” is a lifestyle, a perfection in healthy relationships that I will never have.

“Are you writing about me?” My ex-boyfriend is calling from across the room.

“No,” I reply. “I stopped writing about you a few months ago.” (I’m a terrible liar, but he’s hungover so I don’t think he’s noticed this time.)

“Oh.” He says, looking neither pleased or displeased about it.

Looking at us I guess one would think this is a wildly unhealthy relationship. I know a lot of our friends do. We dated for a couple years, broke up, I would show up to events drunk, belligerent, hurt and angry, and he would put up with me. Then one day I got over it, we got back to being buddies, and now he shows up occasionally at night with food and we sit in my bed, watch TV, have dinner and chat. It’s as innocent as that, same as I would have a girlfriend over. But for some reason, everyone is convinced that in having him over I am refusing to move on. I disagree to an extent.

It might be weird, unhealthy even, but don’t all couples start off as friends? Why shouldn’t we finish as friends too? I know a lot of people aren’t as lucky as I have been with my relationships. I am friends with almost every one of my exes, talk to them regularly, want them to be happy. That sounds pretty healthy to me. But I know what my friends mean about this one in particular. I have somehow held on to the “convenience” of my old relationship while having none of the sex, rules or obligations. We’re friends, but it’s comforting as well, and I know for a fact that as long as I have nothing better going on he’ll still be around a bit more than is healthy.

We never had the “I need my apartment key back” chat. Well, we had it, some good six months after we broke up, and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to properly date anyone if he kept showing up. I remember having a guy over once and hearing a key turn in the lock around three a.m., and my blood froze. Was it him? It wasn’t, but the few seconds it took me to figure out that it was my roommate were the longest of my life. This needed to end. (Again.)

The next day I resolved to ask for my key back. I wound up not being able to do it; somewhere on the walk over to his bar I managed to lose my backbone. It took me hours to even bring it up, and when I did it came out all wrong. I was shaking, stuttering, bright red and terrified. I wasn’t sure of what… it’s not like he was going to say no and run away with it.

“Keep the key,” this voice said, as though a stranger was talking. “Keep it, but I need your word that you’re going to stop coming over. It’s… unhealthy.” At least I managed to say something.

He gave a weak smile and agreed. “I’m glad you’re moving on,” he said, winking. “I hope he’s nice.”

I beamed. “He is.”

And that was that.

Well, that wasn’t that. One by one, my dating endeavors haven’t worked out and I have allowed him to start using that key again. It’s just… easy. And comfortable. And if it’s not hurting anyone than what’s the problem? We don’t care. It may as well be visitation for the cat. And yet… I know our friends are right. I can’t keep having this conversation with him every time I start seeing someone, although I know he wouldn’t mind. Where’s the “healthy” line drawn between keeping your best friend after a break up and keeping the easiest aspects of a relationship’s comforting routine?

Clearly, I have no idea. And on top of that, I’m a liar.

“You’re typing a lot, are you still not writing about me?” he asks.

“Nope.” I reply, smirking.

2 comments
Matthew Sadorf
Matthew Sadorf

Ahh, so that's the Nacho Fairy...haha.  I see what you're saying and I see what you're friends are saying, but I would say that though it might shy towards the side of unhealthy, the fact that you know you will have a talk when you get into a relationship and that he will honor that talk, that there is healthy.  And really, I envy you. I envy you that you have someone that you can have that kind of closeness and friendship with without the awkward part of things.  Really life is to short to shut a great friend out, and life is about great friends, and the only thing wrong with this (in people's eyes) is that he is a he and you are a she. Also, as long as you keep the smirk on your face, you're doing something right.

Just Josh
Just Josh

Damn....That's a sad but beautiful thing

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