There are two landmarks, sort of, in friendships and relationships that I've been quietly apprehensive of ever since I've become aware of them.
The first one is the three-year mark. I've noticed that, whenever I become sort-of best friends with someone - I really mean be comfortable enough with someone to tell them stuff I wouldn't usually tell other people - the whole thing would last just around three years. By that point, either we drift apart, or in one particular case, there's a big fight and we just stop talking to each other. Yes, this is a leftover from when I publicly cared about not having my own circle of friends. I still do, but I'm tired of repeat myself on the blog, not that writing it all down makes my case. Either that, or we've all grown up and-slash-or gotten too busy to care about it. Or I've accepted that while I'll have people I'll choose to tell my problems to, I'll never really have a circle of friends at 31.
The second one is the eight-year mark. This one's trickier and a little more specific, but a little more vague because I've only seen this happen to someone, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't apply to everyone.
Back in high school, one of my teachers pretty much went down in the dumps. His girlfriend of eight years broke up with him, apparently. This girlfriend happened to be a fellow teacher at the same school - and she got in a relationship with yet another fellow teacher. So, yes, he was really distraught. At some point the ex moved schools (but not the new boyfriend) so that potential awkwardness always lingered on my mind, but what made a deeper impression was my teacher's advice to us. (I must say that he said this during break time, not during class. He was distraught, but he managed to hold himself together for the most part.) "Huwag ninyong patatagalin ng eight years," he said. "Kapag ganyang katagal, delikado na 'yan."
Today, Shalla and I mark eight years as a couple.
Should I be worried? I know I shouldn't, or at least don't really have a reason to. For one, each couple has their vagaries and differences, and while there are some broad notes every good relationship must hit, supposedly, the specifics aren't really something you ought to bother knowing. Also, we've pretty much moved in together thanks to the pandemic. We bought a mattress just last week. We're finally sleeping in one bed on a regular basis, and that's made us a little lazier on weekends.
But then, my teacher's advice was really about us not being complacent when we're in a long-term relationship. I guess he hated himself for being lulled into comfort. He thought forever was in the moment, but it was not going to be the case at all. Am I being complacent? We've had some conversations. We're doing things one step at a time. We just bought a mattress, for one. The bed frame will follow.
But then, one of my classmates was in a relationship of a few years when that break-up happened. They stayed together throughout college, and way after that, and now they're married, and with kids. Vagaries and differences. But am I being complacent?
Niko, don't overthink this.
Here's what I do know. When Shalla and I first got together, one of the first things I told her is that I intend to be with her forever. Actually, it was less romantic: something along the lines of "I only have one shot to get this right". And, well, it hasn't been perfect, but we've been working at this for the past eight years, so I guess that's one thing that works. As I expect more people to ask me about getting married and having children, it seems we have an unspoken agreement to enjoy things for a while. I mean, we've just had a bed.
I was looking to tweet something about today, but as always, I couldn't find selfies of us that look good. There aren't a lot of selfies to begin with. Understandable. I don't have a lot of photos of myself. I remember some photos we took during our trip to Hong Kong - doing it on a borrowed DSLR is pretty hard and scary - but she has most of them, so she did the posting. And then she told me that I wouldn't be posting them on Facebook anyway, because I don't really post photos outside of albums. And frankly, I don't post a lot on there at all. But, yeah, we've been having fun for the most part. There are photos to prove it, but not a lot, and not all of them have me - or her, more importantly - looking good. It isn't perfect, but if things go to plan, we'll have all the time to work it all out. We should have all the time to work it out.