Lately I’ve been pondering the “getting to know you phase” of relationships. I don’t mean within friendships or casual flings, but the beginning of something both partners know will be great. Seeing as I’ve also been reading Charles Dickens, I think his character of David Copperfield phrases this period of time in the most eloquent, beautiful way possible. Wrapped up in his newfound love for his future wife, he states, “In our youthful ecstasy, I don’t think that we really looked before us or behind us; or had any aspiration beyond the ignorant present.”
Who hasn’t felt this initial bliss in the beginning of a relationship? In the first shy weeks and months of getting to know someone, I personally have never known such ignorance or felt so carefree. For that short window of time, what is there to worry for? What reason is there not to trust him, or him, me? Although it may be foolish, I love this time. Those little moments build a relationship.
The most important part of Dickens’ quote is that of looking forward or behind oneself. Relationships suffer when a couple begins to dwell or worry, something that I have found is so easy to do in college. Relationships move fast during these years, as do most things in our lives. Yet in these first hangouts, first conversations, first kisses and more, my tendency to worry dissipates as fog does on a warm morning. I become elated as my feelings begin to develop, and there is no future or past besides what I’m feeling at that moment.
Unfortunately, that moment is never meant to last. Life begins to get in the way. Past wounds and insecurities begin to resurface, and I worry for what is to come. I live eight hundred miles away from Florida, which usually means four months apart in the summer. I wonder if, in a school of 50,000 students, there could possibly be someone better for me. The trials and tribulations of my past and those that may come in the future begin to weigh heavy on me. That blissfulness I felt so strongly in the beginning simply fades away. All of that is only on my end and occurs somewhat in unison with the issues my partner may be hiding. Someone usually begins to pull away, and things fall apart. And so it goes.
This process is sad, but I have accepted that it is a part of life. Ignorance is never meant to last, but the preservation of that bliss is attainable. How? I’m not sure I can say. I firmly believe that when I can finally make that bliss last, I will enjoy a fruitful, happy relationship. For now, I can consume myself in the present, ignorant or not, and do my best to not look forward or behind me. After all, we have no promise of tomorrow, just the moment we are in right now.
It’s true that I’ve never been able to make the getting to know you phase last. The ignorant happiness fades for me sometimes, and sometimes it fades for the person I’m with. Yet with the ups and downs of my relationships, and as each love takes fire and eventually burns out, I am gifted with one thing. Those first euphoric moments are branded into my memory, never to be taken away. I will always remember the time when that person was just a stranger, getting to know the person that I am. I will never forget the beautiful parts I got to see in others before the foolish happiness began to fade. Those memories are more than enough to keep me open to love and optimistic for all the love I have in store.