The Tender Trap

From 2014, for posterity, for friends going through a similar experience. Also found on Medium.

“I’ll love you forever,” he said, and it sounded like a death sentence.

I don’t know how it had gotten to this point. Almost three years ago, I was over the moon about him, from the moment I’d met him. My friends had gotten sick of me and my constant talk of his hair, his eyes, his mannerisms, groaning every time I brought him up. “Did I tell you that he smiled at me first?” “Yeah, yeah,” they’d say, eyes glazed over.

So when we’d gotten together, it was literally, many and repeated dreams come true. How lucky was I that it had worked out exactly the way I’d planned? Okay well, maybe not exactly, but really, did it matter?

I’d never been in a serious relationship before, and I discovered that it was difficult, even excruciatingly so at times. I didn’t know where all these feelings were coming from, much less what their names were.

But, miracles of miracles, here we still are, together. Friends who had opposed our getting together now marvel at how perfect we are for each other. “It really worked out, didn’t it?” They say, beaming as though they were the ones who arranged it all.

Everything works out on paper. We have similar interests, life goals, philosophies, looks — not similar enough to the point of narcissism or incest. We do practically everything together except shit, a marriage for all intents and purposes. But somehow, lately, it hadn’t been enough. The quirks that I had found so interesting became irritating. The desire for talking and closeness that had drawn me to him now felt stifling. The silliness that had once been endearing was now out of place, and I wished that he’d learn some sense of appropriate timing. While I was once insecure that he would leave me for another girl, I now sometimes found myself hoping that he would, just so I’d have an excuse to get out.

I don’t really know why I’d want to get out. There’s no abuse, no terrible dark secret. There’s no one else that would be a “better option.” Everything is wonderful, in comparison to the relationships I see among our friends or on television. In fact, even without any sort of comparison, it’s great. There’s communication, respect, thoughtfulness, admiration, patience, love; I really couldn’t ask for anything better.

Then why am I? There are days where every declaration of commitment and love makes me feel guilty. With every admission of “You’re the best thing in the world to me,” “I’ll always be here for you,” and “I adore you,” I’m pulled deeper and deeper into a snare of love and obligation, and I feel sick to my stomach.

They say that love is the tender trap, but somehow, I doubt that this is what they mean.