I was not aware when I joined the world of dating how competitive it would be. I don’t mean between individuals and their potential partners – I think social media and all the various dating apps have taken care of that (maybe, I don’t know, I’ve been out of the game awhile). I’m talking about the endless secret competitions that go on between couples.
You may be asking yourself, “But Brian, haven’t you seen any TV show or movie with more than one couple in it?”
But, much like the wizarding world, I chalked up all the cliches of initially unintentional leading to reluctant climaxing to bloody sitcom couple brawls to nothing more than creative fantasy. People don’t really get into bench-clearing family knockouts over whose house has the best Christmas lights, do they? I’m starting to think they do.
More and more as the girlfriend and I spend time around other couples, I pick up on subtle little reactions and insinuations from those we’re around should something tip the contest in our favor. A cutting of the eyes at a boyfriend if I hold a door or offer a portion of dinner and he fails to do the same. A need to one up whatever story has just been told.
“Oh, he surprised you with tickets to a football game? How cute. We’re spending a month seeing her family across the country next week.”
I even caught myself doing it when her sister in law became pregnant and my first response was, “I hope it’s not a boy because I really wanted us to be the ones to give your dad his first grandson.” Am I in any sort of position to be handing anybody grandchildren? Hell no. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to win yet another contest that nobody mentioned but everyone seemed to be aware of.
I never experienced this in college. Going out with other couples in college wasn’t about who could be the best host, or whose lives were the most successful. It was about escaping the hell that is undergrad and enjoying the company of some kindred spirits in exclusivity in a world full of debaucherous sexual exploits. It was about not knowing whose party we were going to go to so we went to neither and got drunk with one of the three couples we knew. Nobody asked what your five year plan was, nobody cared whether you saw yourself staying here or moving, and nobody took it personally if the significant other of someone in the group happened to be sporting a better present than everyone else. We understood the struggle and were just grateful for others to share it with.
So I’d like to take this time to announce my retirement from the arena of competitive coupling. Before it consumes me and I start worrying about how much better my girlfriend and I look compared to all the other couples in the tagged photo, I’m bowing out. I want no more. I don’t care how many kids you have, when you got married, or where you went wine tasting last month. I’mma do me, I’mma stick to my plan, and if anybody else wants to come along, great. But don’t ask me to come out with you and your girlfriend if all I have to look forward to is a tandem pissing contest. .