After New Year’s celebrations are over and January’s festivities have come and gone by, February is back. And so is Valentine’s Day. Adverts for the month of love show hotel and restaurant deals for the ‘Most Romantic Place’ to take your partner.
I look to my right and see my girlfriend, scrolling through random social media posts on her phone and thought about how little I knew about love and relationships before and after I met her.
My father taught me how to love
My dad is the most unromantic person that I know. Growing up of Chinese descent, his own parents believed in the strength of arranged marriages, particularly of those between a man and a woman.
While today’s modern love shuns the traditional beliefs of arranged marriages, a ‘traditional marriage’ in his definition was still very much a heterosexual one. I came out to my parents about 10 years ago and they still pretend it never happened.
My parents have been married for almost 30 years. My mum told me he only bought her flowers once, and it wasn’t even a proper bouquet. It was just a bunch of flowers wrapped in string he got from the market. It took him a few years before he even remembered her birthday. Sometimes, he even forgets their anniversary.
He deliberately does things to frustrate her and like any relationship, they have their arguments. They bicker 80% of the time and he makes the same mistakes over and over. I never got why my mum put up with him and all his mischief for the past 30 years.
It was the kind of relationship I silently aspired NEVER to have.
And then I met my girlfriend
Our first conversation that night lasted hours. And I couldn’t be happier. It was one of the best, most brutally honest conversation that I’ve ever had with a person in a long, long time. She was amazing at answering thoughtfully and asking questions to carry on the conversation.
Time flew by so quickly I almost didn’t notice how late it was before it was time to go home. The conversation that night led to our first date and our first film together. We went to watch ‘The Lobster’, where the concept of being ‘single’ and being in a relationship through perfect matchmaking was a theme that was explored throughout. What a lonely and miserable life that must be.
Then it was a series of dates. I loved it. I enjoyed every second of the chase, the anticipation of the first kiss, the text messaging, the phones calls, everything. The first stage in dating involves rooftop bars and drinks, brunching and dining in the newest restaurants, movie nights and nights of fucking until dawn. I was behaving like a teenager again.
Flirting is always fun, the early stages of a relationship, or ‘the chase’, as my close friends would call it. You’re in the state of “Will she?” or “Won’t she?”. The first time you hold hands, the first time you kiss, the first time for everything. Every experience is new.
The thing about these dating experiences, before you fall in love, before everything becomes more real, is that you wake up, get dressed, put on some make up, and leave the house to pick up your date (or wait until she comes over to pick you up). You behave during the date because you’re supposed to. You cherish and you savour each other’s presence within those few hours because that’s all the time you have.
Then you kiss each other goodnight and you drive home, alone. At home you remove your makeup, you review how your day went and perhaps text your date to say what a wonderful time you had. Or that she looks beautiful or hot or anything in between.
An anniversary comes once a year.
Flowers and bouquets last for a few days and withers. Being in a long-term relationship and living together is raw and real and absurd in every sense but it’s the best. You share your lives together and that person becomes a part of what makes every day special, because it is.
So this is what true love is like, regardless of gender or sexuality. Despite ‘traditional marriage’ beliefs, if love involved care, trust, understanding, forgiveness, and little moments that take your breath away, then what is so wrong about being in a gay relationship?
One of the first things my parents mentioned when I first came out to them was what my relatives would think if they knew I was a lesbian. ‘What if they were to find out? What would they think? Do we need to remind you that we are a traditional family? It would be a disgrace.’
As if being gay was even worse than being straight and pregnant before marriage (which is seen as another big taboo in Thailand). Everything was best kept as a secret or swept under a rug.
I just celebrated a loving and quiet anniversary with my girlfriend and look back on everything we’ve been through.
Although right now she and I are ‘in the closet’, our relationship is real. We met. We went on dates. We fell in love. We fought. We texted. We laughed and we cried. And just like any other relationship, it does not have to be perfect, but it is romantic enough.
Amateur writer with a love for film, coffee, food, photography, books, dogs, and horse riding (not necessarily in that order). She currently lives in London with her girlfriend and often misses the sunshine back home.