Many a thesis has been written, I’m sure, on the damage Disney movies and romantic comedies have on the psyche of young girls. The amount of truth behind that is beyond me — I do, however, suspect I’m in the category of those who have succumbed to the temptation of trying too hard to make reality mirror all those terrible Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts movies I watched and loved as a pre-teen. You know, like “Pretty Woman.” Just kidding.
The biggest way this affects my life, I believe, is my sometimes extreme romanticism of holidays, and the way-too-high expectations I inevitably build up around them.
A couple weeks ago I asked Kevin what we should do for New Year’s Eve. I asked him almost rhetorically if he wanted to hang out, as if to say, “Of course you do! This will be our first New Year’s Eve together and of course it will be the most awesomely romantic evening ever.”
So you can imagine my surprise when he told me he already had plans.
A month earlier, he and his friends bought tickets to a concert featuring someone I’ve never heard of. On New Year’s Eve. He wasn’t sure what time the concert starts, but I knew unless it was in the middle of the day, my New Year’s Eve plans that had yet to develop but had already created unrealistic expectations in my head were pretty much shot. When he realized I was upset he brushed it off, saying, “It’s only New Year’s.”
The grievousness of this offensive remark took a few seconds to sink in before I said shakily, “It’s NOT just new years, it’s a big deal.” This statement was followed by a wave of fury that hit me when I numbly realized he had not in fact lived my life’s experiences, nor had he read my mind and known that I am big on holidays, a couple’s first New Year’s Eve being no exception.
He asked if I wanted to go to the concert.
“Yes,” I whined. He nodded, satisfied with this simple solution.
But this did not fix things the way I expected it to.
The next day at work, he and I were talking on gmail chat. “By the way,” he said, and sent me a link to the tickets site for the New Year’s Eve concert by the band I have never heard of.
He did it, I know, as some kind of thoughtful gesture, as if to say, “I still remember you were upset last night and I am being the best boyfriend ever right now by showing how much I am considering your feelings.”
What I heard instead was, “Here’s the link where you can buy your own $20 ticket to a miserable night of bitterness and resentment. There will also be a band you don’t know, and everyone you will be with will be far more excited than you are about them.”
I took an afternoon coffee break with a couple girls from work and explained the situation. They agreed there was not an easy way to work it out, but one thing they both knew immediately was that there was no way I should go to the concert.
“Do something fun with us that night instead,” said one of my friends.
I told them, no, I wanted to be wherever Kevin was going to be, so the concert was the new plan, for better or for worse.
But I knew they were right. I was furious about this concert already, and it was over two months away. I didn’t want to go, but I wanted to be with him.
On my way home that night, I thought about what I would have done if my ex had announced his plans for NYE, and what I would have done if I was horrified by them. I hated to admit it, but Old Me would probably have asked my ex to abandon his plans and do what I wanted to do instead. I’m not proud of it, but I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what would have gone down. And the worst part is, he would have done just that, because I was spoiled and he bent over backward to keep me happy.
But. That was Old Me. New Me is a 25-year-old adult, and adults are willing to compromise.
And that’s what I was determined to do. By the end of my commute, I had a solution. It wasn’t perfect, but it was mature and fair and about as close as I was going to get to being happy with the situation.
I talked it over with Christina, and she agreed this was probably the best I could hope for. She asked me why I was so nuts over the idea of New Year’s Eve anyway, and I couldn’t even answer the question. All this stress, with no real reasoning behind it. Story of my life.
“I think you’ve seen the ending of ‘When Harry Met Sally’ too many times,” Christina suggested.
“You may be on to something,” I said glumly.
And so it was decided. Instead of going to the concert, I will find a party to go to instead, and it will almost definitely be way more fun than said concert. No offense to those going. Just trust me on this. Then, the weekend after NYE, Kevin is taking me out somewhere for Fake NYE, the terms of which being:
- I get to dress up.
- It can’t be in his apartment or at my house.
- There will be a midnight kiss, even though it’s Fake NYE and is therefore a sham.
I sat him down a couple days later to talk about it.
“I don’t want to go to this concert, and believe me when I tell you, you don’t want me to go, either,” I explained. “I will walk into it determined to have a good time, but by the end of the night I will be miserable and bitter and I will make sure you know it. No one wants this.”
I laid out the terms of my alternative, and he listened carefully.
“It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and there doesn’t even have to be a restaurant involved. Just me and you, out on Fake New Year’s. Is that okay?”
He said it was, and I swelled with pride at my own mature handling of things. I am a grown up, dammit. I make thoughtful decisions and am willing to compromise. Bow before me and my badass diplomatic nature.
My dad says you’re not really a grown up until you start making your own dentist appointments. This might be a little bit true, but I think being an adult is more about thinking about other people, for a change. We can’t always get what we want, and more often than not, we probably shouldn’t. And that’s especially true when we have someone else’s wants to consider along with our own. I have a hard time with this sometimes, but this whole NYE thing may have actually been a blessing in disguise because it gave me a chance to really think about the concept of compromising. It sounds like an obvious thing to do, to compromise, but sometimes it’s harder than we expect. Kevin is a problem solver for sure, but it felt good to come up with this one on my own.
Any tales of compromise to share? I’d love to hear them. Bring on the win-win-win conflict resolution.