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love out loud: “summer finn” syndrome

(500) Days of Summer has become something of a go-to for background noise for me. I often don’t like silence, and have long since had a habit of answering emails and editing articles whilst watching TV, which culminates in my wanting to have some kind of chatter as I work away on my laptop. (500) Days works particularly well as I’ve seen it enough times to keep up with the story line when I occasionally tune back in, has a good soundtrack, and doesn’t have any characters with particularly offensive voices or dialogue.

Pretty much every time I finish watching it, I remember the first time I ever saw the film: I was in San Francisco and felt like watching a movie on this particular evening. I’d seen the trailer for (500) Days in San Diego some days earlier and, entranced by it, I resolved to see it as soon as it came out.

So I walked over to a cinema not far from my hostel and settled in for an hour and a half of easy-yet-thoughtful viewing.

I don’t remember much about the cinema, other than there being people waiting in line to see a 3D movie as I exited, or where it was, other than passing a Starbucks on my way back to the hostel (which doesn’t narrow it down much). But I do remember how I felt afterwards.

This was back in mid-2009; I’d gone to the States to travel for a month before beginning my exchange in Arizona. Bono and I had ended things earlier in the year, and (500) Days was something of a throwback to those feelings of being with someone who never wanted to be with me in the way that I wanted to be with him.

The details of this liaison are rather inconsequential for the purposes of this column, but suffice to say that I, much like Tom, wanted Bono (or Summer, as Tom’s case may be) to call me his partner and offer me the kind of false security that comes with promises like, ‘I want to be with you forever’. I knew that such words can’t prevent someone’s feelings changing, but hearing them still makes you feel safer than an outright refusal to label your relationship.

Many of my friends have been through similar experiences of being with someone and dancing around labels and commitments. As we’re all getting older, I’ve noticed that many of my peers are much quicker to explicitly say what they’re looking for, so as to avoid situations where they’re willing to be jerked around because they like someone. But back in the (not so long ago) day, this uncertainty about a relationship status seemed like a necessary obstacle to getting into a relationship at all.

It wasn’t until I met Julio that I realised relationships aren’t meant to be so hard, and certainly not in the beginning. That’s not to say that we never have problems, but just establishing that we liked each other and wanted to only be with one another was one of the first, and easiest, things to happen between us. When I was with Bono, however, this notion that we might be a monogamous couple in name rather than just in practice always seemed like a ridiculous expectation on my behalf whenever we spoke about it.

I try to avoid blanket statements, as I know that there is always room for individual interpretation and that there are exceptions to every rule. Like the person who didn’t want to be in a serious relationship, had a one night stand, and then married that person. But most of the time, if someone is insistent that they don’t want to be in a relationship, that probably means that they don’t want to be in a relationship (either with you specifically, or with anyone generally). It can be tempting to think that we’ll be the amazing force in their life that reforms them and makes them believe in love again, but you should know you’re amazing without needing this kind of approval from someone else.

Wanting to be someone’s girlfriend/boyfriend/whatever isn’t a bad thing, and it’s not an absurd request either. And if it’s denied, it can make you feel like shit, though not nearly as shit as spending almost a year chasing someone who won’t be “caught”.

If just getting into a relationship with someone is difficult, then chances are they’re not the right person for you. Cut your losses and find someone with whom it all feels lovely and easy; the course of true love may never have run smooth, but the course of those early honeymoon days sure should.

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