I’m an absolute sucker for a gooey, heart-string-tugging romantic story. Like most people, growing up on a diet of Disney movies and American sitcoms totally moulded my brain into embracing OTT corniness in every form.
However, amidst all the indulgent lover-bird tales, ‘how we met’ stories always seem to disappoint me. They are more often than not a complete snooze fest at the risk of sounding like a total curmudgeon.
Maybe I’m friends with boring people (sorry, gang), but I genuinely don’t know anyone with an interesting ‘how we met’ story. It always either involves a party, the apps, through a friend-of-a-friend – there are so few ways they play out. My boyfriend and I of 4 years met at uni. I wish so painfully that we met in a more interesting way, but we are unfortunately painfully average humans. I wish it went something along the lines of meeting by chance at a station in Barcelona, only to lock eyes and be separated by our departing trains, to meet again at the same platform many years later, or something like that.
And there’s nothing wrong with boring ‘how we met’ stories in theory – it’s just that we’re taught to romanticise the ‘how we met’ element of relationships so dang much. I feel like there’s so much pressure to say something mindblowing every time the question pops up. It’s definitely the natural first question to ask when chatting with a couple about their relationship at large. However, I feel like it’s the equivalent of asking ‘how’s your week been?’ when making small talk with a colleague. It’s polite, friendly, and usually asked with genuine care, but it’s usually met with an underwhelming response.
The way we’re meeting has changed so much over the years too. According to a recent study conducted by Telstra around young people and love, 61% of 18-34-year-olds admitted to using Tinder to find love, with another 39% actively using Bumble to meet potential partners. 46% admit to using the IG DM slide as a way in with a crush too, so tech is clearly the dominant way in which we’re forming our relationships.
“Not too long ago, clients were coming into my sessions and confessing that they had met someone online and joking that they would never tell their grandkids. Online dating shed its little cloak of shame, and we’re really comfortable telling people now,” said Charlene Neuhoff (owner and principal psychologist at RewireMe), during a panel we conducted discussing the impacts of the internet on modern dating.
It’s clear that the pressure to meet someone ‘perfectly’ runs deep and has always existed. If there was a shame involved with meeting people online only 5 years ago, clearly there’s a form of underlying judgement society has with picking apart the dynamics of people’s relationships.
Maybe now that we’re all so comfortable with online dating, it’ll change the course of how we approach the ‘how we met’ narrative too. 69% of people said they would admit to having met their partner online in current times, so clearly, our mindset is evolving towards the ‘how we met’ shebang.
Despite what fairy tales told us, we’re all well aware that love at first sight does not exist. Okay, maybe it does, but it’s like the case for about 0.00001% of people. Good for them, honestly. I do believe in the idea that you can lay eyes on someone and be completely swept away by their charm, charisma and looks – that’s human nature – however, hardly any of those instances result in fulfilling relationships that eventually blossom into something beautiful.
The real nitty-gritty and interesting relationship stories come from the ‘how we actually became a thing’ part of the journey. That’s where the real tension, conflict and, of course, flirtatious nightmares/masterpieces come into play. It’s where the tales of IG story thirst traps, drafted messages and firey first dates happen.
Relationships are not these linear perfect things, so why would the way we meet be like that too? If we’re putting so much pressure on ourselves to have these fairy tale-esque meeting stories, then we’re pretty much setting ourselves up for disappointment in all of our relationships, which is a huge no from me. The beauty of love and all kinds of relationships is that we don’t know how they’ll pan out at the start, and sometimes the best things are born out of the messiest or most mundane starts.Image: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World