This one has a pretty big say in my romantic life.
I feel like I've reached the age where I've seen enough real life relationships succeed and fail to know what makes one work. A few years ago, during one of the times I was contemplating ending things with The Ex, someone told me that if we did break up it would be a successful relationship, that just because the relationship ends doesn't mean it's a failure. A failure, similarly, doesn't just mean the couple split; it could mean they've stopped being in a relationship but haven't split up because they don't have the guts.
Most of the last four months I've been head over heels crazy for one of my closest friends, and although I'd missed being in love and wanted to be with someone I could feel strongly for, the speed and intensity with which it all happened is very unlike me. I'm a cynic. I don't believe in love at first sight, soul mates or destiny. And yet there hasn't been a day since August that I haven't felt powerful. I have that I'm-in-love feeling every single day. No one's made me feel this way about myself before. It's pretty incredible. One of the biggest differences between this relationship and every other person I've been involved with (or know) is that we want the same things. Or values line up, which means there's no automatic end to the relationship. It's not like he's allergic to cats. Or wants kids. Or likes pulp. We have the chance to give it a shot and not assume we have an expiration date or that there would be some huge hurdle to work around. That makes me really relaxed and unconcerned about where it's going or what it means or what we're doing. The big stuff isn't a problem and it makes the little stuff seem... little.
There are things you can't force or fake in a relationship: a genuine interest in what the other person does, a genuine desire to be near him, attraction (and chemistry), a genuine desire to facilitate his life and an appreciation for him as a person. And then there are things you can force, or at least remind yourself to do every now and then: take on an extra chore, let him pick how you spend your Sunday together, use your manners and let the little things go. I'm a volatile person sometimes. I pick fights, I'll argue any point just because I can and I'm proud. I learned a long time ago that I need to put most of that on the back burner if I want to have a meaningful relationship. But it really helps when you genuinely want to make someone as happy as he makes you. And that my cat is just as smitten as I am.