"I just love you."

Like most relationships, my boyfriend and I had some growing pains in the beginning. Between Year 2 and Year 4 in particular, we would alternate back and forth between being madly in love and madly at each other’s throats. We would have loud, public fights - both in front of our closest friends, as well as complete strangers - over the most ridiculous shit, like the merits of Scientology or the rules of Scrabble. Our relationship was a storm that we weathered from month-to-month. 

During our senior year of college, the stress of being in a long-term relationship intensified as we were faced with the impending reality of the real-world and what it would mean for the future of “us.” He stayed behind an extra year while I prepared myself for potential joblessness, and I was constantly on edge, possessive of all of his time, fearful that it was running out. The slightest comment would instigate a fight, and I honestly found myself counting down until the end. 

And then there was a shift. At some point in the middle of one particular fight, probably over something unimportant and obscure, he told me that he “just loved me.” And it was so ridiculous and unexpected, an excuse I couldn’t argue with, and we just looked at each other and laughed and the fight was over. Ever since then, it’s been our “out” during fights, which nowadays are rare and far between anyway.

Having an “out” for fights transformed our relationship. Holding onto anger is so exhausting, a tax on one’s emotions, and saying, “I just love you,” or something similar to cut the tension in the middle of a fight has allowed us to always skip to the end - the calm after the storm. More often than not our fights have been over the most trivial shit anyway, usually the consequence of one of us demanding to be right. But “being right” is never worth the argument, and having an “out” has been a great escape route from pointless arguments that aren’t worth the energy. Relationships already require a certain amount of energy and emotional investment to sustain long-term, without the added heaviness and resentment from fights. 

I love Chris. I have loved him without pause for the last 5.5 years. And some may question how it’s possible to be in an open relationship with someone I purport to love so much, but it’s because I have and will always choose him over everything else. I choose him over other men, over other sexual or intimate experiences, over my own anger, and over my own pride. 

And I know he chooses me too.