True love takes empathy. Selflessness. Spontaneity. And countless other qualities that require you to make another person’s interests and well-being as important or even more important than your own.
When two people try to become one together, there are lots of ways things can go wrong. Most of the entanglements that begin with overflowing infatuation fail to learn how to love for the long haul. The blinding dopamine in a relationship’s first steps weakens, and the reality of learning to navigate life together through the normal, everyday stuff comes into focus. Occasional–and occasionally epic–fights creep in.
One argument you might not expect to have is about what to eat together, but it could be the most important disagreement you have. When it comes time for lunch or dinner, or fulfilling a late-night craving, if you’re with your significant other you’re probably going to at least try to figure out something that will satisfy both of you.
You think about things you both love. What you’re in the mood for and what they might want right now. What’s close. What kind of meal fits the moment: leisurely, expensive restaurant, fast-casual takeout, or something in-between. You narrow it down to a confident selection that will impress your soulmate…and then they reject it quickly and complete. You say: OK, what would you like to have, then?–trying to keep cool about the fact that you put a lot of thought into a loving, fitting choice and they hated it. They say: I don’t know. Thanks, super helpful.
You see, given enough time, you will have eaten at many of the restaurants where you live. You’ll have ordered most of the takeout or delivery you can get nearby. You won’t always be in the mood to try and blow your significant other away with your culinary skills preparing something homemade from a trendy cookbook. You won’t always have the finances or the time to have the chow you might really want at a given mealtime. And that’s just you. Your soulmate is going through their own cycle of tastes, expectations, disposable income, available time, and energy left to expend.
Deciding what to eat for a meal together becomes the epitome of the relationship as a whole. When the explosiveness of the new starts to turn into the steady-burning fire of the long-term, you have to continually learn and deepen your understanding of how to put the other person first. To be patient and listen. To be honest, communicative, and faithful. To work together towards a resolution that makes you happy–both individually and together.
Sometimes your wants and desires for a relationship are completely different than or even conflicting with your significant other’s–whether it’s about getting ice cream on the way home or the city you want to move to and whether or not you want to have kids together someday. If you can’t do it with the small stuff like meals, and use deciding what to eat as a crucible for deepening your relationship, you’ll never be able to do it with the big things.
So next time you’re able to have lunch or dinner together, stop for a moment and remind yourself that this is not only an opportunity to have something delicious with the person you care about most in world–it’s an opportunity to show them how much you care and enjoy the fruits of making your relationship stronger.
What are you two having for dinner?