If you type ‘#couplegoals’ into the search bar on any social media platform, I’m pretty sure you will be met with about a zillion photos, videos and memes of people kissing standing on cliffs, happy engagement photos, wedded bliss, sunshine, rainbows, roses, Sunday morning coffees. Basically its a whole lot of people looking beautiful, happy and well, in love. Of course, this isn’t inaccurate – and all of those things do demonstrate some of the great things about being in a couple but I’ve come to think the real #couplegoals are something that can’t really be displayed in an image with a ‘#’.
One of my friends was telling me a story the other day; she’d just had her wisdom teeth taken out and her mouth was all numb and frozen. They’d been eating dinner and her fiancé had gone ‘erm….Sarah you’ve got some food on your face..’ before wiping it off for her. ‘I was mortified’ she said ‘I was dribbling. How can he still find me attractive after that!?’ If you were going to ask me what real #couplegoals are I’d say this was a pretty good example; definitely somewhere between wiping food of someone’s numb post-wisdom-tooth-removal-op face and one of those sunset Instagram posts.
The thing is, so much of what you see representing ‘love’ is only a snapshot of what it’s really about - and what makes it last. Love isn’t the grand romantic gestures - don’t get me wrong I love a bunch of roses as much as the next girl...and would probably moan if I didn’t get any! But it’s not the fancy holidays, or the matching hot bods, or the endless sex. Those things are like the icing on a cake. The cake itself is made up of much deeper stuff that mostly doesn’t look as good in an Instagram post. It’s about accepting someone for who they are – where they are. With all their quirks and imperfections – and the fact they drive you mad with their obsession with x/y/z. Sticking together through the hard times and talking about it, even when you don’t want to. It’s about not abandoning (or jumping) ship at the first sign of trouble. It’s about what you give – not what you get and most importantly of all, it’s about trust and loyalty.
My grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last September, my Mum and dad had been married 30 years in June and my other grandparents were married 50 years before my Grandmother passed away. My parents are gloriously unromantic and my family may be a chaotic, disorganised, noisy bunch – but turns out we do know a lot about love and the importance of loyalty. My Dad has always worked in Television – which means a lot of time away from home. My Mum married him knowing full well he was never going to be happy in the 9-5. She loved him as he was, kept her promise and has never stopped him, even when it meant sometimes she had to tackle raising 3 kids alone. On the other hand, I have never once seen her question or worry for his loyalty or fidelity to her, even when he was away for months on end in glamourous TV locations. My parents, by their own admission, would never say they have a perfect marriage, but for 35 years they have had absolute 100% trust and if that isn’t #couplegoals - I don’t know what is.
The first time I fell in love I was a 10 year old ginger kid with goofy teeth. It was year 5, he was the class clown and one of the naughty kids (the ‘bad boy’ thing starts young…). I was a goody two shoes and offered to stay in at lunchtime to help him catch up with his homework. I even took it home one night and did it alongside my own so he wouldn’t get into trouble. He made me laugh and I thought he was wonderful. Alas, a cruel lesson was to be learnt young when he declared his undying love for another girl at the year 6 school disco. Two years later he called me up and asked to go out – I said I was too busy at the stables. This was a lie and 13 year old me was just too shy to go on a date. Alex died in 2012 at 23 and at his funeral it was clear I wasn’t the only person who had loved his humour and free spirit. I was very proud of 10 year old me that day.
They say there are two things in life that never lie – kids and leggings. From my own personal obsession with leggings I can strongly vouch that this is true. When you’re a kid, you’re the most you you’re ever going to be. It’s before you have any real social awareness and that crippling teenage self-consciousness is yet to arrive. 10 year old me just wanted to help – because that’s what I knew love to be; if you care about someone you’re nice to them, you look after them and you help them out right? So that’s what I did. As we grow up and get hurt, it can get blurry. Our defences come up and a layer of fear settles, making things seem far more complicated than they really are. We get scared and allowing yourself to care can feel vulnerable; ‘no way am I telling someone I like them – I’d rather eat my own hand thanks.’ But when you strip it back, that’s all love is really – caring about someone else.
It’s not about your ego either – which is where you like another person because they make you feel good about yourself (ahem see Love Island if you need examples..). Hot sex comes and goes (no pun intended..) and it is important; you can’t have a relationship without sex - but you can have sex without a relationship. So really, even though we all moan about being in the ‘friendzone’ – anything real really does boil down to friendship. People get so tangled up in their love lives because they forget to treat that person with the same respect they would a friend. You don’t do things to upset you’re friends, there’s no power struggle or game playing – so why would that be any different with your relationship?
My parents really are the most unromantic people on earth. I constantly have to remind my dad when its mums' birthday…and you should probably at least buy her a card Dad. My mums' profile picture on Whatsapp is a selfie she took with a goat in Menorca 2 years ago and my Dads is of him at the top of a snowy mountain. They’re best mates – they would fiercely defend each other if they had to and every single struggle has been tackled as a team. There’s no hero worship either – or secrets (believe me I’ve tried; ‘Hi Dad, don’t tell mum but…’ – doesn’t work. I get a phonecall half an hour later.. ‘Sophie you’ve done WHAT..!!?’. It’s very annoying - but their honesty and loyalty to each other, although it may not be very glamorous or exciting, is most definitely more #couplegoals than anything I’ve ever seen on social media.