When it comes to relationships, most people I know are attempting 11th grade chemistry - trying to change their partner (and themselves) through a series of complex mathematical equations that result in a quasi-stable arrangement of give and take.
With bunsen burners.
The relationship provides the fire, and, rather than consider whether the elements (us) can stand the flames, we immediately try to adapt ourselves to the heat.
What results is a fucking fire-y mess. And baby, you know it burns.
Because what begins rather simply as a chemical attraction somehow becomes a scientific bartering system; an atomic-level tit-for-tat exchange that transforms the participants, not into the "ideal" 2 hydrogens + 1 oxygen = water equation - but rather into relationship mad scientists, running frantically about our romance labs, convinced that, if we just "get the right chemical combination" that somehow everything will work out.
If I just add this other element...but no...that leaves an extra ion...Oh no! It's unstable...better factor in the atomic weight...and drop the "t" and multiply by a mole and dance a muthafuckin' jig. "It'll work!," you swear. "It'll work, so help me G-d!"
Hair plastered to your brow, sweat beading at the temples, eyes red from weeks of poor sleep, you're barely aware you're grasping at straws: "If I am a base," you say, "and he is an acid, we'll balance each other out, see? Science!"
Because if you have to force it, change it, fix it?
Bitches, it's broken.
And no amount of mathematical jig dancing is gonna finagle you a proper match.
So let me enlighten you as to what will.
Everything you ever needed to know about romantic relationships, you knew when you were 4.
You just decided to complicate it when you got older.
Because you? Are an idiot.
By age 4 you had a basic command of language, motor movement, and the concept of "alike" and "different." As it turns out, this is really all you need.
Because that's all you need to play The Match Game.
And romantic relationships are really nothing more (or less) than The Match Game.
As anyone with good parents or an invested grandfather will remember, The Match Game was pretty straighforward. Pictures on cards: ice cream cone, fire truck, circus seal. You shuffle the cards, turn their faces to the floor and draw two, trying to make a pair. If the pair don't match? You put 'em back.
Simple as that.
Relationships are just the same.
Forget the fucking "I'm a base, he's an acid, we balance each other out" mentality.
It's bullshit, and it's not about balance. It's about SAME.
Same behaviors. Same likes. Same dislikes. Same values.
4 year old you knew all about same. Adult you? Is still trying to do chemistry. And why? You KNOW you're gonna fail. You're not even that good at math.
4 year old you was completely aware of him/herself. 4 year old you knew exactly what s/he wanted and when. Because that's what 4 year olds do.
So when 4 year old you drew an ice cream cone, s/he knew s/he was looking for another ice cream cone. Not a fire truck. Not a circus seal. AN ICE CREAM CONE.
But...but...you sputter, "I like fire trucks. I like the hook and ladder. And...I know I'm an ice cream cone, and she's a fire truck, but I'm sure we can make it work..."
Oh you can, can you?
First of all, 4 year old you calls "bullshit" and says ice cream cone DOES NOT MATCH fire truck, and demands you put the card back. But let's come back to 4 year old you, as he is obviously so far ahead of your present curve.
You like the fire truck do you? Nice hook and ladder system eh?
"Yeah," you say, shrugging your shoulders. "And, I mean, she puts out fires in houses, and, as an ice cream cone I put out fires in people's mouths so...you know...it can work, right? If I just..."
My G-d you're an idiot.
NO. It can't.
Because you may like her hook and ladder, but at the end of the day, she's a fire truck and you're an ice cream cone. And when you start to drip? She's gonna think you're gross. And when you hear her siren? You're gonna wanna bail. Pronto.
Why? Because like matches like, and she is not a match to you.
A cone is a cone and a truck is a truck and a circus seal is a circus seal. Ain't nuthin' gonna change that.
And the sooner you get that 4 year old wisdom through your 11th grade skull, the happier you'll be.
Start looking for someone who already matches you - because, like it or not, we choose how we grow. And if you grow to be a to-bed early, conservative Christian who likes to eat healthy, a gorgeous up-all-night, liberal agnostic with an addiction to cake is not a good match for you. No matter how much you like her hook and ladder.
Stop hunting for someone you have to change. Or who has to change you.
Start looking for someone whose waffle cone matches yours. Someone who'll understand when you drip, 'cause she does too. Someone who looks great in sprinkles and, even though she can't take the heat, she makes you smile whenever you think of her Rocky Road.
A fire truck shoots water and a circus seal swims in it. But that's one ugly fucking baby, if you think about it.
On the other hand, if you're a chocolate vanilla swirl and she's a strawberry, then you've got yourself a Neapolitan.
And that sounds fucking delicious.
No matter how old you are.