How to have a healthy relationship in eight steps

By GABI SWISTARA | October 4, 2018




1) It begins with poetry in a Tinder bio and a reason not to be together. It escalates when he asks if you’re spontaneous. 

Say I can be. He should say that he is spontaneous and tired of working. 

He will buy you a drink and within three hours, you will see the sheet he slumps over his old brown couch and the single sock on his bedroom floor. 

If you can’t picture him, think religious and pasty. Abs you just want to run your fingers over and arms that feel like a man’s. 

2) Do not spend the night — you need to go home and take your medicine. It won’t be long until you see him again. 

Within the first 36 hours of knowing each other, you will spend 27 together and every minute you spend with him gives him a part of your life and in return you get a part of his. It’s exciting and distracting. In class, headboards are banging the corners of your brain.

3) When the lights go out and you’re feeling his chest rise and fall on your own, breathing in the stuffy air, he’ll think it’s the right time to warn you that he snores. This, and talking about everything from The Iliad to Paris, is why sleep is hard to find with him. What will help is his torn blue shirt you’ll always sleep in that smells like sex and him. 

4) For a bachelor, he knows more about cooking than you do — like to cut the skin off of cucumbers. He always feeds you vegetables and water.

Then he does his nightly pull-ups which take forever when you need to get through the door. He’ll tease you for standing there and watching him. 

He’ll tease your A Place To Talk sweater and tell you that some chick was telling me about that. Ask who? He should say, “I don’t think you know her. Her name is Gabi,” and kiss you on the cheek. 

5) Go with the flow or whenever you want him. If sex therapy was a thing, you’d have weekly appointments. Get used to the commute between apartments and the smell of his sheets. Get used to being with him. Get used to being embraced when you say something stupid or fart in front of him. Your humanity is bound up in his. 

6) It’s him hugging your face to his chest while he’s on top of you; him rolling over in his sleep to swaddle you in the winter; his arm protecting you from a scary movie; reading for classes legs on legs, getting annoyed about reading Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and him questioning your annoyance to open you up; complaining about morning breath; kissing you on the sidewalk; and walking you to the bus stop. It’s not really about who is brought into your life but who you choose to keep there. 

7) You think love is when you’d touch their dirty socks. He thinks love is shitting in front of each other. Neither of you ever did. Piss, sure, that was normal. And you would sleep in his used underwear but you’d never touch his dirty socks. 

8) It ends with a personal trauma, a few thousand miles and a couple of dumb texts, but it’s something you’re not sad to look back on. 

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