As a rule, dreamers prefer to see the world, people and life, and, well, everything, really, through rose-coloured glasses. However, it would be more accurate to call them cracked rose-coloured glasses: though we are good at noticing, from afar the nitty-gritty details of the world, due to our idealism, our vision is often faulty and fractured when it comes to closer ground – namely, our own surroundings, and the people around us.
This is never more clearly illustrated than when we fall in love. For dreamers, falling in love is not merely an event, or even a celebration. Instead, it is the metaphorical equivalent of (at least in the early stages) two quivering metaphysical halves being brought together in a cataclysmic, extra-dimensional explosion, shooting atoms and sparkling bits of destiny in every direction in a burst of energy bright as a supernova. It is mind-blowing, life-shattering; it is the perfect feeding ground for one’s idealism. And feed it does. Upon entering into the relationship, the dreamer brings with her an idea of the ideal partnership, its various elements gleaned from films and books throughout her life, as well as her own imagination, to form a great big enormous heart-shaped bubble of expectation.
Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you see it – this bubble soon pops, as the realities of relationships, which the dreamer did not account for in his or her daydreams, sets in. Days are not spent in a steady stream of golden happiness; rather, the same responsibilities, the same tasks, from washing the dishes to taking out the trash, must still be done, whether you are in love or not, dragging the dreamer down to mundane reality after the initial love-high with a crash. Gradually, especially if you move in together, you acclimatise to each other, and, given enough time, your partner becomes as normal to be around as your own family. The day a dreamer finds herself (or himself; there are more male dreamers than you think) farting in her beloved presence without blushing is the day the last vestiges of her daydream dies.
More worrisome is the fact that, as the relationship further progresses, the dreamer’s partner transforms from an infallible creature into someone, well, less infallible. Someone awfully human, just like herself. And it is phenomenally disappointing. It’s easier to see the cracks in your rose-coloured glasses when you are looking up close at something. Some dreamers can’t help but feel as though they’ve been cheated, when, in reality, their beloved was the same person all along, only she tried to project a falsified, idealized image upon the existing creature, or her imagination erased any faults during the relationship’s honeymoon stage.
In who was initially a man or woman who could do no wrong, the dreamer begins to notice, with twinges of alarm, selfishness, brashness, laziness. Or it could be the opposite: the partner might, by way of contrast, highlight the dreamer’s selfishness, laziness, cowardice, and thus challenge her own idealised concept of herself. Emotions, like all things in nature, build up waste, and that waste, in relationships, manifests as disagreements. Arguments soon spring up, where one person likes or sees things one way, and the other person likes or sees things entirely differently, and the two are unable to agree to disagree.
There will be days when the dreamer is utterly bored of her partner, and can’t stand the very sight of him.
There will be other days when the two avoid each other, speaking only when necessary, and even then only in cold tones, which will make the dreamer’s heart wither even as her face hardens.
There will be days when her partner’s anger will scare her, for there is nothing more frightening than seeing the one you loved and placed on a pedestal acting brutish, mean, mouth open in a roar, faced contorted and ugly.
There will be moments of happiness, of course, and love, but mixed in with the sweet brew will be a bitter and hearty dose of misery, pain and heartache.
It is at this point in the relationship, when both have shown their true selves, their ugliness and flaws, and seen each other’s true selves, that the real work in building a relationship begins, and the dreamer reaches a crossroad. Many, at this stage, leave the relationship, with a huff and a pout, placing all the blame on her partner for not living up to her imagination, not realising that the best grass is just around the bend, past the pack of drooling trolls. Of course it is always a possibility that the partnership was an abusive, or incompatible one (dreamers are also at risk of remaining in bad relationships, a partner’s flaws either clouded by her imagination, or in the idealistic hope that “things will get better”) – but, in most cases, ordinary hiccups usual in most relationships are enough to convince a dreamer a break-up is necessary. Though it must be kept in mind that sometimes, even in the case of ordinary pet peeves, people are just unable to put up with particular traits or differences.
For the more mature (or tenacious) dreamers, who hang on despite having seen their partner red-faced and screaming in anger while sitting on the toilet, or been seen by her partner in the same unflattering state, “true love”, the centrepiece of so many daydreams, awaits. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and this is true for dreamers – to an extent. It is often dreamers who, three months after the break-up, regret most having split with their once-beloved. But the dreamer only yearns for him because, in his absence, due to her idealistic nature, she only remembers his good traits, the good times, the good memories. She sees him distantly, and thus the cracks are easier to ignore. To spend time with him again would once more bring the cloud plummeting back to earth.
For dreamers, and arguably most people, the old adage should be reversed: presence makes the heart grow fonder, as only through extended exposure with their loved one, flaws and all, riding in tandem the troughs and peaks of love and life, can true love, based on reality rather than fantasy, flourish.
And it may not be the true love most dreamers imagined as little girls or boys, lying in bed and staring up at the ceiling. To idealise is to distort, and distortion is always harmful, even when it is positive. Blown up to mythical proportions by one’s imagination, true love is elevated to a transcendent state, when it is anything but otherworldly. It is, in fact, when real and true, one of the most worldly experiences one can have. Sooner or later, if the dreamer is persistent, undeterred by discomfort, he or she discovers that love is no grand affair, no blare of trumpets, and sometimes not even the fluttery beat of a heart. It is much, much quieter, and less assuming. It is coming home after a long day and feeling happier upon seeing that particular person’s face. It is close to the affection one feels for one’s parents, one’s siblings – though not quite. It is lying next to your loved one while he or she is asleep and being deeply, deeply comforted by their breathing, their warm body.
It is no melding of souls – some corner of your beloved’s psyche shall always remain a mystery to you, and likewise you to him – but two minds delightfully grappling with each other for years, understanding and then not understanding, loving one minute, hating the next, bored the third, a beautiful dance that goes on and on, darting forward and skipping away, rather than two people pressed against each other, standing stock-still until the end of their days (where would the fun be in that?). It is sitting at the table and eating together for thousands of meals over the course of a lifetime. It is cleaning up vomit, pacing in the waiting room at the hospital, screams and shouts; it is cooking and cleaning, breaking and making, traveling and living; it is waking up next to someone that makes you deliriously happy and unbelievably annoyed; and it is kisses and hugs, and quiet moments at night when you sit or lie, side-by-side, and hold each other’s hand, stare into each other’s eyes, comforted, no matter how briefly, by the presence of another human who loves you to shield yourself against the chaos of the world and the darkness of the oblivion.
And yes, perhaps, for the especially stubborn dreamers, this kind of love is, compared to the romantic extravaganzas conjured by their imaginations, a little disappointing; but that is the nature of reality, my friend, and you can’t wriggle away from the fact that everything will always seem, look and feel a thousand times better inside your head. Yet there is a fragmented beauty to cracked glass absent in the perfectly smooth, a strange loveliness in the broken, half-repaired, the scattered pieces.
In the end, sweet dreamer, if you grow up a great, great deal, you will find that is far better to publish a book than envision the perfect novel in your mind, to live in a cottage on the ground than a castle in the sky, and to love and live with someone who will stand before you, in flesh-and-blood, with real arms to hold you, real eyes to look at you, than spin in the imaginary arms of a thousand princes or princesses.
Eventually, you will come to the conclusion that real experiences, no matter how mundane, are always more wonderful than the pretend. A real bird, fluttering softly in the cradle of your hands, is worth more than two imaginary peacocks in the bush. Relationships, and true love, like all of life, when actually experienced, is very, very ordinary – and thus, extraordinary.