Strangers again

“He’s my unicorn”
At first I didn’t get what my friend meant.
“He’s the guy that I always dreamed about existing. Too perfect, making me happier than I thought possible. And I found him. And we’re finally together.

This is how my friend described her new boyfriend.  Though it was several years ago, that term has always stuck with me, probably because, I think that’s a very good way to put it.
Every relationship begins with a crush, an attraction.  The person of interest is a dream.  You could only WISH to be with them, to be their boy/girlfriend, to know everything about them, and grow with them. They are, a unicorn: “unbelievable”. Isn’t this the truth? No one goes into a relationship (seriously) with someone they’re not crazy about.

But sadly, at some point, this excitement, this appeal, this idea of perfection fades. Why?  You couldn’t WAIT to see them, to hear from them. You would give anything to be WITH them…  Somewhere along the line, the unicorn, just became a regular horse.  And it is because of this, in my opinion, that the majority of relationships out there do not last. He or she is no longer “that special” and so you both start to act differently, or do stupid things that eventually lead to breaking up.

To me, the saddest part about a relationship that did not work out, is the inevitable path both parties are on to become strangers.  They start out as strangers, grow to learn about each other, eventually become each others’ lives, and then break up, and return to being strangers again.  To think, that at some point, you knew when your bf/gf slept or woke up…what they ate for lunch…you knew their entire schedule of the week.  And then…  not even knowing where they are living anymore.  To me, that is so unfortunate, but it’s what we must all go through at some point.

I’ve been wanting to write about this for several months.  I went a little overboard and made a visual representation of a “typical” relationship…from rise, to demise.  Seeing it so plainly sorta depresses me since it’s quite familiar…but maybe it’ll help others who are going along the same path, and now seeing that, they’re not alone.

I know it may seem I’m extremely bitter/pessimistic for claiming this is the representation of “typical” relationships…but, i’m just keeping it real.  Honestly, most of us are not gonna be w/ ONE person forever, and you will break up (hate to break it to the high schoolers.  I too once was the starry eyed 17 yr old who had hopes of being “together forever”)  MOST people, in order to find their wife, will likely travel this path at some point w/ someone.  And if you don’t…then all the power too you, I’m extremely jealous.
So here it is…

(I’m gonna do this from the perspective of a boy, because…i’m a boy) (Also, I’m assuming no one cheated, beated, or did anything truly stupid that deems them unworthy of being counted as a meaningful relationship. Those are deal-breakers right there)

Stage 1: Everyone starts out as strangers.  You don’t kno who she’ll be, you don’t even know she exists right now.
Stage 2: By some chance, you meet her.  It could be through a mutual friend, online profile, a friend you’ve had for a long time and it’s just clicking, or a total stranger you bump into on the street.  Whatever it is…you meet her, and most importantly…you are attracted.
Stage 3: If she’s your type, and you click, you’ll find a way to keep talking and getting to know each other.  At some point, she’ll be the only person on your mind, you’ll always look forward to getting that call or text from her.  You flirt, your eyes always meet first in a crowded room…She is your unicorn.
Stage 4: If you make it here…congrats.  You have found someone, out of alllll the people in the world…who likes you the way you like her at the same time.  If you think about it, that’s quite a feat.  Make the right moves and she is now your girlfriend.  Lucky you, you are finally with the most awesomest, perfect girl to you. Thus begins the honeymoon stage as everyone knows it.  The beginning of the relationship when the two of you couldn’t be happier or more excited that you are together.
Stage 5: Time will pass, and whether you want to believe it or not, the fire won’t rage on.  But that’s ok, it’s only normal and healthy for each of you to simmer down and just be chill with each other.  This is when you get comfortable.  There’s no need to fake anything, you’ll be real, you’ll be honest.  Some fights might occur, some problems may arise, but that’s fine. Again, it’s only normal. What you do and where you go with those arguments and that comfortableness is what makes the difference into the next stage. (The comfortable stage is tricky because it could be very short, or very very long, years even, but you’ll never know until after it’s over)
Stage 6: For many, the problems persist, and despite trying to make up each time, you’re still arguing, upset, or dissatisfied with the relationship.  It’s only once in awhile that you two are actually totally happy, because most of the time…ur just tolerating each other.  This is the stage when most people say…”It’s not great, but it’s not bad”.  Btw that’s never a good description of a relationship. If you’re saying that, you’re probably headed for the next stage.
Stage 7: If you’ve gotten here, most likely there’s not much time left for the two of you.  There may be valiant efforts to save the relationship, but in the end, everything will add up and it’ll be too hard to keep it going.  Something was lost along the way and you can’t bring it back.  Usually both of you will be too afraid to make the final call…but one of you will.  It’s rarely completely mutual, but each case is of course different.  Most likely, both you and her won’t agree at the same exact moment to break it off, and this results in the “he broke up with me” or “she broke up with me” when it was really what both of you were thinking at some point. However, there are definitely the cases that are really one-sided, when she doesn’t see it coming at all, and you essentially “break her heart”. Those are the worst.
Stage 8: The Break Up.  Pretty self explanatory.  If you’re lucky, it’ll be on good terms.  Sometimes they’re long and drawn out.  Regardless of the duration or type…the relationship will end.
Stage 9: Assuming you were total strangers before…There will/must be a time of distance in order to heal.  You and her are coldly thrown back into a life null of each other, and it takes a while to adjust back. This is the most difficult part. (I could probably make a whole other subchart for this stage). Be strong. “Time heals all wounds”
Stage 10: Depending on your personality/support/life events…stage 9 will end after a certain amount of time.  You’ll either move on, or find someone new.  Usually the most common way people move on…is just finding someone new.  It’s not necessarily a rebound, but seeing that there’s another unicorn out there sorta makes the pain from the last one start to go away. Or you try to convince yourself that ur ex was never a unicorn in the first place.
Stage 11: If both of you are mature and have good hearts…the two of you will recall a time when you were very important to one another and a part of each others’ lives. This will undoubtedly cause you to sometimes think about them and how they’re doing.  As a result, once in a while you’ll send them an email, or message, or a call to say hello.  Maybe even catch up over coffee?  This might happen a few times, but after awhile, the time between will become longer and longer.  She’ll get a new boyfriend, so meeting up won’t be a priority. You might have a new girlfriend too. After some time…the two of you won’t be talking at all and will have totally lost touch, bringing you back to right where you started…
Strangers. After a few more months/yrs…everything the two of you went thru will feel like a dream that may or may not have happened.

Fork 1: At the end of the honeymoon stage, entering the comfortable stage is where a difference happens.  If you and her are truly right for each other…this stage lasts a very long time.  Once in awhile there are hiccups, but overall, you and her are trying to really make the relationship grow and last. It’s not easy…it takes work for sure.
If you can do this right, the relationship will mature.  The two of you will hopefully continue on for a very long time, and if everything falls into place…you could be headed towards true love and marriage.
Don’t get too comfortable though, because sometimes life throws curveballs and things might happen that totally catch you off guard. Priorities change as people grow and want new/different things…and you could find yourself at the “Tolerate Stage” and eventually “Downhill” even if the “Comfortble” stage was long and strong.

Fork 2: When the breakup happens, if the two of you were friends from before, or really really mature about it, the two of you might be able to bring it back to before the relationship started. There will still need to be time to heal and move on (usually it’ll be faster) and if you’re lucky, you’ll be friends again who can be cool and chill about everything that happened.  It’s rare, but it does happen.  Sadly though, you are still on the road to becoming strangers, because she will find someone new, and so will you…and just like anyone else, it won’t be as important to keep in touch as you’ll want to focus on your new relationship.

There’s technically another possibility, it’s for those people who go in circles. Break up, make up, break up, make up.  I chose not to draw it because those relationships are really dumb.  After the break up, they’ll get lonely, or think they can make it work this new time, and they’ll get back together.  At best, it’ll take them back to a short lived comfortable stage, and right into the middle of tolerate.  I know very few cases of them finding themselves on the path to long term. At some point, people in those scenarios just have to accept the fact that there are problems they can’t solve, and stick with their decisions and move on.

In conclusion….of course, my interpretation is not 100% correct (probably not even 80%, heh).  Everyone and every relationship is different and unique (sort of).  This is just loosely based on my experiences and those around me. I am also not “condemning” your relationship.  I would like to wish nothing but everlasting happiness between you and your significant other, for real.  It’s the most awesome thing if you can make it onto Fork 1 and end up at a loving marriage. We’re always growing, always learning, and I know we’ll all make it there =P.

Sorry for writing about relationships once again.  I, tend to do that… But I assume that most people out there have relationships on their mind a lot of the time. Myself included…and for me, until I make it onto that right path, all I’ve got are faded, segmented recollections of people who used to be the most important in my life…who are now essentially strangers…. damn

296 thoughts on “Strangers again

  1. its like an epiphanyI never thought that you would have been upset from lost relationships because of this celebrity image that you kind of have -That your ‘too cool’i feel that your more real now-wongfu fan australia

  2. 有句成语说,“情人眼中出西施“We are all blinded by love when we first experience it – simply, because, I’m guessing here, we only gather what we feel from a very superficial level if we were to follow your chart (the strangers – “unicorn” stage). We don’t know the person. People are funny in the sense that we subconsciously censor ourselves according to the people around us, the way we act or react is in accordance to how close we are with the opposite party. It’s kinda like a mental social distance, and I think that is the biggest factor in building up that image of a “unicorn” that we so hanker after. And if we were to psyche ourselves into thinking that they are that ~*unicorn*~, don’t we tend to miss their flaws?…Damn I feel so convoluted and I’m not even sure if you’re following me on my font diarrhea. …I also like how you put the Healing/Distance and Moved on bars longer than the rest, because I don’t know, shows the relationship chart through your eyes? Haha!(PS: Perhaps you should have a small bar aka “Trying to work it out”, because relationships requires two hands to clap…then it goes either downhill or works out etc but usually downhill.)(PPS: Good luck on the script, would love to see a new production of this…uh, relationship analysis.)Cheers,C

  3. i’ve never been a relationship but reading this would make me not want to go to a relationship but then there would be times that i’m curious.Right now, i’m 16 and as what I understand to this blog is that “never go to a relationship when you’re not yet mature”. mostly high schoolers and even close to my age would say “i’m already mature, that’s why i am in a relationship” but come to think of it that they’ll end up playing around and just break each others heart. So, Probably it is advisable to get into relationship if you’re already mature & might as well finish your studies first.😀 maybe most of you would think that, “she’s going to eat all those words, if she’ll find her unicorn, someday.” but i guess, maybe not.😀 haha.btw, nice blog😀 I know you’ll find your “sweeter song” you “unicorn” and your “forever” just keep on praying and she’s somewhere out there. We’ll never know😀

  4. fork 1 can have problems too. but it takes more effort to keep on the green track. good diagram though. i like it. relationships can be objectively analyzed like this. but when they get overanalyzed too much, you’ll never even find a unicorn. i guess it just depends on what you value more. being smart. or being “heart”.

  5. oh my. those are lovely pictures.your chart is very articulate. i like it. i think that each blossoming love is like opening the covers of a blank chapter/storybook. there’s a beginning, a middle, and the end varies like your chart predicts.. but before we reach our final product, there’s a lot of rough drafts in between..if you know what i mean.rough drafts are good. they help our story to grow, communicate better, and clarifies to us what we truly want the message of our story to be. most of all, they help us to pinpoint our distinct qualities, strengths and weaknesses, which gives way to other bits and pieces about ourselves and those around us.i know you’ll find your permanent unicorn.🙂 no need to be shy.personally, i think i’d rather have apples. or strawberries. or watermelon! :9they’re so much more nutritious and delicious. :9 they’re good to me, plus they make me happy.

  6. It’s a little weird reading this, probably because it is so accurate. It almost feels lke a diagnosis for a disease. “If you feel any of this symptoms, you might have this disease.” It’s a sad though, dreadfully sad, but inevitable.~
    I can’t wait for the short.🙂 It must be awesome, as always.

  7. Your flow chart happens b/c people have unrealistic expectations of the other person and what the relationship is suppose to be. In many cases, they ‘see’ what they want to see in the other person. When you put someone on a pedestal, you will eventually bring them down b/c they won’t live up to your expectations of them. “The bigger they are (you make them out to me in your mind), the harder they fall”Most people think that once the infatuation period is done, the love is gone, but that’s when it really starts. Most people confuse infatuation with love. People are often infatuated with the fantasy of who they think/want the person to be rather than who they really are, which takes time to learn.In my opinion, there are 3 elements to a good relationship. You, Me & Us. If one of those goes missing, it’s over. We all need to have our own separate lives, and have a life together. Even if you can’t be with the person all the time & know every detail, it’s important to know your and their values so everyone is clear on what they want and why their doing certain things.Good post

  8. Hi, just wanted to say that what you’ve written and drawn out here are essentially what happens in all relationships to a certain degree and even if no one admits it, everyone has gone through a similar path. I don’t think it’s pessimistic at all. Great job!

  9. Great chart. There are so many factors that come into play that determine the direction of relationships. You can find a great person that you just effortlessly click with, but if you don’t have good relationship skills, things can go poorly. Two people, after being together for a long time, can get really comfortable with each other. Then, this can eventually lead to neglecting each other and taking each other for granted. I think it is important that two people who are in a long-term relationship don’t spend so much time together. They should share some activities together, but other times they should spend time apart either by themselves or with others (e.g., family and friends). This way, things aren’t always predictable and when the couple is together, they can share the new, exciting things they have been doing while they were away from each other. Communication is very important as well. Problems in relationships that warrant discussion, should be communicated and not left to manifest into something worse. How you communicate is important, too. Your tone of voice and body language is as important if not more than the words you say to each other. Learning to not take everything personally, not forcing each other to change, and showing acceptance is helpful. Being grateful and appreciative of each other is also essential. Like you stated before, people change over time and certain circumstances test the strength of your bond, but if you have good relationship skills and make an effort to uphold your relationship that is worth keeping, then your bond can grow even stronger after the struggle.

  10. Loved the video Phil!! And this chart you drew out, very true. I know you’re probably very busy, but maybe in your spare time… would you mind drawing out this “subchart” of distance/healing after the breakup? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts…🙂 Wong Fu is amazing and keep up with the great work… I find your posts here to be very inspiring and thought-provoking, so don’t stop writing!!

  11. Just wanted to read the inspiration for you short, which was amazing, btw. It made me tear up.I don’t know why I’m writing this to you, but you seem like a person people can talk to and I thought it could maybe give you something to think about in terms of relationships, since it seems to be a topic of interest to you. ;)I was actually only crazy about my first boyfriend before we got together. He was the only one I went through all the stages with.My 2nd boyfriend was crazy about me, I was sick of how my asshole boyfriend treated me and I was sure boyfriend number 2 would treat me right (he did). I actually wasn’t even attracted to him at the time. Just thought I’d give a nice guy a shot at the girl he wanted. I fell for him hard over the course of our relationship. It’s been 3 or 4 years now, but we still talk from time to time and I still consider him one of my really good friends.My 3rd boyfriend was crazy about me, just got out of my relationship with my 2nd boyfriend (a somewhat mutual break up) and I chose boyfriend number 3 to cling to, to keep myself from falling apart. I loved him, but it was the love of a drowning person to her lifeboat. I don’t know if a friendship can be salvaged here. I know I was too selfish.My 4th boyfriend wasn’t super crazy about me but he had been interested in me for years. We were good friends, though I hadn’t even known how good at the time. I realize it now just how much I leaned on him. I hadn’t realized it before because he was never my go-to guy. He was my back-up go-to guy if my front liners fell short. I actually thought he was stupid, annoying, and immature and would insult him constantly, especially so through the several months of chasing he did right before we got together. Then two months after we hooked up I moved to Korea for work. We both knew it was coming but he decided to ask me to be his anyway. In the beginning we thought about putting things on pause while I was away but in 2 months we came to realize we didn’t want to think about anyone else. 8 months into my 1 year stay now and we’ve stopped all communications for the time being (my decision). I still tell people he’s my boyfriend but between me and him, we’re temporarily broken up until I come back home. I’d like to say that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he’ll wait through my selfishness, but I don’t. But I know that he wants to and that he’s a horribly persistent guy (it’s how he got me in the first place) and that’s enough to give me faith in our future.With boyfriends 2, 3, and 4, I don’t think we ever went through a tolerate stage. Number four, the honeymoon stage died for me in the first week though it’s lasted much longer for him. We never hit stage 3: comfortable. We’re somewhere in between. I’m not sure what you would categorize it as. I don’t feel like I know him well enough to be comfortable but the glamor has definitely worn off for me. But right now, even without the talking, it’s still sparks and effort for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and finally pushing yourself to make that video. I wish you the best of luck in your relationships.-Mai

  12. You know the most important thing is SOLVING your problems. Not every couple is meant to be, it’s all about communication, understanding, honestly, and open mindedness.

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