During a recent night out with some of my girlfriends, I came up with a phrase that I’m going to pretend I coined but I’m sure I didn’t. “Relationship personality.” As in, my relationship with Gil has a totally different personality than my friend’s relationship with her husband.
Basically, it’s just the idea that every relationship has its own distinctive personality, made up not only of the personalities of the two people in it, but the energy that is created when those two mesh. Every relationship has a different personality, just like every person does.
Why are you telling me this Courtney? This is pretty obvious.
True. But I’m telling you because I don’t think it’s something we think about very often. At least I didn’t. Until I was sitting on the back patio of a trendy sushi bar with two girlfriends, recounting a story of an interaction with Gil, and they looked at me like I had just told them my boyfriend hits me. Or that I secretly collect his toenail clippings in a jar and store it under my bed.
They, as it turns out, have VERY different relationship personalities with their significant others than I do, and so to them the story I found funny and endearing was actually slightly horrifying. And it was all about nicknames.
Gil has a million weird nicknames for me. It’s actually really sweet and I love that about him – it makes me feel cherished. (Quick side note: I am not nearly as creative as him. He totally wins on the adorable, random nickname front.)
But back to the patio. I was telling them that one of his nicknames for me is “lumpy potato” and explaining how that came about. I honestly don’t even remember when or where “potato” came from, but he will occasionally refer to me as his “little potato” or “potato woman.” My guess – he saw me eat a potato once. Anyway, one day when I was in the kitchen wearing yoga pants that are probably a size too small at this point, he came up behind me, grabbed my butt and said, “Hey there, my lumpy potato.”
Now before you get offended on my behalf, understand that I immediately turned around and called him out on it. “LUMPY POTATO??!!” I squawked. “What the hell? Are you saying my butt is lumpy? You’re actually pointing out my cellulite??”
He took a step back. “Wait, what? Your what?”
I tried to explain to him that “lumpy” is not a word that women find complimentary, and that it was rude to call attention to the imperfections of one’s cottage cheese ass. He interrupted me to explain he was referring to my “lumps” AKA my butt and my tits. My lady lumps, if you will. Parts of me he is particularly fond of. And actually, that makes sense. My butt is his favorite thing about me, so there is no way he would intentionally insult it.
What do you do at that point but laugh? I know he loves me and loves my body (some days more than I do) and that he really meant it as a term of love and endearment, however unconventional his word choice. And now I like it. I like that I am his “lumpy potato” and his “chinchilla burrito” (because I’m so soft and I like to wrap myself in a blanket).
That’s all part of our relationship – it’s who we are as a couple. But based on the facial expressions of the women across from me, if one of their husbands called them “lumpy potato” it would probably lead to a few nights of him sleeping on the couch and some serious ground rules on acceptable nicknames. It’s all part of different relationship personalities.
I told the whole story to my friend Raena, including my theory on relationship personalities. She completed agreed, and was dying laughing over the potato story. She and her husband have a very similar relationship personality to me and Gil. Once she could breathe again she explained that she could totally relate and how one time at a party, in front of big group of people, he’d called her over and referred to her as his “pumpkin face.”
It was my turn to be in danger of peeing myself from laughing so hard. And it was the same story – he meant it as a sweet reference to something he loves about her – her round face. And apparently “pumpkin” was the first round thing that came to mind.
No wonder we get along so well with them when it’s all four of us hanging out – a pumpkin and a potato. And our eloquent men.
I’m not saying we can only get along with other couples who have the same “relationship personality” as we do, or that someone’s unique personality gets lost or absorbed into another if they are in a relationship – but it’s interesting to start noticing the DNA of relationships, and their distinct “personalities.”
When I think about all of my closest friends, I clearly understand where our personalities overlap, which elements compliment each other, how to handle certain situations based on their personality, etc. And I think the same must be true with different couples. But I’d never thought about it in the context of couples and relationships until that night at the sushi bar. Have you?