We are perpetually spoonfed ideas about the 'perfect' relationship through the omnipresent media machine. We get constantly bombarded with on-screen images of picture-perfect, tandem-bike-riding couples playing the role of the sage and dishing out wise, clichéd gems such as, "When you know, you know" and "I've never been so sure of anything in my life" to their lovelorn but well-meaning token single friend.
The implication is clear: a healthy, long-lasting relationship is solid and unwavering, and free of any lingering doubts, because being 100 percent certain all of the time is an indication of the strength -- and let's face it, value -- of your relationship. Anything that falls below this unambiguous number requires re-appraisal.
In the season finale of Netflix's 'Master of None' (spoiler alert), the main character Dev, played by Aziz Ansari, finds himself in a lovers' quarrel with his long-term girlfriend Rachel, after attending a friend's wedding. He admits that he doesn't feel as confident that Rachel is the one for him compared to how his newly married friends feel about each other. The conversation leads them to assigning percentages of how sure they are of their relationship -- an ill-advised move that instigates their break-up after Rachel assigns a ranking of 70 percent compared to Dev's 80 percent. Rachel asserts that this is a good score and way above average, to which Dev retorts: "I wouldn't see a film if it was rated 70 percent on Rotten Tomatoes."
Dev then poignantly concludes: "If we're not at 100 percent, then what is the point?"
The 'Master of None' season finale is a clever dissection of the societal ideals that have been formulated, manufactured and swallowed up whole by the public. Although we shouldn't be looking to our screens for relationship advice in the first instance, it is undeniable that the oversaturation of these romantic notions has led us down the very slippery slope of equating any kind of doubt within a relationship as a negative.
But is anybody ever 100 percent sure of their relationship 100 percent of the time? Does this absolute, unequivocal certainty actually exist or is it just a quixotic ideal of mythological proportions perpetuated by the fantasy creation machine of Hollywood? And, more importantly, is not being 100 percent a valid reason to end your relationship?
I am about to get married. I vividly recall a friend talking about his own impending nuptials and how he had "never felt so sure about anything in his life". There's that line again.
I remember having a 'Dev' moment and thinking that I couldn't echo my friend's sentiment about "never feeling so sure about anything in my life" without being insincere. To acknowledge that there was any seed of doubt in my mind seemed like an admittance of weakness, because, as we are taught, harbouring any ounce of doubt is a bad omen for your relationship, right? And so I remained silent.
We all use other relationships as benchmarks for our own, whether they are real or manufactured in the movies or on television. When there is a disconnect between a facet of your own relationship and the messages being relayed around you, there is an immediate assumption that something isn't quite right.
In reality, every couple operates within different spheres: what works for one doesn't work for another. And what you see externally isn't always an accurate reflection of what lies beyond the façade. Many couples seem unwavering and solid -- and doubtless -- until they break up. (Sidenote: my friend ended up breaking up with his fiancée.)
What is a relationship without doubts and fears and uncertainty about the unknown future? It's petrifying not knowing if you will be with your partner forever but isn't this our reality? Isn't the real test of love taking a leap of faith and going all in despite not knowing all of the answers?
Operating at 100 percent certainty all of the time is not sustainable, nor realistic, and people should be encouraged to voice their doubts and have a real conversation with their partners instead of internalising these feelings because it doesn't conform to the romanticised notion of what a relationship should be.
It's okay to be realistic, it's okay not to have stars clouding your eyes, and it's okay to admit that the certainty in your relationship lies on a fluctuating continuum. There will be days when you can't imagine being apart from your significant other, and there will be days when you doubt everything. It doesn't mean your love matters any less or that it should be held in a lower regard, and it certainly doesn't mean that you should leave a perfectly healthy relationship.
While watching the 'Master of None' finale, I turned to my partner and said I'm not 100 percent.
I love him with all my heart and there is no one else I want to call my husband but I know that relationships are difficult and that you need to work exceptionally hard to make them work -- and even then it may not be enough.
I know that dreams and paths may diverge to the extent that there is very little chance of them meeting up again. I know that individuals are unpredictable and that it is sometimes difficult to understand our own selves, and to expect someone else to do so all of the time is a big, if not improbable, ask. I know other relationships that seemed strong and stable from the outside which have fallen apart in a spectacular fashion. I know that the most difficult years are likely still ahead of us.
I know all of this, which is why I can't say that I am 100 percent.
But it's not to say that I'm not going to give it 100 percent.