At a certain point, fucking became the primary thing we talk about when it comes to relationships. This frenetic, soft-glowing, buzzing of a Gchat or group text asking me for counsel in the wee hours is a lovely sort of communion I have with my friends of all genders. I cherish it, and I hold dear the opportunity to support my friends in their romantic lives and sexual adventures. I imagine myself embodying a Cool Auntie in these situations, a loving presence, but one who will warn you in no uncertain terms not to engage with fuckery (And will always implore you to be safe!). In part, my openness to talk about fucking in Brooklyn–and elsewhere–is a labor of love. Because, personally, it is not all that important to me; it matters to the people around me, so it matters to me too.

I’ve been in a serious relationship since I landed in Brooklyn and there is nothing better. For me, fucking has never been in the forefront of mind, even before I entered into my current relationship almost two years ago. Like so many relationships, mine was extremely unplanned and mostly happened by coincidence. I’d just moved to New York to work at a magazine (fulfilling that cliche) when I met up with someone who was only an acquaintance at the time. We hit it off and started spending time together. Then, almost dizzyingly, these bits of time accumulated into deeper intimacy. This was partially because we’d long had mutual interests and friends. It was just too easy to be with each other.

But there was this: My beautiful man was no stranger to loss or trauma. His previous partner was lost to suicide, something I’d known, and yet, never fully considered until it was clear a serious relationship was manifesting between us. I’d been insulated from meaningfully confronting what it would be like to survive a loved one’s suicide due to fact that I simply didn’t have to. Once I fell in love with him though, it became impossible not to map the contours of this loss.

Eventually, I found myself alienated from the conversation, wishing that I could talk to my friends about the details of my relationship the way we talk about their relationships, their sex lives. I found myself a little bitter, and incredulous that fucking could be the end all and be all of what we talk about when it comes to our relationships. What about literally everything else? If it’s not sexy, is it still up for discussion?

***

Fucking is what we should be talking about as young people. It makes a lot of sense that we would want to; it’s vital, exciting, and pleasurable. By contrast, the weight of grief is an unseemly burden when you are young. People are palpably uncomfortable with the idea of loss in the context of youth; we can’t stand to think about parents outliving their children because it’s so wrong. Young lives full of unspent potential shouldn’t come to an early end–it violates some sort of natural order. When we lose young life, it’s sad to dwell on the loss, but more dangerously, it forces you to consider, if just for a moment, the possibility of loss touching you out order. There’s a certain privilege in never having to perform that calculus.

There are the expected things about dating someone who has been through this–that healing takes time, that supporting someone through loss can be draining, that suicide is a taboo topic. But then there are the unexpected things like the way his ex’s mother looks so small at the one year memorial service, the way the holidays can feel like living with a ghost, the way people look at you for stepping into a relationship with him, like that. All of which I wish I could talk to my friends about. But I don’t. Not really.

***

Honestly, I think each of us deserves a medal in love. It’s hard out here. But often, I find myself wishing we were able to talk about all of our battles. No matter what they look like, and even if they’re not sexy. Even if they’re ugly. I want to hear about fucking in the context of Tinder or the social networks that cultivate scarcity and anxiety in this dumb town (Naming things out loud takes away their power, often). I also want to hear about trauma in the context of love and relationships, I want my friends to know that we can talk about their ugly. We’re literally all ugly, and I think we should talk about it if we want to. I’m tired of hearing about my friends and their friends or lovers suffering in isolation, a story that has become far too familiar.

I want to talk about fucking, and love, and death and the violences we all live with daily with as much ease as those harms are inflicted upon us. Don’t we owe each other at least that much? Of course it’s hard to take time and space for each other. It’s uncomfortable and messy and we don’t always have the capacity. It’s easier to talk about fucking, surface stuff. But recently, I’ve acted with the certainty that whatever community I want to build will move with intention when it comes to holding each other down.

Sometimes, when I feel pessimistic, I ask myself how we learn to talk to one another when we are constantly sharing curated microfacets of our lives online? It feels impossible when we’re all intent on projecting versions of ourselves we think others will like. I don’t have the answers, but I’m genuinely interested in finding them. And though it feels a little silly to say out loud, I’m down with the ugly in everyone I love. I’m hoping that we all give each other permission to be ugly–despite limitations on what we feel we can talk about when it comes to our relationships–soon.

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