Why You Need To Stop Comparing Yourself To Swans

Photo by  Stephen H  on  Unsplash

Photo by Stephen H on Unsplash

“Swans have only one partner for their entire life. If their partner dies, they could in fact die of heartbreak. ... They mate with the same partner till the bond is broken either because of death or if any partner is preyed.”

You may or may not have heard that swans mate for life and, if their significant other dies, the remaining swan will follow soon after, dying of a broken heart. Doesn’t it sound overwhelmingly romantic? Something we, as lowly humans, can only aspire to? The fairytales of all fairytales? Don’t we all hear stories of old couples who, after being married for eleventy billion years, die within weeks of each other and don’t we all sigh and recognise that as true love and worry inwardly that we’ll never find that?

First of all, let me just burst this bubble of bollocks for you. Swans don’t die of a broken heart. They don’t even mate for life. They, just like us, get divorced and hook up with new people and have more babies and basically deal with all typical bullshit that any relationship brings. Also, why do we want to be in a relationship that means we die when they die? Sure, it’s going to be arse-achingly RUBBISH when our significant other dies, but I can’t help feeling it’s a little over-fucking-dramatic for us to pop our own clogs in solidarity. Talk about co-dependency.

And while we’re talking about swans, let’s talk about rom-coms too (because that’s a natural segue). I love a romcom as much as the next person (as long as the next person isn’t my husband because he thinks they’re gash and would rather push a sharpened pencil up his urethra than watch anything remotely romantic or comedy) but we have to start seeing them for what they are. A huge stinking pile of made up fluffiness designed to do two things: exploit our insecurities and vulnerabilities and give us warm fuzzy feelings. It’s weird that one film can do those two things, but it’s true. The next time you watch a romcom and start to feel a little blue because you haven’t found THAT kind of love, or your husband never does the things Ryan Gosling does, or you never have passionate sex after a date night, or indeed a date night at all, please punch yourself in the face and remind yourself that it’s all bollocks.

Think of rom coms and swans like magic shows. We all know it’s not really MAGIC. We all know - even if we can’t see it and even if we desperately want to believe in it - that there’s something distinctly NOT MAGICAL about it, usually to do with mirrors and fancy finger work, but we can all sit down and recognise it for what it is. Knowing that it isn’t real and magic doesn’t exist, doesn’t destroy the entertainment factor, nor does it undermine the beauty of what you’re experiencing, it simply keeps it in a safe place for us emotionally. We don’t all leave the magic show depressed and taking self-esteem by the gallon because we haven’t mastered levitation or being able to saw ourselves in half without making one hell of a mess.

Comparison truly is the thief of joy - never has a truer word been uttered. Those relationships we see in movies, or the stories of lore we hear passed down about couples who kept the romance alive through two world wars - are just that, stories. They’re the highlights, the great bits, the show reel. They miss out the fights, the struggle, the boredom, the lack of sex, the money worries, the divorces, the separations. They omit to mention the three years they could barely stand to look at each other because the resentment was so big they couldn’t move for it. They don’t describe the tedious nature of everyday, real life adulting that’s more about nappies and nose picking and bills and play dates and fucking Peppa Pig than it is ever about roses and orgasms and feet-sweeping antics.

So fuck the stories, fuck the movies and most of all, fuck the swans.