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Oh Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson! He stole my heart with that fantastic 98º track at the end of Disney’s classic Mulan way back when, and her pop music inspired many a dance party alone in my room at 11pm in front of my full length mirror. I watched their relationship blossom and wither on MTV’s Newlyweds during my early, angsty, love stricken teenage years, and boy did that ever fuck me up. In retrospect, my first encounter with these two cemented this truth in my mind…
When you move in with your boyfriend before you’re ready, everyone fights and love dies.
Granted, that was definitely a helpful point of view for high school me who was much too young to be falling in love, and obviously stubborn enough to do it anyways. I am a twenty-something now, and have grown up and out of needing this precautionary mantra. However, even though I am currently in real love, the kind that is light in your heart, and never comes up for discussion, I still deeply feared moving in with my boyfriend. This limiting belief was probably not entirely created by Nick and Jessica, but lets have fun for a minute and see what emotional road blocks they Did graciously provide my psyche.
Newlyweds, or Barbie and Ken: The Dark Ages as I like to think of it, ran for three seasons. For those three years of my life, I, a highschooler avoiding Biology lab write-ups and reading The Canterbury Tales, watched Ken guzzle down beer, sit entranced in front of the TV, and call out Barbie’s dumb blonde bullshit. Just as my dreams of having a boyfriend and falling in love were ripening, all I could see were flashing WARNING signs reading, DO NOT LET THIS BE YOUR LIFE.
Nick and Jess appealed to dueling target audiences. To one faction of viewers, Nick represented that obliviously chauvinistic pig and Jess that dimwitted weak girlie girl whom innovative, liberal, gender studies inclined hipsters-to-be loved to hate. To middle American folks clinging to a 1950s mindset of relationship do’s and don’ts, they were a picture perfect Man and his Wife, a beacon of hope that women are in fact still oppress-able. Yucky as that is, this is capitalist America, and the best products are pedal-able to anyone and everyone who can afford to spend a dime. I just loved to laugh at these fools.
As much as I did in fact laugh at the time, I am now realizing just how poorly this show affected my anxiety levels around moving in with a boyfriend. Most reality shows, though entertaining and laughable, have a price, and this one definitely seeped into my subconscious. Oftentimes things that are hilarious to the cynical eye, are equally if not more real and threatening. There is a reason this show appealed to that middle America demographic. Women’s roles, rights, and privileges in this society are unfortunately still being negotiated, and that’s the sick truth. My subconscious definitely latched onto the notion that when I would eventually move in with a boyfriend, the experience would be as miserable as this show and I would lose my identity, and become some lonely, stupid housewife who didn’t know Chicken from Tuna. I was a teenager, everything was about me, and was definitely going to happen to me, in the worst way, at all the worst time.
Subsequently, this current choice to move in with my boyfriend presented itself much quicker that I anticipated. I’m only 22. I haven’t lived in my own apartment yet. I haven’t found my concrete profession. When this decision came up, part of me was screaming, if you skip all that stuff, you will never be a career woman, or get to style your own dream apartment, a cozy yet industrial urban cottage. You just haven’t done all of the things that you planned to do before this kind of change took place, to ensure you were the strong independent-enough woman you needed to be to live with your boyfriend and not unravel into the caricature of a woman Jessica embodied.
But life never happens the way you plan. And my boyfriend is not Nick Lachey. Sometimes I just have to trust that if I make the decisions that feel right, all the other things will come in time.
How do I know that living together now is right?
But what if we fail?
We also might not.
In closing, do I still listen to that 98º classic True to Your Heart? Yes. Do I love it? Yes. Did Newlyweds benefit me in anyway? Yes, it scared me. It warned me not to relinquish my dream of being a strong, independent woman for love. That fear protected me from moving in with just any boyfriend. It made me defend my dreams, and communicate my apprehensions to my current boyfriend who as it turned out had fears all his own. Fancy. That!
So thank you Nick and Jess. Sorry it didn’t work out, but y’all had it rough. Now off to IKEA for some shelving units. I’m thinking wood and glass, mixed with bold colors and clean whites. Turns out my man is down with the cozy industrial aesthetic. When you’re ready to, you really can have it all!
Thank you FashionLawWiki for letting me photoshop your beautiful promotional poster.
Rebecca is a midwestern, Jewish, only child. She believes in love. She apologizes when she's wrong. Her favorite food has always been Cheerios, but she just learned that she's probably allergic to gluten, so that's happening...
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