Expiry dates and relationships
If you’ve gone grocery shopping to a super market, you’ll know that the fresher stock (with later expiry dates) is always stocked up behind the older stuff because supermarkets like to follow FIFO (first in first out). However, what they probably don’t realise is that there are people like me who know this and they will end up with LIFO (last in first out) instead. Someone like my husband would think why bother making the effort of sorting through the stock as long as they are all within the expiry date – what’s the big difference anyway?
It makes a huge difference – if I know the spinach is going to expire in 7 days instead of 3, I could happily dump the spinach in the fridge for a few extra days not worrying about making the decision of salvaging it. It’s not always because I want to cook with fresher spinach, sometimes, it’s about having the option to not cook with it immediately despite buying it. Strange you think?
Think about this – when you are fresh in a relationship, you could have a fight or two in a day and still be snuggling up in bed later that night, but if you’ve been together for a long time, a fight is always ugly – you always have to deal with it immediately, it can take a few days for you to “resolve” it before you can snuggle up in bed.
The fresher a relationship, the longer you can keep stuff in the fridge and not bother about it (until the expiry date), whereas older relationships can’t be taken for granted for too long because relationships have expiry dates, egos that grow with time and the longer you’ve been in a relationship, the more likely you are closer to its expiry date.
With age, some relationships mature but don’t really expire like old wine or single malts. Some people enjoy the taste of it, some don’t. For those that don’t, that relationship has an expiry date. We all want fresher spinach because some of us want our relationship to retain its novelty, some of us want to take it for granted for longer. So when you’ve picked up spinach that is going to expire in 4 days and you see someone next to you who has picked up a packet that’s due to expire in 5 days, you want their packet so bad because apparently even one extra day can make all the difference.
We always want to go back in our relationships, even if it’s one step, because we are a day farther away from its expiry. Familiarity increases with time, quirks become exposed, our reactions to the other person’s quirks mellow over time, we become comfortable with things that were unthinkable at one point.
Then, someday, something hits you hard (possibly an expiry date or existential crisis), and you start thinking about all the changes in your life. Suddenly, you want your neighbour’s packet of spinach. You want to go back in time so you can shove your problems in the fridge for longer and not have to make the decision of whether you need to salvage it now or not.
God, this is such a morbid view of relationships. As Yuval Noah Harari says, it’s also just our imagined order.