Story of Lipstick on Paper

My name is Pauline and I created Lipstick on Paper as a space to share my perspective on relationships - advice primarily pulled from my personal experiences, observations, and random theories of modern society and media. My partner is J* (undisclosed for privacy), whom I’ve been with for over 6 years. When we tell people the condensed version of our story: friends turned college sweethearts turned fiancĂ©, they sigh and their faith in romance is semi-restored. This story may sound nauseatingly picture perfect, but it’s only the surface. The truth is: we met in college, survived a long-distance relationship from hell, battled through the stress of graduate school while living in Los Angeles, nearly broke up twice, took a month-long break, moved back to the Bay Area, and finally got engaged in June 2009.

Any “seemingly perfect” relationship requires tons of hard work. If you know any couples who aren’t struggling, or you are in a fairly easy relationship, then just wait. It takes a lot of mistakes, making them again, eventually learning from them, and making a new crop of mistakes. Relationships are simultaneously as frustrating as they are rewarding. What makes or breaks a relationship; distinguishes the ones that work from the ones that don’t? Perseverance. Not a charming personality, sense of humor, fashion style, easy conversations, or even physical attraction. Those qualities may be important, but if you and your partner don’t also have the perseverance and desire to make the relationship work, it won’t. Real relationships run like a marathon, not a car set on cruise-control.

It took me many failures before I realized this. Prior to J, my dating record reflected my fickle nature and naivety on love – that it was supposed to be easy. I liked guys briefly, maybe even loved them, and left whenever we hit a rough patch within that first year. Rather than take responsibility, I blamed fate instead; they just weren’t “the one.” I looked forward to the next suitor, who might carry my answer to relationship happiness. It became a predictable pattern, no matter which type of guy I dated – bad boy, nice guy, smart guy, or cool guy – all with the same frustrating results.

Truthfully, being deliriously in love was much more fun than miring in real relationship issues. It was easier. I craved fun and freedom over true commitment, which likely contributed to my string of unsuccessful relationships. Of course, how could any relationship truly work when there’s only one person investing in it? And that one person wasn’t me. I lacked the drive to make it work.

Dating another guy, even the perfect guy, wasn’t the answer to my problem. I was the one who needed to change. Me. Even though I wasn’t ready to admit that yet, J came into my life and gradually helped me understand that important lesson.

It took me over 10 difficult years of dating to gain a new, healthier perspective on love and relationships. It’s far from perfect, but J and I are still learning from each other. With a healthy relationship, the learning should never end. This blog chronicles my experiences and insights to make sense of the relationship process and this crazy, essential, and blissful ride we call love. I hope it will help with your journey, as well.

{Photography by: Vivian Sachs,}