Excerpt: My boyfriend and I had made a point to discuss our disdain in regard to the holiday and effectively banned it in our relationship. There would no pressure to make a mockery of our union by selecting a single day to commemorate it -- not with Valentine's and not with our anniversary, either.

These things were an affront to the obvious joy we experienced just being together, and flew in the face of personal and mutual efficiency. After all, that time we spent stressing about what to get each other could be better spent doing something else -- like working to move our personal success forward, and therefore our union. And the resources spent on gifts could be better suited to things we really wanted -- like the down payment on another home or another car. You can't have too many of those, you know.

Fast forward two years. You have a relationship that is fairly efficient. Everyone knows what to expect and when. The frills had been cut away. We were the bare bones and organs of love: no fat, no bullshit. I didn't tolerate dinner parties, so I often skipped Sunday dinner at his aunt's. He didn't "understand" my friends, so he passed on that. We made each other nuts traveling together, so we took separate planes. He worked better in the day and I worked best at night, so we cleaved our life together into shifts.

We made time to be together, of course. Breakfast before I went to bed and he went to work, dinner when he got home and I was getting ready to start writing. Sometimes I would curl up in bed with him until he fell asleep, then sneaked out of the room to go write. Sometimes he turned off his phone when we drove out to our second home in the desert. Little things to show it was important to have each other in our lives.

Crumbs. That's what it was. I'll be the first to admit it. We starved the living hell out of our relationship.

Toward the end of things, I couldn't believe how much we were fighting. In retrospect, I realize that fighting was the only way we could sustain interaction for any prolonged period. We may or may not really had issues with the things we were arguing about, but what we were actually doing was trying to get something, some kind of emotional response from each other and hold it there. Even if it was ugly and only there for a couple of hours.

We had no real emotion outside of that. Efficiency doesn't fare well with that warm fuzziness. Efficiency is cold, collected and always in control. You tell me about your day, I'll center you. I'll tell you about my day and you'll neutralize me. If one of us doesn't understand or really care, we'll nod and smile and use the time to make a mental list of things we each need to get done next.

As a result, the only way to really express ourselves emotionally was to go to war over perceived infractions of our cherished efficiency. I suppose screaming during orgasm is a more socially-acceptable form of emotional expression, but no desire can grow on a landscape so sterile. We were emaciated.

This is an extreme case, of course. What I want to illustrate is that from the get-go, we trained ourselves to believe that our partnership could make manifest these displays of appreciation on its own, that every day could be a celebration of how much we cherished one another.

Let me tell you something about real life: that's not how it works.
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