Made it through Ikea and still have relationship questions? Ask Isaac, our resident boy expert.
Ikea is a nice idea in theory.
It’s a blue and yellow emporium of affordable household items. It’s famous for its meatballs. Going there counts as weekend plans, and because it’s European, it makes you feel worldly. Do not be fooled, however, by its stylish comforters, or the cheerful employee who hands out golf pencils upon entry. Ikea tests relationships. It’s Swedish for “No mercy.”
You will get lost on your way there. No one has ever successfully located an Ikea on the first try regardless of GPS or natural cognitive mapping ability. Getting lost while driving is a relationship test on its own — this we know. But the stress associated with finding the perfect leather sectional further exasperates the typical car fight, leaving your couple already slightly pissed before you even enter the store.
In a fleeting minute of naïve hope, all is resolved upon entry. Much the same way bakeries and Abercrombie pump the smell of bread and abs onto the street, Ikea’s vents release hallucinogenic gas that stuns shoppers into a fog of unrealistic home improvement expectations. Visions of grandeur and cohesive decorating schemes take over. You become high on DIY.
Before it is realized that both parties have polar opposite tastes when it comes to entertainment centers (typically just after an argument over rug budget and a moment of panic wherein someone lost his phone by the kitchen cabinets), a second heavy wave of emotion hits: exhaustion. There is something about Ikea — the lack of windows, recycled air — that sends its patrons into a state of Walking Mono after approximately 15 minutes inside.
You will grow weary; your lethargy turns painful; and he or she who once was your partner in crime suddenly becomes a true manifestation of ball and chain. That’s when the threats begin: Drag me back to look at bathtubs one more time and I swear I’ll knife you. Utensils: third floor, section five.
Hunger kicks in around the hour mark, but you’ll never see those rumored meatballs because there are “perfectly good leftovers at home.” The Swedish alien names (Ektorp for couch, Blewborg for towel) become as annoying as your partner’s voice and likewise, no longer funny. Your alliance is broken. You’re as good as separated, but there is one more stop: the warehouse, which everyone forgets exists, where you must locate and pick up all of your shit.
And then you stand in line.
If the two of you can make it home without bringing up the quarrels of the last three hours and agree to build your bookshelf another day, your chances of staying together are practically guaranteed. You’ve gone through the trenches. You’ve picked out a shower curtain. You broke a swivel chair and your partner hid the evidence. That is true intimacy.
As for those in the relationship-gray area, confronted with the most stressful and pressing question of today: “So…what are we?,” forgo The Talk.
Suggest a casual trip to Ikea instead. Say you need to get a new lamp. You’ll have decent lighting and The Answer by the time you leave.
Image via Elle Ukraine