A friend once commented to me that he couldn’t work out if my boyfriend and I were ‘the best couple I know, or the absolute worst.’

Fair enough. I’ve been with my boyfriend for over 13 years at this point. Our relation outdates Facebook, the boom in popularity of online dating, and the smartphone. We’ve been together so long, in fact, that I can’t imagine my life without him. He’s an utter dude and after all this time, I still really like his face. I’m assured the feeling is mutual.

However, you’d never know that by the way we talk to each other.

Rather than using pet names, we compete with each other to use the most creative insults possible to address each other.

‘Oi shitlord, have you done the washing up?’

‘Here arse features, have another drink.’

There was also this beauty he sent me the other day, when asking advice on buying a birthday present:

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In fact, Whatsapp has become our go to method for flinging insults at each other when bored, or when one of us is trying to get to sleep:

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We also spend about, ooh, 90% of our time together devising new and exciting ways to annoy each other. His favourite is rubbing his bare feet ON MY ACTUAL FACE, and mine is twisting the industrial piercing in his ear, making him slap my hands away and yell ‘fuck off!’. It’s a good way to spend a slow Sunday afternoon, I’ll tell you what.

We’ve had a few people utterly confused by the way we treat each other, and I do get it, sort of. On the outside, we’re utterly horrible to each other. All we do is spew insults and drive each other crazy. Surely people in love don’t do that? I’ve even had a friend accuse us of having lost the romance in our relationship. You what, mate?

The thing is, this is how I show affection. These horrible insults are the pet names we use to address each other. If he calls me ‘sweetheart’ or ‘darling’, I get scared. Let’s be honest, you have to know someone incredibly well to know if you can get away with calling them a ‘taint licker’ when asking them if they fancy a takeaway pizza. It’s a sign of closeness.

We don’t fawn all over each other in public, and we don’t post undying messages of love to each other on Facebook, because what are we trying to prove?

So the romance is gone, you say? Nah. The fact is, romance comes in all forms. Some like to express it in flowers and soppy teddy bears, and that’s fine. For me though, flowers just wilt slowly and remind of death, and those teddy bears are a fire hazard at best. We don’t fawn all over each other in public, and we don’t post undying messages of love to each other on Facebook, because what are we trying to prove?

Love is making sure you’ve got dinner on when they come home from a long day at work. It’s making a cup of tea when the other (me, usually) is stressed out and crying on the sofa. It’s caring about the other person’s needs, and offering regular hugs and kisses (even by force, when he’s trying to play Left 4 Dead 2. TAKE MY AFFECTION, DAMN YOU.) In short, it’s what you make of it. And if you want to communicate in expletives and craft elaborate, irritating pranks on each other, then shine on you crazy diamond.

Siobhan Harper About Siobhan Harper
Siobhan Harper is a freelance writer living in Birmingham UK. She strongly believes in figuring things out as you go along, but only because she's pathalogically disorganised. You can follow her adventures in writing at http://wingingitsiobhanharper.blogspot.co.uk/, or her thoughts on early mornings and dogs on Twitter at @Beatrix_Plotter.