Almost a year ago, on a rare trip home to visit my parents, Dad and I painted a familiar picture: sharing the living room as one of us clicked around on our laptop while the other vaunted control of the TV. Aside from golfing and visiting the West Side Market, watching TV together is our greatest bonding experience. Maybe one day I’ll enumerate all of the weird and wonderful moments that have come from that.
But not right now. Right now I want to focus on this one particular moment, where Dad and I were reunited in our natural habitat. For the life of me I can’t remember what we were watching, but whatever it was gave my dad pause. He looked over the screen of his laptop at me and said that it was beginning to dawn on him that he and my mom didn’t necessarily do a great job of being affectionate around each other when I was growing up. He wondered if they set a good example of showing me a relationship to aspire to when I was younger.
I had to think about that, because I have never doubted that my parents love each other. They’re still together after 31 years of marriage, they must love each other. But at the same time, I have the kid-goggles of thinking of them as my parents – a unit, but not necessarily a couple. My parents are loving and affectionate, but not in the way that I ever had to worry about walking in on them making out in the kitchen. My parents are not prone to PDA, a fact for which I am eternally grateful.
So after agreeing with him that they aren’t the most romantic of couples, Dad asked what I found to be my ideal standard for judging a good relationship. It wasn’t something I’d given a lot of serious consideration before, despite being surrounded by couples in every day life and pretty much every bit of media that I consume. In the end, it wasn’t difficult to pick one factor above all others: high fives.
High-Fives are great couple behavior. When I think of the couples on television that I grew up watching, shipping, and envying, they are, overwhelmingly, the ones that would high five. (Or seemed like they would high-five off screen.) There’s a reason that my tag on tumblr for Chandler and Monica is “OTP: high fives”.
The innate knowledge of when is acceptable to high-five is half the challenge. They can be celebratory, like if your team is better at Celebrity, or your fantasy football team won, or something truly excellent happened at work.
In sharing a high-five, you’re acknowledging your SO’s partnership, you’re congratulating them, you’re rewarding them. You’re sharing something. It seems kind of cool. (But also know when you should keep your hand to yourself, because few things are worse than the disappointed little shake of the head you get when it’s “not the time”.)
Unlike it’s cousin Relationship Theory, the High Five Romance is a real-world desirable relationship standard. And that’s kind of the point; whereas the relationship theory demands a passionate, roller-coaster of emotions, the high-five romance is calmer. Yet it still manages to be a thing of passion – I’m not looking to high-five someone over something I’m ambivalent about, rather something I find so exciting and exhilarating that I need an outlet outside of my body. I’m looking to high-five when I have so much joy and such a sense of accomplishment that I literally need to share it with someone else. A high-five can be comforting, but still fun. It’s lighthearted but has significance. And I like that.
High-fives can be flirtatious and/or the product of inside jokes you think are a-mah-zing, but make your friends want to vomit or be a celebration in-and-of themselves AS WELL AS your amazing shared pop culture knowledge or maybe it’s “an expression of elation and teamwork” (shut up, fist-bumps totally fall into the same family as high-fives, especially if they’re done with that beatific expression of joy):
Relationship Theory mainly portends to fictional couples and our desire to live vicariously through them. High-five romance, however, is about how I’d like to apply some of the rules of fictional relationships to real life. Obviously high-fives accompany other relationship habits, but they’re a very good stop on the affection spectrum, and they deserve some recognition.
tl;dr High fives are great and I hope they play a significant role in my next relationship.