She's not easy, but
I don't like easy.
How did you meet?
Actually, I wrote to my friend on Instagram that I saw a picture of her and said “wow, who is she?”
And later on, I texted her on Instagram “you are the most beautiful girl I ever seen” though I don’t text like this normally…
Then she replied
“Thank you, that was nice”
Then we talked for a little bit, but I was traveling during the summer and it took some time until we met in person.
First time we met in September. And when I met him I was really surprised, because we ended up talking for 7 hours. I didn’t know that we’d have that type of chemistry.
And also, in that month I had booked one-way ticket to Spain. Before I left to Spain we hanged out about six times.
He insisted to drive me to the airport, and had written me a letter that I read on the airplane. No one has done that before 😊
I went away for three months and then I decided to come back. And then he also insisted on picking me up at the airport again ☺️
And since then we’ve been together ✨
What was the first impression when you met her?
I’m going to be honest, at that time, I was reading a lot of books about dating girls, because I had struggled with my self-esteem after my injury, sitting in a wheelchair. I also was heartbroken at that time and my self-esteem was quite low, so I was afraid of meeting girls.
But then I met some girls, just like talk to them, to see if I had a chance, and I can read them quite easy.
But the strange thing was when I met her, I couldn’t read her at all, I didn’t understand if she liked me. The only thing that I understood in my mind, is that she came early and she left quite late at night.
She crossed the legs. Every time I was trying to move a little closer to her, she moved away, the way she looked at me, her impression, it was just not right. But she is a smart girl, she could say I have to go early, but she didn’t do that.
She was not sending the same signals as normal humans do and I later understood why she acted like that.
She had a strong story that made me reflect on my own stuff. From the first conversation she made such a strong impression. Her life experience was touching me in a way that I haven't felt before. I never felt that connection, it was so fast, that's why I was motivated to keep asking her out:
“hey can you come over” and she responded ”maybe not tonight, maybe another”
It was hard in a way because my self-esteem was low and I was afraid of
getting rejected, but at the same time she gave me a little motivation like “keep trying”
She's not easy, but
I don't like easy.
You said you later understood why she was acting like this..
It’s about her childhood, and what she’s been through that made her the way she is…
When I was a child, I had something called selective mutism because of a trauma I had earlier. I was trying to protect myself and being scared I stopped speaking. I was so in control that even if I fell and hit myself then I wouldn’t cry because I didn’t want anyone to see me or see my reactions.
So whatever is happening inside I’ve always shown like being able to shut off all my emotions.
She could be a good poker player 😃
One of the things I really like is that he taught me that when you’re vulnerable and give more of yourself to other people or able to cry, or able to say all of these things, then you give them a gift. So I know when someone calls me and they’re like crying or they are upset, I feel honored that they want to talk to me and I am the one they want to tell.
But I never felt that way myself, because of my mom probably, she was very strong and independent, so that’s how I always thought is best to be, but it’s a lot of strength in being vulnerable as well. He taught me that.
You told me that you didn't felt the same way before.
Can you describe what did you feel when you met her? What was different? Can you describe it?
I can describe it. I think also one of the reasons why I say this, because my injury has changed me so much and I see more value in people maybe. I'm not 100% sure, because I'm still on the path after the injury in changing myself.
I like the person she is. Like the way she is, the way she dreams, her values, especially her family values. And just the person she is, it just fits me in the way I am, my values and my future plans.
So when we sat down and talked about what we want in life, it was so much similar stuff that I thought about. And it sounds very simple, but it's more to that as well.
It's not only about future plans and what you want in life, but it's also about the emotional connection that I felt with her. Because I know many couples struggle because everything fits, but their emotional intelligence doesn't fit.
And their emotional language is not the same. And I think the way she grew up and her values is called by that, if I can say it like that. So that's just, I think that's one of the reasons what I felt when I met her.
The way she was and her values and the way she spoke and her emotions and how she described everything. I think that just hit me and felt many...
you meet someone
and stuff clicks
To what emotions have you connections with her? Are there any particular emotions?
Oh, it's so many emotions. But I think that when you go through tough stuff in your life, it shapes you, right? And the way she explained what happened to her. And it's so many things that I can't put the words on, but it's just a feeling when you meet someone and stuff clicks.
But also the way she explained it and the way she showed her emotions, even though she said that she had that selective mutism. I just felt her emotions in a way. It felt so much similar to my emotions.
Like now, we can look at each other and we understand. Like just today, we just saw a guy. I don't know why, but it was something with a guy. And she looked at me because I saw the same thing. You understand? And that's something that normally happens.
Well, in my experience, that's something that normally happens after some years when you get to know a person. I haven't said these things in words to her, but now I do. But those things are the things that I mean. Some things that we can't put words on because words are so small.
Emotions are so much bigger, so it's hard to describe them. But just that description. She saw a guy. And I don't know what she saw. I saw the same thing. Maybe it was something random, funny, something interesting. I don't know, but it was just the thing. I saw the same.
I saw the guy and I looked at her and she smiled because she saw the same thing. You understand? And that's just one situation. It's also smaller situations that I understand that we just understand. I can just say to her, do you understand? Yeah, I understand. We don't need to talk about it.
You just look at each other and you know what you're feeling.
Yeah. And also, of course, we just got to know each other in a way. So it's also getting better known to what limits.
Because we're two different people trying to fit together. So we're trying to make something together, right? And I also think that even though I have all these feelings and everything fits,
I know also it takes time to really melt into each other in a way. I don't know, it's hard to explain.
Because we're two different people and I think we're similar on the important things.
But it's also about understanding and also appreciating that we're different.
And I think it's important to take care of each other's differences. That you don't always expect that everything I am okay with, we should both be okay with all the same things. Or we should always want to do the same things.
Or we should also think it's cool that we're different too. Because that's what we also liked about each other.
Also the thing that I think we want to make a life together, but at the same time we also want to have our lives in a way.
Like if she wants to travel, I'm not going to be like, no, you need to travel with me. I also think that's an important thing.
Do you travel alone sometimes?
I have been since I was 17. I always leave and then randomly I come back. I don't do it anymore because also after I met him, then I did actually feel like I want to stay somewhere. For the first time.
And he has a lot to do with it. So I'm not just going to pack my bags and leave. But I always want to travel. But I know we can make it work. I want him to come too.
Tell me more about conflicts. Do you have conflicts and how do you manage them?
One of the things I have felt, is that I can be the one that wants to have space or I need time and then we can talk about it
and he wants to talk about it straight away sometimes. We have different ways of... yeah, handling it. And we're also used to... different things. And I think, because both him and I, in previous relationships, we are used to being the one to challenge.
In previous relationships, I missed the feeling like I was challenged. And with him, I feel like I am being challenged. And so, it also makes me think about some of the things that I do. That okay, maybe this is wrong.
Maybe I should be more vulnerable. Like that's a good thing, but it takes time for me to learn also. So in some situations, my old habits come up and I go, I just want to leave or I just like shut up.
But then, because I respect what he says and I hear it and I want to be also better, then I can see that it's something I should work on. So I think it's just like conflicts are always going to happen because we're two different people, humans trying to make it work.
But... yeah, that's also the thing that challenges you. You know, the thing that's uncomfortable but also sometimes changes you in a way.
So I think, humans are made to solve conflicts and are made to solve problems, that's what we are.
Yeah, that's not a wrong thing to be in a conflict. You just need to do it in a way that strengthens your relationship.
Yes, exactly. And that's some of the hard stuff in a relationship, to solve it in the right way or you think that like after you have a conflict that you talked about you just need to reflect over it and learn from each other. And that's also one of the hard things for people, because they love each other or they really want it to work, but they really don't fit. So the conflicts never get solved like ‘just forget about it’ but it's still there. It's not a problem that's solved. So it's also about
handling each other. Two ways to say it, like you can agree on it or you can agree to disagree on it, because it depends on the values.
It depends on the conflict, but I think you need also to accept that you're not dating yourself, so everything is not gonna be how you want it or not everything is gonna make sense straight away. So you have to listen and understand what do you actually mean and you might not understand straight away either, but you have to be patient, because if you want it to work then you have to be able to see it from someone else's perspective, because if you chose to be in a relationship and you're like against each other all the time you've chosen to be in this, we're supposed to be together and go at things together.
Of course, we're gonna have conflicts but it's not a dangerous thing and the good thing is that we can like reflect on it and the way we see the world and the way we see people, it makes it easier for us to understand each other in the end, not straight away, but after a little bit
But don't you think also that's the part of keeping the relationship interesting? I also think that conflicts or discussions or whatever, you grow on them and if you have a guy that always agree and just say yes all the time, will that be challenging for her, will she grow?
Today we saw a couple that didn't talk, they were sitting at a nice place, but they didn't even look at each other.
They were just like this whole time and I would much rather be like in your face arguing with you than sitting like this.
When I looked at them I was thinking like... I don't want that. They're around 20 years older than us. I don't want to be like that
in 20 years, I still want to do random stuff, I still want to shock her and do like crazy stupid stuff and her telling me that "oh you're so stupid" or "you're dumb" or whatever. I haven't been in a relationship for 20 years but I don't want that. I don't want to be that couple that just are so used to each other, so we just don't even need to talk anymore. I like keeping things interesting and keep challenging each other, because that's also what human wants to do, you want to grow, you never stop learning.
I still want to challenge that. I wanna come in
and surprise her:
- hey we're going to Egypt for three weeks
- I’m not ready
- I don't care, let's go!
You know what I mean? I wanna do those kind of stuff that still makes her "whoa shit!" we're still living!
you always put novelty in the relationship
Yeah! I think that you can keep the love longer. I don't wanna be that old grumpy boyfriend sitting in the sofa, watching Netflix after 5 years of being together.
I think also that's what we like in each other is that we both want to live like that, since I was a kid I've been wanting to live and I have been living like that since I could leave my home, just doing new things, seeing the world, meeting new people, all of these things and then I saw that in him too and I think he sees the same in me and I think that's what makes it exciting.
The same about this trip, we didn't have a plan, we're just going different places and that's what's fun, because we want to live
our lives the same way.
What is love in your opinion?
I think it's the feeling when you can be yourself with someone and you feel safe with them and you can just be you and you're accepted.
I think it's when you're with someone and you don't have to do much, just being with them is nice and it's fun like you don’t want to be
anywhere else. You could just be doing the simplest thing like being at the shop buying food, but you're not thinking that you want to be somewhere else or do something else, you just want to be there in the moment.
What advice would you give to men that are struggling with self-esteem and how to overcome it?
I think, the best way to get better self-esteem is to better know yourself and your feelings. I think one of the most important thing is to be honest with your feelings and yourself and not trying to make up a person or make up a character you want to be. I think that's
very hard for people, so try to be more touched with your feelings and I can also say with your feminine side and also just to do stuff, just do it. Just go for the challenges that scares you, because, I think, for me everything that scared me, I always try to overcome it and every time I overcome it, I get more self-esteem in many different aspects.
So challenge yourself, do the things that you're afraid of and sometimes just do it, don't overthink, meet that girl, just write to that girl, don't be afraid to get rejected.
I think that's one of the things that helped me a lot to get more self-esteem, but it's very important to be honest to yourself, who you really are, not who you want to be in a way,
because many people want to be somebody that they're not and that can make them quite disorientated.
But you can change yourself no?
You can change yourself, but you can never be me, I can never be you, I can be closer to learn from you, but I can never have the feelings you have. You can change as you are in person, I don't think you can be another person, many people try to do that, they want to be another person. For example, you look at celebrities and I want to have those things they have. You can, but you have to do it in another way, because you're not that person. That's the thing is very important to really know.
Interviewer and photographer: Sergiu Rotaru
Couple: Marte Fredriksen and Geir Kåre Cemsoylu Nyland