Shruti Talekar | Staff Illustrator
In remembrance of Cosmo, a good fish.
Relationships are so hard. Like really, really hard. Most of the time, when things don’t work out, it’s simply because the two people have different perceptions of love. Love is not a definite concept.
When people have different ideas of love, they can prompt expectations that are tiring to meet. Just because someone’s perception of love is different from someone else’s does not make it wrong. But why deal with any of that complicated mess when you can have the most consistent, unquestionable love — a fish.
You will never really know what your fish is feeling, but you can assume it’s undying love, as you’re the sole reason that it’s still alive. Even if you do something wrong, your fish will forget, due to its very short memory span. Not only will a fish be totally satisfied being part of your life, it’ll actually benefit your life. It’s proven that having a pet fish can benefit mental health, which isn’t always the case in a human relationship.
A fish requires the most minimal of things — food, water and a little room service now and then. If provided, then you’re already doing enough. This little creature relies on you, and it’s difficult to let it down unless you really try to neglect it, which is pretty sadistic, so don’t do that. Either way, don’t overwork yourself in order to express love when a fish reminds you that the amount of love you’re able to give right now is enough for it.
It’s always said that if someone loves you, then they will show you. This expectation to prove love can be exhausting. In a busy college life — balancing school, work, clubs and the rest of life — it can be hard to put enough effort into a relationship to make it work. The reality of it is that we can’t put our everything into a relationship when a relationship isn’t our everything. Bloop.
Someone should be able to give what they can in a relationship and be appreciated for it, instead of only being acknowledged for what they can’t give. If you’re tired of giving it your all and your all not being good enough, then be tired no longer. A fish is what you need.
Something a relationship requires and a fish doesn’t is communication. Texting and calling someone to talk about your day is nice. It’s always nice to have someone listen and care. After coming home from a long day, tired as all hell and dreading the work you have yet to do, venting to someone who immediately wants to say how it will get better, what can be done to make it better, to keep your chin up and all the other non-helpful etceteras isn’t helpful. Instead, you can relax next to a non-talkative, non-judgmental fish and shamelessly let out every emotion.
You don’t have to worry about sounding like a pessimist or a lost cause, because a fish cannot process what you’re saying anyway. You’re much more likely to find relief by letting your problems out completely and honestly than by relying on the not-so-helpful words of someone else. Your fish will always listen. Your fish will always care.
For years, studies have shown overwhelming evidence that pets are good for mental health, specifically anxiety and depression. But, aside from service animals, students aren’t permitted to have cats, dogs or other pets of that kind in the dorms. Most landlords don’t allow pets, and even if they do, caring for a cat or a dog can be quite a feat for a college student. But there’s no rule against fish in residence halls, and, surprisingly, they’re just as beneficial to one’s mental health. A study conducted by Plymouth University found that people who watch swimming fish have lowered blood pressure and a reduced heart rate, which correlates with decreased anxiety.
And one thing you’ll certainly never have anxiety about is trust.
“[Trust] is absolutely fundamental for a healthy, close relationship,” relationship counselor Andrea Bonior says. “And yet it is far easier, and takes a lot less time, to lose trust than to build it back up. The rebuilding of trust takes time, patience and work, just as it does to establish it in the first place.”
Trusting someone is a very intense thing to do, considering that loyalty seems to be becoming increasingly more rare. Why subject yourself to overthinking all day about why he hasn’t called you yet, who she’s with or if he’s tongue-deep down someone else’s throat? There’s no need to spend any more nights crying alone wondering why you weren’t good enough or why they left, because there’s an obvious solution.
A fish will never leave. It literally cannot or else it will die, and unless it’s a Betta fish — which are notorious for jumping out of tanks — you won’t have to worry much about them walking out. A fish will never cheat on you, unless you put another fish in its tank, because you are the only creature it loves — to whatever extent fish can love. When you come home every day, your fish will be there to reassure you that you’re not alone and you are enough.
We’ve all experienced heartbreak in some form, and breakups tend to be the worst because we end up blaming or devaluing ourselves. Breakups aren’t ever easy, even for the one doing the breaking. It hurts to let everything go and deal with the pain of losing someone and parts of oneself with them. But it has to happen. How can we ever expect to find the right person unless we let the wrong people go? It’s a hard decision to make, and it’s not always the easiest, but it is the best.
A relationship that you never have to worry about ending is one with a fish. Even cats and dogs can be horrible and make you feel like a bad owner, but it’s quite difficult to get those vibes from a fish. You love your fish correctly — perfectly, even — without having to experience any of the ups and downs of making a relationship work.
Sadly, your fish may die. It could live for a few months or a few years, but any time in such a stable relationship comes with heartbreak. It’s a simpler one though, inevitable — the circle of life. Your fish may break your heart, but knowing you provided it with the best love and nurturing you could will make letting it go much easier.
If you don’t think your fish loves you, that’s okay. You don’t need to be loved by someone else to be valuable or important, and your fish proves that to you. Your fish will help you realize your ability to love and care. Maybe it’s meant to be shared with other people, and maybe it’s only meant to be shared with a fish, but the most important relationship for you to focus on is the one with yourself.