The “Butterfly Effect:” What a racing heart and fluttery stomach do to a Relationship

Often dubbed the “Butterfly Effect,” these subconscious feelings of romance and love are a condition of love-sickness. You make eye contact with a stranger across the room and BANG, your stomach is fluttering, heart is thumping, and mind is racing.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

Before I met Ryosuke, I had a (not terribly long) string of relationships – none lasting more than a month or so. I’m not proud of my dating history, but I’m also not ashamed. Each started out as a potential candidate, someone I sincerely wanted to date. The first couple weeks were fun and magical; every joke he made was funny, every move he made was graceful. I was in the Butterfly Effect; I was drunk on love, with butterflies in my stomach that kept me on cloud nine. But then the butterflies faded.

Sometimes I noticed it right away, like all of a sudden, I realized he wasn’t particularly funny. Or smart. Sometimes I took a little longer to figure out, like when I looked at my phone and saw a new text, I sighed rather than smiled. No matter how it happened, as the days continued, I stopped seeing him in the love-struck rose colored glasses I had donned earlier in the relationship and started seeing him like, well, everyone else saw him.

I never liked the result.

So we broke up.

I don’t remember how many times this cycle repeated or how many “hearts” I broke because of the Butterfly Effect (I do actually feel bad about this now). All that mattered was the fact I felt cheated. I was on the hunt for my soulmate; I wanted someone who my equal; I wanted to settle down with 7 children and travel the world. No one was matching up and it was driving me crazy.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

No matter how the relationship was going, as soon as those butterflies faded, I realized once again I had fallen in love with the idea of love, rather than with the boy I was holding hands with. I would get that sinking, panicked feeling, like I was slowly drowning every time I heard them speak. So I ended the relationship and moved on. Freshman year of college, I had had enough. I promised myself no more relationships unless it was the real thing. No holding hands, no hugging, not even a kiss unless I was sure he was “the one.” Or at least a strong contender for the position of soulmate.

I’m not going to lie, it was pretty lonely. I cried myself to sleep some nights and spent other nights clutching my stuffed rabbit tightly while watching romantic comedies. I was still on the hunt, but this time I had a “three month” rule. If I liked them constantly for three months (three times the usual shelf life of any of my relationships), then I would act on it.

No one passed the “three month” rule.

The first day of my freshman year of college, while I was busy unpacking, one of my good friends threw open the door to my room in excitement. “Grace! You’ve got to meet the Japanese exchange student, Muscles! He’s like. He’s like WOW. He’s like Japanese me. You will love him. He’s so cool!!”

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

Before I could say anything, he was gone. I met Muscles, (aka Ryosuke) later that evening; a group of went out to dinner. My first impression of him was the fact he was bald, had a huge mole on his chin, and wouldn’t stop smiling.

I don’t remember when I realized I loved Ryosuke. It all stemmed from something I never had in any of my other relationships: trust. I not only trusted him, but also trusted his decisions, hobbies, and thoughts on life. When he got down on one knee at Tokyo Disneyland with my mother’s old wedding ring clutched tightly in his trembling fingers, I never even stopped to think.

I’ve never looked back; I’ve never thought about what “we” are.

A couple months ago, when one of my friends was having dating problems, I realized I haven’t felt the “first-love butterflies” on months. I don’t know when they stopped. Surprisingly enough, the thing that has killed all my previous relationships hasn’t even made a dent on this one.

Looking back, I can’t think of a time I didn’t love Ryosuke; I can’t remember a time when I didn’t value his opinion as much as my own; I don’t understand how I was able to make major life decisions without his straightforward thinking, carefree logic, and positive thinking; and I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life without him – butterflies or no butterflies.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

Then, sometimes, when I take a step back and catch him digging through the wooden cabbage rack at our favorite grocery store, weighing the two cabbages with his hands, trying intensely to figure out which is the better, I feel a little flutter.

It’s just a small flutter, but it is real. The butterflies aren’t dead, they’re just sleeping. They know I don’t need them anymore; I prefer the eternal bliss to the quenching flutters of the “first love butterflies.”

I prefer Ryosuke.

Inner racial, innerracial Japanese American couple

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About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

15 Comments on The “Butterfly Effect:” What a racing heart and fluttery stomach do to a Relationship

  1. This is such a beautiful post and so true! I had felt the exact way for years. I always felt like something was missing and I was never going to figure out what it was. When the butterflies came I realised, this was it… But they never lasted :(
    Then I met my partner of 3 years. He came along out of nowhere. I expected nothing from the relationship because I was soon to move 3 hours drive away but he kept on making an effort with me. He never gave up! I trusted him, I believed in him and his positivity and strength made me fall in a deeper kind of love then the butterflies could ever give. At first you wonder if what you feel is a special as you think it is because the butterflies aren’t as prominent. “Do I really Love him?” I kept thinking to myself, until I realised… No one has ever made me feel as safe or as emotional stable as he did and no one has ever shown me as much love or care. Of course I loved him. I knew it the whole time but I couldn’t help questioning it because I was used to disappointment.
    He still hasn’t disappointed me to this day and I don’t see how he ever could.

    Thanks for such a lovely post.

  2. This is so sweet and exactly how I feel about my husband of nine years. Those butterflies don’t even hold a candle to how wonder it feels to be so perfectly in sync with your “one”. <3
    Love your blog, Grace. It's fantastic.

  3. Reading this suddenly brought tears to my eyes. Lucky both of u to met each other. Wish for long happiness to both of u. :)

  4. I think this is one of the more poignantly-written pieces I’ve ever read about love. :) I don’t have any experience with it–I’m still in the clutching-my-white-rabbit-watching-romantic-comedies stage–but this is EXACTLY what I want. Down to the smallest detail. Except, you know, my version, ha ha. xD But thank you for sharing a story that makes me sigh with contentment, because love like this ISN’T something in my head, or something I’m only ever going to see in books and movies, like everyone tells me it is. ‘Just settle,’ they say, ‘what you’re looking for is impossible. It doesn’t exist.’
    But obviously it DOES exist, and I’m dang well going to wait for it, because this blog right here holds some of the best examples of something worth waiting for, if there ever was one. ^^
    Thank you so much.

    • Thank you so much!
      I find myself going back through some of the older stuff I’ve written, often cringing (and then deleting the post), but sometimes stopping and being like “hey. I still agree with this. Awesome.”

      I hope you get your version of this story soon! :)

  5. Oh Lord, you just made me realize something : the butterfly effect is not a necessary condition to love, trust is more important.
    I honestly adore you for pointing that out : I know I love my boyfriend now, for sure.

  6. OhMiGosh, you two are soooo cute together! Bless ya ;) Living in Japan must be quite an adventure!

  7. I love Love stories.

  8. Anonymous // 27 May, 2013 at 1:05 am //

    Oh my goodness, this is freaking adorable. ^^ Love you, Grace~ <3 Now try to figure out who this is. Kekeke~

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