Relationships are hard. I’m not just talking about romantic ones, either. I’m talking about relationships in general – from family to friends to dating to marriage. Relationships are incredibly hard. Despite the popular belief that “love’s all you need,” so many relationships fall apart. Now, I’m no Sherlock, but to me, that suggests that love’s NOT all you need. As I see it, love (be it friendly or romantic) comes second, after another key thing – trust. Sukitte Ii Na Yo, or, for any other non-Japanese-speaking people, “Say ‘I Love You’,” showcases this concept beautifully, in my opinion.
Sukitte Ii Na Yo is a brief anime following the story of Mei Tachibana, a girl who has decided that she wants nothing to do with people, and Yamato Kurosawa, the most popular guy at school. *Cue music* He was a boy, she was a girl, can I make it any more obvious?! *End music*. Kidding, But yes, as you can guess by the title, it’s a romance, and the plot is driven by these two falling for each other. Now despite the anime obviously pushing some themes, such as accepting body image or learning not to lie to yourself, one of the subtler themes that’s not made so apparent is the fact that behind this love story, pushing that along, is a “trust story.”
…Behind this love story, pushing that along, is a “trust story”.
Now, I’m going to focus on romantic relationships for most of this. I’ll look briefly at other kinds later. For now, though, consider this a brief excerpt of dating advice from a single girl who’s seen her share of hard times in dating (and friendships in general). This experience is probably why I empathize so strongly with Mei. As someone who was bullied in elementary school and who was cheated on after 14 months with a guy, I sometimes have those “it’s easier to just avoid people” days in addition to days where just NOT risking another romantic relationship seems more appealing than the alternative.
This post’s not going to be me telling a sob story or throwing a pity party, though. The above was noted merely to show the logic driving my “assumptions.” The reason most relationships fall apart – or simply never start – is due to a trust problem. See, trust needs to be a foundation for any healthy relationship. Why? Trust is something that allows people to do a few things such as 1) be honest and open and 2) respect the other person. All of these things are needed before love can really flourish.
In Sukitte Ii Na Yo Mei and Yamato start things off on the wrong foot – with a kiss. Now no, no one was trying to jump ahead too soon. That original kiss was done in an attempt to scare off a stalker (just… watch the anime and it’ll make sense). However, it threw things into the plot-driving turmoil that leads to the rest of the show’s episodes. Why? Mei didn’t know what to make of that kiss. As much as Yamato could say what he wanted about it, she didn’t know him well and thus didn’t trust him.
Over the rest of the series, Yamato works with Mei to help her learn to trust people again – himself, included. He encourages her to put faith in people, just to give them a chance to show they can be trusted to follow through. He also continues to show her through not just his words but his actions that she can trust him. She slowly learns to trust in him and the friends she’s met through him. As she does this, she also begins to acknowledge her growing feelings towards him.
No anime would be complete without a crisis, though (sort of like any and all relationships). After finally putting full trust in Yamato and accepting her feelings for him, leading to them starting dating, Mei finds out Yamato has been keeping secrets from her – about visiting another girl. Now no, he wasn’t cheating on her. However, at that point, their relationship suddenly begins to falter. Neither one’s feelings have changed – they both still love each other, which makes the entire problem that much more painful. What changed was that something chipped away a little bit at Mei’s trust in Yamato.
Now, of course, being a romance anime, this all gets sorted out, everyone makes their apologies, and the two get their happily ever after. In reality, though, this is not always the case…. In fact, it’s more often NOT the case. In reality, we like to confuse broken down trust with “falling out of love.” We prescribe the wrong fix to the problem. We break up or burn bridges instead of stepping back, negating the hurricane of emotion, and looking at something beyond our unsteady “feelings” in that moment. Now sure, sometimes, we may just stop feeling that “connection” with someone due to entirely different reasons, BUT, often I think the problem lies in a shift in our trust.
In reality, we like to confuse broken down trust with “falling out of love”.
By nature, we are all selfish. It’s human nature to make yourself number 1. As such, we become naturally defensive and wary around those we don’t trust. That’s why relationships are so hard. We’ve all faced betrayal or broken trust in one form or another – be that from family, a friend, or a significant other. That just makes it a little harder to trust next time. Without that trust, though, we’re never going to be able to develop a legitimate love for people around us. Often we say that a best friend is someone who you can be 100% yourself with. In other words, they’re someone you TRUST enough to be fully and completely vulnerable with. The same can be said in finding a good partner.
So, next time you’re in a relationship that’s hit a shaky spot, be that with a friend or something more, before making a knee-jerk decision to cut things off because you “feel” it’s best, stop. Think about it. If you find that maybe, just maybe, they somehow damaged the trust between you, you ought to give it a bit more thought. Sometimes, the damage is irreparable (contrary to popular belief, not all things can be ignored as if they “never happened” – take being cheated on as an example). At that point, maybe it is best to cut ties. However, if it was something minor, or they’re someone who means a lot to you, perhaps you should give them a chance to fix that trust. After all, if Mei never gave Yamato a chance to fix things, they never would have gotten their happy ending!