This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
This week, I, like the rest of the Olympics-watching world, had gotten caught up in the delirious furor over the idea that Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue are not, despite all signs apparently pointing to the contrary, fucking. Around midday on Wednesday—which is to say around half past Moir-Virtue ice sex time and just prior to Moir-drunkenly-heckling-hockey-refs-o’clock—I sent my boyfriend of seven years a link to the Twitter account @nearlight, which is basically just a feed of suggestive Moir-Virtue gifs and memes. It’s steamy, in exactly the same way that many centuries-old forms of ballroom dancing have been purposefully steamy since time immemorial. Why on earth did it take putting two Canadian millennials on skates for everyone to realize this?
But I digress.
“This account is making me feel jello,” my boyfriend, also a millennial (see: “jello”), replied, “of their special relationship.”
His sentiment was and is not interesting—again, most of the internet this week has been going absolutely batshit over the idea that an expertly performed pas de deux is not a type of foreplay—so much as it echoed a particular sort of anguish that I, myself, have been feeling this week. Moir and Virtue’s relationship is very real; this isn’t like watching a rom-com and losing sleep over whether or not someone will ever run through an airport departures gate to win you back. But they aren’t dating. They’ve never dated. They (probably) aren’t even sleeping together. They have the perfect fairy-tale romance without all of the bullshit that comes with actual romance because it’s not real. Except it is. But not in the way we think it is. But it might as well be, for how perfect it is. Except it isn’t perfect because it isn’t real. But isn’t it? No. No?
I’m certainly not alone. All the memes and jokes and dedicated Twitter accounts aside, the positioning of Moir and Virtue as #relationshipgoals is not without a whisper of anxious veracity. As Katherine Laidlaw wrote in the National Post last weekend: “We see the crackling moments of cinematic chemistry between them, but this isn’t the movies—it’s better. And every four years when they blaze across our screens, they give us something to hope for: that this kind of intimacy is not only real, but that it can last. That this kind of synchronicity, intimacy, understanding between two humans is not only possible, but gorgeously achievable.”
Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue are real people with a real human relationship who happen to embody—or at least happen to have projected upon them—every unrealistic trope of Hollywood romance. This possibility muddies the water considerably for the rest of us, who occasionally find solace in the widely accepted fact that Hollywood romance doesn’t exist in real life. The only solace here is that they’re not a real couple. But, then again, it feels kind of shitty to think that. Watching them, you may have never invested as much of yourself into a real relationship as Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue have invested in, essentially, getting along as co-workers.
The type of intimacy Moir and Virtue embody—or, at least, the type that we’re all projecting onto Moir and Virtue—does, certainly, exist in real life. But as anyone who has been romantically involved with someone for more than, let’s say, six months to a year will tell you that type of intimacy—when it’s real—has an expiration date. (Or, if it doesn’t seem to be waning, it’s turned into the type of rabid, urgent passion that portends life-ruining, hot-blooded, window-smashing, cop-calling catastrophe.)
Frankly, the fact that Moir and Virtue still seem to be so desperately into each other after two decades—the fact that he still can’t hold back from burying his face in her neck whenever it’s visible to him; the fact that the look they shoot each other when one finishes the other’s sentence is affection and not agitation—is practically positive proof that they aren’t monogamously, romantically involved. The type of pure, whole, electric synchronicity required to pull off thatMoulin Rouge routine is entirely predicated on no one ever having resented the other for forgetting to take out the recycling and leaving the seat up and clogging the sink with their hair. Again.Or could it? In my current relationship, I don’t have the luxury of sending an entire country of overnight ice-skating fans into a tizzy through coy non-denial denials that my partner and I are dating because you can tell we’re dating. Like Moir and Virtue, we also display a physical and mental synchronicity, but it’s the kind that comes with slogging through the years of emotional and physical labor of being in love, not training for world championships. We don’t gaze into each other’s eyes so much as we roll our eyes at each other; we don’t breathe in sync before taking on a difficult task so much as we ensure we’ve delegated according to what we know the other person is incapable of doing; when one of us kisses the other without warning, we give them shit for their bad breath. You know we’re a couple because we’re obviously so fucking tired of each other all the time, and our literal careers don’t depend on pretending otherwise.
Couples get to know each other as people, not as teammates whose success is contingent on athletic compatibility. The most difficult part of settling into a relationship is exactly that: settling. Not in the sense of accepting less, but the way houses settle into their foundation: creaking, shifting, and sinking into a stillness that’s a little less dynamic, but a lot more solid. And athletes—which, to be clear, is what Moir and Virtue are—don’t settle! They’ll forever be daring each other to twizzle a bit twizzlier, and gaze a bit deeper because if they don’t, their whole act—which, to be clear, is what it is—falls apart.
Though I tell myself all of this—and we will all tell ourselves all of this, all the time, long after we’re done shipping Moir and Virtue—and I still find myself wishing there would be something sexy about it if I hurled myself crotch-first into my boyfriend’s face.