To state the obvious, relationship break-ups are rarely easy.
I’ve had some spectacularly spiteful ones.
But, shocking no one more than myself, I’ve had one break-up that was a bit lovely.
Gwyneth might call it consciously uncoupling.
I call it that time I learned self-abnegation.
Once Upon a time.
Our first date.
A dimly lit wine bar.
4 hours and 6 vodkas in, I decided he’d be the one I marry.
In love? Utterly.
The better part of a decade on, not too much had changed, except our combined dress sense and bank balances (both slightly for the better).
Along came one anniversary dinner where we talked.
About life. Love. Our relationship.
The fact that passion now shared our bed with a quiet co-dependency. Mutual networks. Obligations. Our history.
All quite normal and lovely. A path well-trod.
But. In the scheme of life, the mundanity of our lives oft felt like a metronome. There was a lot of life still unexplored.
So we decided to do life apart for a while.
Confident that if we were ‘meant to be’ we’d end up back together.
We abandoned of a life of ‘what if’.
That’s not to say the breaking up was easy.
We oscillated in and out of the staying and the going mindset.
Undoing two lives entwined is logistically challenging.
Giving someone up is hard.
But the hard part is temporary.
Denying someone a chance of total fulfilment?
Surely much harder. And permanent.
Over time, we forged a new kind of intimacy as friends.
We moved on.
Met new people.
Had unexpected adventures.
You can have the mess. The magic. And the mundane.
They’re not mutually exclusive.
You can share 10,000 dinners with the same someone. And still be just as hungry to tear their clothes off as the day you met.
You just need the guts to go after it.
Recently we danced together at a wedding.
To another woman.
It wasn’t exactly the scenario that had played out in my mind at the bar all those years ago.
But seeing him ecstatic made me happier than any other ending.
That is love. Well. I think so.
And that’s a happily ever after, if ever I wrote one.