Photo by Emily Long
You’re not sure if it was a culmination of small annoyances or a glaring character flaw that made you fall out of love. Maybe no one ever knows. Just like how you wake up one day and find yourself madly in love with the person sleeping beside you. You can also wake up to find that they don’t look the same anymore, their quirks annoy you a little more than before, you’re a little more short-tempered with them, you find yourself wanting more alone time.
Then the prospect of going out with that attractive, stylish and charismatic co-worker crosses your mind more times than not. You feel guilty that you’re daydreaming about being with someone else but you can’t bring yourself to admit that the relationship is over.
It hurts too much, it’s too messy and you’re in the thick of it. You’re fully integrated into one another’s lives. You’re on a goddamn family plan for God’s sake. You can’t leave now because you’re scared that you can’t function without him. The thought sends chills down your spine and you quickly dismiss it.
Now you don’t even want him to touch you. Every caress, every peck on the cheek, every hug, every incidental brush feels deadening to you. It used to bring you joy and giddiness to see his name pop up on your phone with a “just because I was thinking of you” text message. Now it’s an annoyance, a chore to respond. He asks you why you don’t text back and you reluctantly tell him that there wasn’t anything you wanted to say. That’s the hard, stone-cold truth. There aren’t any new stories you want to share anymore, or a running list of non-sequiturs, or the latest gossip, or how the Knicks are doing (the answer is always poorly). You used to finish each other’s sentences, and now you barely answer each other’s questions.
You can’t sleep anymore. As soon as he slips into bed, you get up and make a beeline for the couch and tell him that his snoring keeps you awake. In actuality, you’re awake because you don’t know how much longer you can continue in a decaying relationship. Dynamics have changed. You’ve recovered from depression and don’t need him in the same way. Now he doesn’t know who he is in relation to you. How could he understand you if he can’t even understand who he is? You no longer challenge, develop, inspire each other.
You imagine that he would be happier if he settled down with a less complicated girl from a good family background who dreams of starting a family of her own someday. In a strange way, this idea brings you reprieve. You plot an escape plan. You imagine running swiftly away to the open road ahead, not knowing where it’ll lead you but you power ahead anyway as fast as your short legs can take you.
You finally decide to end it. You make an appointment with your couples therapist and tell her that you’ve had enough. It’s time to show courage for both of you and break it off. You inadvertently blindside him. He’s surprised to see you at his therapy session.
You tell him how you need to be more independent, you need time to figure out who you are, you want to date and see what is out there. You feel it’s toxic that he enables you, you are grateful for his support and care but you ultimately need to leave the nest, leave this dynamic, leave him.
You tell him that you will always love him but that you are no longer in love with him. There isn’t a dry eye in the room. A saga has ended. You hug him one last time, gripping him tightly and for a brief moment, it feels like time has stopped, and it is just you two in the world. You come out of that embrace knowing that things will never be the same again. Then you go your separate ways.
You’re now alone again and wonder how you’re going to make it on your own. You wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, in a state of frenzy not knowing where you are for a moment. You’re a bundle of nerves as you wonder how you’ll make next month’s rent, pay the electricity bill, take care of your dog, feed yourself, get up for work all while navigating through the treacherous waters of the dating world without sinking. You slowly calm yourself down and doze off listening to the acoustic song covers on Spotify. You wake up to find that you’re not in love anymore and start the day wondering when that love will come back into your life.