Does love have to be this hard?
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Dear Miss Information,
I’m a 25-year-old woman and my five year relationship ended about two months ago. We had a very intense relationship: moved in with each other right away and through four different cities. But in the last year or so, I became the center of his life and he never got around to building something for himself. Of course this was very hard on the relationship, as he was quite addicted to me, and every night I would spend with friends was difficult for him. I tried to talk to him about it for a long time, but he only really got it when I kicked him out. We moved to different apartments and tried to find a balance, but it just didn’t work. I got sick of feeling like I was betraying him each time I spent a night with friends, plus there was the issue of me wanting to have occasional encounters with other people (that wasn’t news, I always believed in this and we talked about it from day one), on which I only acted on once, and he seemed to be okay with it, but of course, it actually made him very paranoid – which I never intended. Then one day he had a complete breakdown and broke up with me, because over the course of our relationship he completely lost himself.
The thing is, our love is very deep and very intense, we know each other like no one else in the world, and have a deep understanding of each other on almost all levels. Sex is amazing, banter is amazing, communication is amazing, the work we do together is amazing, and everything else is, too. We both want to get together again, but his crisis is a big one and time needs to pass, that is sure. Last weekend we met, spent some time together, and it was beautiful.
But, during the time we were apart, he spent a lot of time with another woman, who I am suddenly jealous of. We talked on the phone and he said he’d ended it with the girl he was seeing mainly because he really needs to deal with himself – and so now I’m supersupersuper confused. I cried for days, because I’m so scared of letting go or losing him, but on the other hand I know that we cannot get together again when I haven’t let go first – so on other days I push myself to concentrate on work, or get drunk, but the pain is always there and so I have to fight myself every day not to call him, not to just say ‘come here, take me in your arms and lets just forget about all that’ – because I know he needs this time for this process. Then again, there are those moments where I just cannot understand why it is so fucking impossible and difficult. How do I keep this from driving me crazy?
— Losing My Mind Gradually
Dear Losing Your Mind,
There is this strange idea we tend to have that true love is turbulent, that obsession and romance are entangled, that ecstasy can’t exist without being twinned to anguish. This idea pervades our literature, our music, our great films. If art, the most tangible and permanent form of passion we humans know, says it must be true, then it is, right?
No. Wrong. Not. True. Despite my dog-eared copy of Love in the Time of Cholera, I wanted to deliver a swift slap to Florentino Ariza – move on, bro. The beauty there is in Garcia Marquez’s writing, not in the anguished ardor – but hey! This is not an advice column for woebegone literary characters (though if anyone finds that idea half as charming as I do, I will so write it), so let’s move on.
We fight when we’re in love, yeah, and there will always be rough times, but if you’re chronically clutched in the grips of passion and woe, constantly throwing yourself onto chaise lounges with a wrist pressed dramatically to your forehead, sobbing, then spoiler alert: your relationship is doomed.
Here’s what I hear you saying: a relationship with a person you love started out great, but the two of you turned out to be co-dependent and terrible with boundaries, and he wasn’t cool with the idea of you sleeping with other people (reasonable) or hanging out with friends (less reasonable), so your relationship imploded in spectacular fashion, except you two are still both so co-dependent and terrible with boundaries that the breakup just won’t stick, even though your reasons for breaking up are manifold and valid. Did I get that right? If so, then I am sorry, sister, but it may be too late to save you from going off the deep end. (Further evidence: “he was quite addicted to me” – barf!) But we can try to bring you back.
In the words of one of my favorite breakup songs, just because it’s real don’t mean it’s gonna work. I get it, you love him. But homeboy needs to start a life for himself and props to you for recognizing it. Now you need to let him go do that, without you. You have your own shit to do. Let him go. Cry it out, whatever. But let him go, because that’s the right and decent and sane thing to do for both of you right now. Is that too hard? Hell yeah. Are you going to suck it up like a grown-up and do it anyway? Hell yeah. Are you going to eventually fall in love again, with someone with whom you can lead parallel and joint lives without becoming a pair of weird conjoined twins where one gets utterly consumed by the other? You betcha. So stop calling your ex. Spend time with your friends, guilt-free. Go fuck all those beautiful people you’ve been missing out on. Make some art about it all. Listen to the most pathetic breakup songs you can find, and belt your heart out. Work on your own life, because you need that too. We all do.
Image via Terrell Woods