I think if we broke up, we'd both be fine
Sometimes I have to remind myself that just because I like someone and think them cool and clever and successful doesn’t mean I always have to agree with them.
A person who I happen to like and think is cool and clever and successful said something along these lines the other day:
‘If you say that if you broke up with your significant other you’d be fine, then what the hell are you doing with them?’
I thought, as I often do when I see something on social media from someone I like, that because I don’t agree with the above statement, that I must be wrong. I thought that I would have to re-evaluate the way I feel, shift gears in my mind, realise that my thinking is problematic and misguided and naive and change. But this time I’m sticking to my guns. Because I think, if BZ and I were to part ways, that I would be fine. I really think I would be.
I don’t mean to sound glib. I would be fine, not happy, not thrilled, not throwing parties celebrating singledom and grabbing life by its proverbials, just fine. I think I would be OK, able to go on and get on with things. That isn’t to say that I hope it happens any time soon or at all, really, because I don’t. I’m sure, of course, that if the big break up did happen I would be Very Sad Indeed for quite a while. Devastated probably. It would be a complete volte-face on my entire adult life and something that would take a lot of getting used to. I don’t want to minimise how gut-wrenching a split must be, I just don’t think it would totally obliterate me. I know it would be awful to divvy up our things, and wrench pictures from the walls, and navigate the social circle we have built and figure out sleeping alone night after night but I think I would be fine, after a while.
And I think that’s because, with no disrespect to him, he is a welcome supplement to a life (mine!) that I am already pretty happy with. And many of the facets of the life that I am pretty happy with are not dependent on him. We work in very different fields. We have different social circles that sometimes overlap and that the other sometimes dips their toes into. We have different interests. I am very invested in the lives of many minor American celebs and he prefers to read up on stoicism. He reads fact, I read fiction. He goes climbing and I go to combat. We have different ways of operating. I love to be alone whilst he loathes it. He sleeps in, I get up early. He is practical, I am not. He is easy-going, I am not. He is generally a very good and kind and patient person and I am not. Despite the fact that we live together, often we will go a few days passing each other like ships in the night due to our different and various commitments, and we will start to miss each other. I will get back into bed for five minutes, fully-clothed, before I go to work, just to be close, he will call just to check in and we will end up chatting for twenty minutes, we go to bed late just from laughing. All that to say that we love each other, very much indeed, but we do live lives that are very full despite each other.
Our relationship is not perfect (whose is?), but I am happy that we are not entirely co-dependent. We have built a little partnership of which the foundation is support. We want the best, most-fulfilled lives possible for each other, whether that means it is convenient or not. He respected my decision to move to Brazil and then Spain and continued to love me across an ocean. I respect the part of his personality that is spontaneous and does categorically no forward planning, and continue to show affection through dates in the diary and a packed lunch box every day. I am not as generous a person as he is, but I try. We have always tried to give each other a leg up in life. We do not live for each other, but we both play a major part in trying to make the other’s life a little bit easier.
And so I hope that if Me and Him came to an end, we would both be able to go on. I would like to hope that we would both be civil with one another, maybe even friends, former colleagues who were both once in the business of making each other happy. Perhaps I feel this way because I bore witness to a big break up, that of my parents, who split after thirty years of marriage and who now are actually quite good friends. I don’t know how that happened or the ups and downs they must have weathered to get to that point, and really that’s no one’s business but their own, but they still laugh together and keep up with each other and seem to be genuinely invested in the other’s happiness. I realise how lucky I am for this to have happened, and that it is probably not the norm, but it has shown me how one can come out of a relationship and be not just fine, but also happy for the other person.
I am starting to doubt that any of this makes sense, so as I am wont to do, I am about to reduce my very meaningful and intimate relationship to a food stuff. I feel like the best way I can explain what I mean is by likening my incredible, handsome, generous and kindly boyfriend to gravy. Bear with me. Life is like a roast dinner and he is like the gravy. The roast dinner is made up of lots of different parts, distinct flavours and textures and experiences and hot and cold and the bits you don’t like and bits you love, a bit like life (Christ, I know, this is far-flung, but stay on the bus just a while longer). And he is like the gravy. He pulls all of it together. He adorns, beautifully, what is already a complete experience, and makes it hotter and tastier and makes the the burnt roast potato or the overcooked carrot just that little bit easier to get through. He, like gravy, makes it better (in my own personal opinion, feel free to liken your own romantic partner to bread sauce or mustard or another of your preferred condiments). A roast dinner, to me, is not the same without gravy, but it is still edible, it is just fine.