You’ll wonder what is happening. You will look at the person you’ve looked at every day for the past few years and suddenly feel like all of their facial features are just slightly off. Their nose is too big, their eyes are too far apart, their lips are too thin — something is wrong with them, but every time you go to point it out to yourself so you can pin down exactly what you don’t like, it changes. Their face shifts ever so slightly, and everything is back to normal, and you can’t tell if you just imagined everything.
There is so much in love that is about familiarity, that is about knowing what you’re getting and wanting to come back because it’s better than the promise of anything new. Their whole being starts to change because everything inside of it has, everything between you has, and now the prism through which you see them is one that serves to distort and blur the parts of them that were familiar to you. You don’t know them, so you don’t know their face. You don’t know their hand when it touches you; it will feel like it’s covered in a thin layer of something that you want to wipe off of yourself immediately. They will reach for you under a blanket and, without even realizing it, you will turn away.
The first time you fall out of love always sneaks up on you, because you never learned the little signs. You never learned how to distinguish between the proper fights that need to happen and the grating, stinging, ugly ones that start to take the place of regular conversation because they are the only words that make you feel engaged anymore. You’ll say to yourself, “We just fight a lot, we’re both hard-headed, we both want our way a little too much.” To everyone else, this will sound like a petty excuse for the two-hour dinner you made everyone sit through while you shot barbs at one another across the table. But to you, it will sound perfectly reasonable. You’re just passionate.
But the worst, of course, is when the misguided use of the term “passion” is no longer even applicable. You’re not fighting anymore, you’ve just grown cold. You’ve grown indifferent. You have found a feeling that never used to be in your emotional vocabulary, a sort of numbness to the person who has touched you so much that they’ve worn out their fingerprints on your skin. You no longer know who they are, and they can’t identify themselves. You’ll let yourselves ride along on months of placid apathy, speaking to one another only when it’s necessary, henpecking to get a job done or snapping when asked a simple question. You will have become inconveniences in one another’s lives, a fly that needs to be swatted away but which, for the time, is easier to simply live with.
When it ends, it will really end. And you won’t be ready for it. You will have planned for everything, imagined every scenario, except the one where it is actually over. You won’t be able to call them and go over to their house and have sex that you allow yourself to mistake for a re-kindled love. You will have to accept that they will fall in love with someone else, and you don’t want to keep them because you care for them, you want to keep them because you are greedy and can’t admit defeat. On the day when it becomes clear that it is over, no matter how long you have been out of love, you won’t want to admit that it’s real.
You will try and shake every atom in your body to wake up, to listen, to make everything go back to the way it was. But on some level, you will know that it hasn’t been like that for a very long time. And your real fear is only what it will feel like the next time this happens, because you will be able to see death crawling towards you from a mile away.