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I Just Broke Up With My Partner Of Five Years

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This month I broke up with my partner of 5 years. I’m 24 so that’s almost a quarter of my life and nearly 100% of my drinking years. Proportionally speaking, it’s about the equivalent of your parents’ 20 year marriage just without the kids, a 401k and stale sex.  Spending your young adulthood in a relationship is an interesting thing. A time when most of us are faced with self-discovery, STDs and the real world, I was busy discovering ‘us’, pap smear exempt, and staying in watching The Real World on Thursday nights. If you start dating someone when you’re 20, you grow together like the trained fichus you marvel at in your shrink’s waiting room. Completely intertwined, you share everything: your close college friends, your memories of that year abroad and then there’s the clothes, the drugs, the drinks and the Missoni towels you spent any money you made from your first shitty job on. You become one, no one knew you solo. You even lose your name as you and your other half succumbed to the MaryKateandAshley effect. You start to look alike; you say the same stupid things and stories and realize that you can’t talk to anyone separately for fear of repeating yourselves.

This sounds like a nightmare but the weird thing is, it wasn’t. Perhaps my relationship can fit into a dream classification of another sort–it was kind of like living in Never Never Land. When you enter the real world with someone else, something strange happens, you lose the fear of the unknown realities and you become very brave and even brazen with your actions. Like a child, all inhibitions fall aside.

I missed ‘my’ formative years, but facing the world as two also afforded me the ability to do things that I would’ve never done on my own. To be honest, that time we lived with LCD Soundsystem in their Laurel Canyon mansion or when we dropped everything and moved to Berlin for a year, both would’ve never happened if I were flying solo. The risk was too great for just one person, but being a twosome made it possible and never scary.

I admit, I’m left developmentally challenged. My future social and especially romantic exploits are severely compromised. I don’t even know how to have casual sex.

I have to reprogram my life from ‘we’ to ‘I’. It’s weird to think when I tell my kids about my early 20s, I probably will just ramble on about all the things I did even though it’s really all the things we did. But once that painful extraction begins there is simply no return.

So suddenly, the world around me seems a lot bigger. This is the double edged sword I’m getting at—now that I’m alone it’s a huge scary place out there, but I finally have room to stretch and breath in it. I’m beginning to realize that as a couple we made a perfect infusion but I think as my palate matures, I’m beginning to appreciate simplicity. We’ve or, uh, I’ve made that transition from jack and coke to whiskey on the rocks. TC mark

image – laradanielle

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    • Captain Obvious

      When I was 25 I broke up with my partner of 7 years. I know how you feel. Just don’t go crazy like I did and use people as a distraction. 

    • Eskeller

      its really not the same is your parents 20 yr marriage. just sayin. 

    • http://twitter.com/geology_rocks Haley F

      I did the same thing at 24. I think the fallout was much less severe because a month later I picked up and moved to New York. It was lonely at first, and learning how to casually date was horrifying, but I’m a much happier person now.

    • Shannon kate

      Maybe read the ‘how to get laid’ article.

      See- soul wrenching beauty just makes me callous.

    • Marthabuca

      I can relate, specially to the part of telling stories about things “I” did when it was actually stuff “we” did. It is hard to make that distinction. I tend to forget and that hurts your current partner’s feelings.

    • Anonymous

      I’m really sorry you don’t know how to have casual sex or haven’t had an STD. Bless your heart. Also, don’t compare your 5 year relationship where you lived with indie bands and moved to Berlin, with a 20 year marriage. Marriage is a bit more than that.

      • Amber

        Oh Christ, the girl just broke up with her partner of five years. Give her a break. 

        • Anonymous

          and then wrote a self absorbed article about how her life is pretty much over and no fun can be had after age 25 but long marriages are boring anyway. Its like a 13 yr old is writing in her diary about her most recent breakup, except she found a thesaurus and her older sisters ipod.

        • Amber

          all right Douche McDouche, whatever helps you sleep at night. 

        • Anonymous

          Isn’t that clever?

        • http://www.facebook.com/chptung Chris Tung

          “Marriage is a bit more than that.” I understand that the assumption here is that marriage–and the years put into it–are far more significant and heartbreaking than the 5 year relationship that the author has just ended. But isn’t it at all possible, like KL said, that what she went through in those 5 years changed her on some fundamental level? And if that love that Colette felt did in fact change her and allow her to grow both individually and with another person, then is it not at all possible for that to equal the gravitas of a broken marriage? In the end, isn’t marriage just a legal agreement of between two people that simply validates the existing love between two people? If so then marriage is merely a word. What matters is the love and growth that happens within a marriage, and sorry to disagree, but it is 100% possible for that love to exist before a legal document is written.

          Also to combat this: ” her life is pretty much over” The author herself wrote this in her closing paragraph: “the world around me seems a lot bigger.” Whether or not this is a front or how she genuinely feels, at least she is at a point in this situation where she is attempting to be optimistic. In no way is she simply on a box arguing that her life is over.

      • KL

        What makes you think that her 5 years relationship is any less intense than a 20 year marriage? What makes you think young love is any less than “adult” love? You shouldn’t go around and force your own ideas and belief into others. Ugh.

    • anonymous

       My life story right there

    • http://twitter.com/tbarrios47 Tanya Barrios

      Yeah I’m 22 and just got out of a long-term relationship too. It is weird how everythings fused together – I live in NY now and as much as casual dating freaks me out, still tryin to put myself out there. We’ll see how it goes

    • douchegirl

      Good article. I know the feeling of “the things ‘I’ did are really the things ‘we’ did” even though it was only a one year relationship. I tried many, many, new and scary things that made me a different person. Not better, not worse. Just different. It’s hard to remove myself from those memories. 

    • douchegirl

      Good article. I know the feeling of “the things ‘I’ did are really the things ‘we’ did” even though it was only a one year relationship. I tried many, many, new and scary things that made me a different person. Not better, not worse. Just different. It’s hard to remove myself from those memories. 

    • http://hydeparkblvd.wordpress.com Allison Berger

      Why did you break up?

    • http://www.onemoresalute.com One More Salute to Vanity

      Get a pap smear! No one is exempt! I think you’ll be just fine.

    • CM

      I’d really love to know why you broke up. 

    • http://distractionetc.blogspot.com Jennifer Schaffer

      Gloomy & interesting.

    • Markhamf

      I feel you. Did the same 2 months ago. I  especially feel the line about telling your kids about things you did with your partner that you’ll phrase like you did them alone. Makes me wonder if I’ll see those memories as truly being just part of my life or still part of OUR life years from now.

    • http://twitter.com/kyleangeletti Kyle Angeletti

      Guess it’s time to update that bio. 

    • dvines10

      I find that dating on the otherside of a longterm relationship is tricky at best. The last time we were “on the market” meeting people consisted of group hangouts where you just picked from the litter. As an adult, the social aides are minimal and finding someone you want to spend time with comes few and far inbetween. Work and bars are about the only place I’ve had human contact in so far and god knows one probably shouldn’t pick up a new mate there.

    • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

      I hate to be the one saying this but just because you weren’t out there solo at 22 doesn’t mean you won’t go out and do the same things you said you missed out on now that you’re single. You’re only 24 and the life expectancy for women in the US is roughly 80. 

      Still plenty of time for you to go out and make the kinds of fun mistakes that could make your hypothetical memoirs worth reading.

    • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

      I hate to be the one saying this but just because you weren’t out there solo at 22 doesn’t mean you won’t go out and do the same things you said you missed out on now that you’re single. You’re only 24 and the life expectancy for women in the US is roughly 80. 

      Still plenty of time for you to go out and make the kinds of fun mistakes that could make your hypothetical memoirs worth reading.

    • http://twitter.com/PreSifted Robyn Julia

      This is beautifully written, thank you for sharing. While it will surely feel so effing hard some days, remember to have fun finding yourself and claiming the ‘I’ statements – it’s a whole new adventure and you’re strong enough to live it!

    • xra

      well lucky/unlucky you to have missed the late-teens early 20’s revolving-door alpha-male after alpha-male phase

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10036647 Aimee Vondrak

        So THAT’S what it’s called. You are so right. It ends at 25, yes? :)

    • Tifilating

      This was a great read for me. Recently broke up with my boyfriend of 5.5 years. 20 to 25 is a long time to be with someone! But it is a nice feeling being able to spread my wings!

    • Brittney Baker

      I went through this at 23, immediately jumped into a dead-ending relationship and just let my world fall apart for awhile. It’s the most incredible learning experience and it’s strange now, at 25, “kissing the frogs” when that’s something that supposedly should have been happening at my 18-23 year old period.

    • coffeeandinternets

      Ugh. Girl, I feel for you.  Maybe you could do some stand-up and air your grievances in a way that allows you connect with people about it without alienating them.  I saw a super talented girl — so talented, in fact, that I forget her name completely — do a set once about how she had just left her partner of ten years, and they had been married like four of them.  What could have amounted to awkward silence and averted eyes ended up being a genuinely hilarious fifteen minutes — the audience was invited to be empathic but not pity her.

      And you aren’t doing wrong with the beverage choice, either.

    • http://www.wilfordlauren.tumblr.com Lauren Wilford

      You seem so laid back about it, like “And now time for this next thing.” How are you not just reeling? Why do things have to end?

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