As a younger woman, I would force relationships where they didn’t belong. When I was 24, my best friend and I began an ill advised romance; even though we loved each other dearly, it was completely dysfunctional. We fought incessantly, often with him saying cruel and malicious things or lying to me, and me becoming desperate and hysterical, but still hell bent on continuing with the relationship. I just loved him so much, and it was a time when I still believed love to be the ultimate antidote to all evils. As such, I was never able to separate the way I felt about him from the fact that our relationship was just not working.
Over the years I’ve done the same with both lovers and friends–unable to disengage the feeling of liking or loving from the practical considerations of actually being together. The saddest place to be sometimes is in the void between being crazy about someone and being compatible with them. It’s such a bittersweet engagement, to be tied up between the monumental feelings of tenderness and desire towards another person, but to have none of the sticky stuff required to glue the two of you together.
People can be smart, funny, good looking, kind–all the admirable qualities that draw us to them in the first place–and yet they can harbor radical opinions, strange habits, or something as simple as a different approach to communication to yours, factors which create an immense gulf between the way you feel about them and how compatible you are with them. And while trying to fit a square peg in a round hole is challenging, harder still is admitting defeat–that your feelings actually don’t amount to anything more than feelings. That there is nothing tangible you can grab onto to tether yourself to this other human, the one that for whatever reason, has crawled up inside your heart, pushed out a niche between some tissue and is rolling about having a right old romp, smothered in your blood.
When you’re young, love is the enema that purges you of hardship–it wasn’t so long ago that I genuinely believed that if you loved someone enough, you could make them happy, and that they could make you happy in turn. Unfortunately, life, as it turns out, is far more complicated, and there are many more necessary elements required for a happy partnership–similar values and interests, coinciding life trajectories and plans, mutual respect, shared intellect and expectations, emotional understanding, just to name a few. As boring as it might sound, being completely enamoured with someone isn’t enough of a foundation to cultivate a thriving relationship.
It’s become easier for me now, inching towards the end of my twenties, to separate being taken with a madness over someone, to actually discerning whether or not they are right for me and my life. And it’s certainly become easier for me to walk away when the fit isn’t right, as opposed to the stubborn melodrama I once engaged in. But there’s still always that pang; that second where, as I lay my shiny jewel back down in the sand where I found it, my stomach drops to my knees and my eyes begin to burn as I turn away from a treasure abandoned, one that I leave discarded to fall into another pair of grubby hands–perhaps the hands in which they truly belong.