A couple of years ago, I watched a friend of mine languish beside me on a bed as we listened to The Smiths. The song on repeat was “I Know It’s Over,” which was appropriate to the point of cheese since this dude she was seeing suddenly ended things with her.
It was hard to watch, and now I can’t even listen to The Queen Is Dead in its entirety without thinking about that August night full of sweat, tears, and Morrissey’s droning.
Despite feeling a little too much like a scene out of an ’80s movie, nothing about it was all that unfamiliar. I’ve watched plenty of friends go through breakups, but it was usually from the perspective of somebody who had never dated anyone or had any intimate interaction with another human being, ever. My perspective has shifted slightly over the past year, now that I’m in my first relationship. But when it comes to heartbreak, I’ve never experienced it, so I’m still not adept at consoling people on that front. I don’t know what I’d want to hear, so I never really know what to say as I awkwardly watch a friend groan about their relationship’s demise.
From serial daters to the long-term-and-loving-it-until-it-becomes-shit set, if there’s one thing most of them have in common, it’s a relationship that has gone south. But they’re also able to look back on those relationships and know that they’ve learned a lesson from them. When the angst subsides, clarity replaces it. Maybe they’ve learned something about themselves, maybe they’ve learned something about the type of people they need to avoid in the future, whatever. The point is, there’s a growth there that sprouts out of the anguished texts, the moping, and the general madness.
Sometimes I’m a little worried that this is missing from my half of my current relationship.
I’ve never experienced heartbreak, but I don’t always feel all that lucky about that. Isn’t having a few shitty relationships pretty much a requirement of growing up?
I know, I’m a late bloomer on the romance front, and I’m not eager to find out what it’s like to cry over a boy. I’m an optimist who hasn’t gone through enough relationships to become a complete cynic. I’ve never exchanged I love you’s with anyone before, only to watch that love crash and burn. I’m literally the living, breathing definition of naïve as fuck. And I’m sure some people reading this will insist that going through the shittiness of a breakup is an essential part of the human experience, and that you can’t even know what you really want or need in “the one” until you go through a few.
My boyfriend has had a fair share of relationships in his life, one of which seemed to have ended very badly and just straight-up isn’t up for discussion despite my nosiness. That’s fine, I respect that, it’s not really any of my business. Still, I get the impression that because of former flames—like most twenty-somethings who have been through everything from awkward high school trysts to Important College Relationships™—he has a general idea of what he’s looking for in a relationship.
Somehow, for nearly a year now, he’s managed to find it in me, an occasionally funny black virgin who writes about her vagina for a living. I try not to think about this relationship ending, and I’m not interested in going through a breakup just for a lesson in sorrow and relating to a Smiths song. But I can’t help but wonder if my naiveté to soured love is less than ideal.
I also can’t help but think of the one couple I know who have been together since high school. They’re now in their twenties, sickeningly well-suited for each other, and pretty fucking adorable. They don’t have much to go on when it comes to former relationships either, but they’re making it work. I know, this is an anomaly, but it also gives me a little hope that sometimes you don’t need to go through shitty relationship after shitty relationship to finally find yourself in one that works for you.
I’m definitely getting a little ahead of myself, and maybe in a few years I’ll look back at this post and cringe. But it’s a little hard not to get ahead of myself given the fact that my relationship is officially in serious territory. We’re talking about an abstract future together in safe semantics, sticking to open ended ifs and maybes, leaving open the possibility for disaster but also hoping that’s not the case. I like that, I’m excited about that, I’m trying to maintain some fucking chill about that. But I’m also like, “Am I missing something?”
Well, am I?
Maybe I’ve romanticized the growth my friends experience after breakups. And maybe—just maybe—I should stop.
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