I think a lot of people are secretly in love with failure. We know that having a stash of traumatic, broken romances to trot out amongst friends and colleagues is often instant cache. Even more so if the stories include a current one. A train already off the tracks, but which has not quite reached it’s final resting place. “Oh, my heart is breaking. Let me tell you all the juicy details about that jackass.”
For some folks, any relationship that doesn’t “last a lifetime” is a failure.
But actually, failure is simply a judgement we attach to what happened. In some ways, it doesn’t matter if you are with someone a few gorgeous weeks, or if you spend sixty years with them.
Instead of leaping to judgement, consider what you have learned. Consider how much joy came from your connection. How many amazing, unrepeatable experiences you had together.
A little over fours years ago, I dated a woman for about seven weeks. Among other things, I learned from her that I could move on. That I didn’t have to cling to the false hope of rekindling the long term relationship I had before meeting her. That I wasn’t doomed to being single. That the mistakes I made in the past were not being used as some kind of punishment by the cosmic dating gods.
The reality is that I didn’t figure out these lessons, or several others, until long after she was gone. I hadn’t yet developed the horse-sense to pay closer attention, and take what comes as an opportunity to learn and grow.
One week before she broke up with me, she told me she thought she loved me. “Thought” would turn out to be the key word in the sentence. She wanted to love me, but actually she loved someone else. Someone she’d been friends with for years. Someone with whom, I found out later, she would get married to less than six months after our relationship was done.
When she broke up with me, I was angry with her for “messing with my emotions.” In fact, that anger lingered for awhile, months probably if I’m honest. However, when I look back today, I realize that I was really angry at myself. For missing the clear signs of ambivalence she had displayed throughout our time together.
We had some great hikes together though. I remember in particular a moment where I was standing on top of a hill with my arms flung to a partly cloud sky. She looked up at me, laughed, and told me she always wanted to be able to fly.
Every relationship is impermanent, even the ones that last a “lifetime.” It’s how you live them, and then remember them, that really matters.
Dolphins @ Flickr