I recently ended a rather intense relationship with someone who had been such a huge part of my life for the past few years. I wouldn’t exactly class what we had as a normal relationship; it didn’t fit into the mould of what a normal relationship is supposed to be, nor was it ever really defined. It wasn’t also always sexual in its nature, there were long moments where we cultivated a friendship which was at some points more important than anything we shared. While the decision to part ways was a mutual one, where we sat, talked and chose to part ways, it still hurts more than it was expected to.

I spent about a week or so crying after the end of this “relationship”. I cried partly because I missed him terribly, but also, I cried for me, for the loss of a good friend and for the loss of a love, that to me transcended the normal boundaries of societal expectations. For the most part, our relationship had been positive, although it had also had its share of harrowing moments of pain and hurt.

I always felt guilty for knowing better than hanging around him but doing it anyway. As a feminist, you’re supposed to have all the answers when it comes to what is healthy and what isn’t when it comes to a relationship, right? So it was a conflict. Knowing what you deserve, foregoing that in favour of thrilling uncertainty and a deep physical connection that surprisingly had very little to do with sex, and deciding that being hurt eventually was going to be worth it, goes against everything feminism teaches us. But one of the biggest lessons I learned in this period is that life is not black and white.

Letting him go didn’t change how I felt about him…

Imagine someone who is your biggest fan and critic, who understands what you’re about, even if they don’t understand you completely, who is willing to make certain uncomfortable choices to make you happy but cannot fully commit to you. Imagine you, being in a place where you don’t want to know anyone else, because you’re exhausted, having strong feelings which you’re not sure is wise to act on and forming a bond which you know will ultimately be your downfall. That was us. A combustible combination of chemicals which never should have mixed. 

I don’t regret knowing this person and we aren’t completely out of each other’s lives; we just redefined our boundaries but it still didn’t stop my heart from breaking into a million pieces, the moment we realised we could not continue in this pseudo-relationship. It’s has been a harrowing experience which is only second to how it felt the first time we actually properly broke up from what our previous relationship was.

There are so many lessons I learned that I hope ultimately make me a better person and a better partner when I am ready to date. It’s not enough to look out for red flags, you have to be completely compatible with someone. They have to get you; your jokes, your flaws, your shortcomings and strengths and they have fo be willing to accept them. After a certain age, people are set in their ways—but only to an extent—people CAN still change parts of themselves for the ones who really matter to them.

So where do I go from here...

Love can be complicated and that’s okay. You’re not always going to find things as straight forward as you’d like. People come with their own realities and you have to navigate that, the same way they have to navigate yours. Ultimately, if two people aren’t willing to be participants in each other’s realties it will not work. I don’t know how long I’ll grieve for, but I’m open to it. The most empowering thing about my grief is being mature enough to understand that I’m not doing it for the other person, but for myself. I grief knowing that it’s light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the realisation that I’m not as jaded as I thought and I can still bleed, which means I still have the capacity for deep connections and even deeper love. Because sometimes love sucks, and we have to learn how to deal with it.