Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – July 4, 2004
How You Know When A Relationship Is Over
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – July 4, 2004 – Relationships, whether professional, romantic, familial, casual or with friends usually have a lifespan that varies with the individuals involved. We’re sort of stuck with the family ones. It’s hard to distance oneself from a parent or sibling.
There is always a sense of longing, guilt, anger, loneliness or remorse when a family relationship has gone awry, and it’s usually wise, but not always possible, to try to mend these fences early in the game. Professional relationship may be long-standing or of a limited duration. The extended ones require the usual care and attention, and will undoubtedly go through the typical peaks and valleys encountered in most human interaction.
Think of your relationships with your doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, insurance broker, tradespeople or shopkeepers. There is an ebb and flow to these associations. At times these are pleasant encounters and at other times (be honest) you think these people are incompetent idiots.
Friends can drive us crackers or elevate us to heights that amaze and delight us. The worthwhile ones (the lifers) are worth their weight in gold, and should never be trifled with. It’s a friend who is around when your heart is broken, you’ve lost a job, are in need of a shoulder to cry on and have been deserted by all your fair-weather hangers on. A true friend loves you regardless of your social or marital status, weight, profession, bad hair, financial situation or home address. He or she enjoys your company just as you are, forgives your flaws, understands your annoying personal quirks, wants what is best for you, respects your opinions, is happy for your triumphs, holds your hand when you’re sick and doesn’t get mad when you call at three o’clock in the morning to ask if anyone will ever love you again. These people are in your court regardless of your circumstances, and are the cornerstones of a well-lived life. Value them, honour them, love and respect them always!
We have casual relationships with people all the time. Some of them are quite pleasant, others less so. We often never see these people again and aren’t particularly curious about their lives, nor they about ours. They may work in stores and businesses that we frequent, they deliver our mail, pump gas at our local station and serve us at restaurants. It’s nice to see them again but they don’t have any ongoing impact on our lives. Casual relationships are essential. They move the world forward on a daily basis.
Finally we come to our romantic relationships. We’ve almost all had them. Perhaps we married our childhood sweetheart, and if it was a wise choice, we may still be with that person. The initial romantic attraction matured into a soft, strong, safe and comfortable love that still shines today. Lucky for you if you’re one of those people. If not, you may be like me. I’ve had a number of relationships over the years. Some with nice men – others not so nice. I’m friends with some men from my past – others don’t figure at all in my life today, and rightly so. They moved on and so did I.
There are a series of events at the start of any romantic involvement. You meet. There is either a little spark or a big bang. Your adrenaline jumps up a notch. You like what you see. You wonder if he or she is otherwise involved. You find out they just happen to be available and thankfully, so are you – yippee! You speak, you flirt, you make plans to meet again. You have a first date. It goes well. A second encounter is just ahead. You like each other. Wow – you secretly plan a happy future, together – but you don’t tell him yet. Women do this all the time. You think the little annoying things he does are endearing.
He puts his arm around your shoulder at the “chick flick” you attend together. He may even have a tear at the corner of his eye that he quickly wipes away. He’s so sensitive that you’re enchanted. You ask about his golf game and really care about the answer. You think about taking up golf. You wonder if you might enjoy an evening of wrestling at the local arena. You watch a football or soccer game. You buy scuba gear even though you hate the water.
You are now well past the first kiss, fondle and week-end of candle lit passionate sex. This definitely has possibilities. You meet his family. His brother Larry seems great, his wife Sue is a card carrying numbskull but Larry seems happy. His parents welcome you like a daughter on first meeting and casually ask you how much money you make. Your partner shrugs his shoulder at their impertinence but is nonetheless interested in the answer. You feel a little uncomfortable but respond anyway. They all smile knowingly.
If you weren’t so in love you might take note of this. Things go well for the first few months. One day you realize you haven’t had lunch with your friends for awhile, so you make plans for Sunday brunch with your women pals. He pouts and looks hurts. You go anyway if you’re smart – cancel if you’re an idiot. It’s great to see your friends, but you feel a little uneasy being away from your man. You can’t wait to see him again. When you’re together everything is warm and fuzzy. The sex is great. Then one day you catch him going through your purse. It really bugs you, but he says he was just looking for a cough drop in your wallet. He apologizes profusely. You accept, uneasily.
It’s been going through your thoughts lately that perhaps this won’t be a long term relationship after all. You’ve stopped doodling your first name and his last. You realize one evening that you’re relieved, not remotely upset, that he forgot to call. A week-end away with a girlfriend produces not one iota of angst. You enjoy working late and mention to your boss that you happen to be available every evening during the week, until the end of the year. Extra week-end hours would also be possible. You begin to make excuses to avoid intimacy – that darn headache again!
You really know it’s over when you can’t stand the way he holds a knife, his fingers bother you, the hair on his arms is vexing, his habit of splashing water all over the bathroom mirror makes you feel lethal, his jokes are not funny, mention of his mother makes you shudder (thank heavens for birth control), the top of his head annoys you, you can’t remember why you thought he was sexy, when he leaves your home in the morning you hope he doesn’t come back at night, you let the answering machine pick up for two weeks.
His laugh is irritating. Why didn’t you notice before that his eyes are small and beady? His love handles are no longer appealing and that cute dimple in his chin seems like a crater. You see him across the room at a party and can’t believe he’s your date. You sit across from him at dinner and wonder if you’d go to jail for driving your fork through his hand. You wonder if a hair dryer in the shower would do the trick or if that would be too obvious.
You acknowledge grudgingly that he may be thinking some of the same thoughts about you. It’s okay to call it quits. Some relationships have a limited duration. With any luck you learn a little about yourself from the experience and can walk away while there is still some good will. No one ever said that the interactions between two people would always be easy.
Give your relationships a check -up every now and again and make repairs as required. See if you still pick your battles wisely, forgive easily, have an easy tolerance for opposing points of view, welcome compromise, want what’s best for your friends and partner, support their personal growth, laugh easily and love unconditionally.
Pay attention – you should never be wondering if a hit man is expensive!