Though we talk throughout the week, because of work and other commitments, we usually only get to see each other on the weekends. For the past month and a half, things came up in our schedules that kept us apart. The physical separation only accentuated the feeling that something was coming between us.
Though we both felt that something was wrong, I don't think either of us wanted to broach the subject, knowing where the conversation might lead. We finally talked about it a week or so ago, opening with the simple question of, "does this silence feel awkward?" We talked about what had been going on over the last few months, how things seemed to have changed, and what our future(s) looked like. No vases or insults were hurled at each other. It was mature and reasonable. And all too painful.
We agreed that there were certain issues, bits of our personalities and other differences that would continue to plague us. Neither of us felt it necessary to go through any sort of listing of grievances, willing to accept that they were there, and not feeling it necessary to point them out to each other. Strangely, without even going into detail about our issues, I have a better understanding of them than after seven years of marriage, and four months of counseling.
In a different time, we may have been able to work it out. But at this point, I need to change my life fairly dramatically, and it was not fair to the relationship, or either one of us individually, to continue it half-heartedly. We both deserve a partner that is fully committed, both to the relationship and a common future, and neither should settle for less.
I have tried to remain friends with the women I have previously dated, but it has never really worked out. Most of the time, I worked with my former girlfriends, so we were forced to deal with the break up on a daily basis. Kristy and I do not work together, but we are both in the same tight group of friends. A week after we broke up, we both attended a birthday party where most of the people had no idea we were no longer a couple. On the outside, everything seemed fine, but we were both in pain.
We actually spent the next day together as well, and it was a fraction better. We spent the afternoon in the sun, floating in the deep end of a pool, trying out casual conversation as if the last week, or last year and a half weren't sitting on our shoulders. Later on, we were able to talk a bit more deeply about last Sunday. Things that still made sense, but that didn't erase the feelings we have for each other.
Kristy and I began as friends, and we desperately want to remain good friends even though our relationship has ended. Before we started dating a year and a half ago, we worried about sacrificing our friendship for the chance at something more. When we took the plunge, we told ourselves that we simply wouldn't do anything to jeopardize what we already had. Now we are having to make that promise come true.
I think we have a good shot at it, but it will be painful for a while. The breakup was mature and mutual, but just because the head knows that something makes sense, the heart doesn't always understand. Or agree for that matter. The feelings remain, even if they are no longer appropriate.
Even though it didn't work out, I am so glad we tried. Already close as friends, it was a new and wonderful experience to become that much closer to her. To add love to friendship, rather than exchange it. Though we found out things about ourselves that were in conflict, I didn't learn anything that changed my opinion of what a wonderful person she is.
It is just going to be hard for a while. For both of us.