Wednesday, 24 September 2014


In the fairly recent past, a few friends of mine broke up with their significant others. What surprised me was how quickly they moved on and found new partners. In these specific contexts, they were the dumpers and not the dumpees, which I guess explains things somewhat, but I've long been fairly surprised with how quickly people seem to move on: in one of my absolute favourite TV shows, Dinner Date, a lot (though not all) of the participants seem to have been single for 6 or 7 months or whatever. Every time I see that, I think to myself: what mad need do you people have for a relationship that you'd rather embarrass yourself with your terrible cooking on TV than just be single for a while?

But then, of course, I realise, being single by choice and staying single by choice is harder than it looks. (Plenty of people are single not by choice, obviously). When you meet someone you click with, who seems to have a mountain of things in common with you, who you can talk to at a thousand miles per hour and not feel embarrassed, and you get that slow but brilliant realisation that actually this might be someone you can spend a hell of a lot of time with and more, it's hard to give that up. Of course, plenty of 'spark' moments fizzle out, and you really need something else, like shared interests, to maintain reasons to be together. (Until the best thing ever happens, and you just need each other's company, and not even blather, to have fun together).

But I believe in the spark. Sometimes, even most of the time, you just know. And that's why you can't just choose the single life. At least, I've never been able to. And I can't condemn people who can't stay single for long. That's not really an explanation of Dinner Date or dating shows in general or dating apps, because those people clearly aren't single by choice. But to come full circle, it means that I believe that worrying about this stuff really doesn't make any sense. The odds are always in your favour. Most people have been around the block at least once. If by some madness it doesn't happen again, you have the memories at least. There are things you've seen and done before and you'll probably see them and do them again, and if not, meh.

Another thing that confuses me is how quickly you become immersed in a relationship. It's almost an accident: you go from being strangers with each other to being a 'we' in no time at all. It's always interesting to see how other people react to that: they start talking about 'you and X' like that's been a phrase they've used for years and years. And those people who thought of you as a single person have to radically adjust their interactions with you accordingly.

I think that's a good thing, but people sometimes forget it. The person you've made a fixture in your life is a tiny number of steps from being a stranger. And, as a matter of fact, they're actually a tiny number of steps away from becoming a stranger once more. Another thing that astonishes onlookers is how they move from thinking every minute of every day (when they think of you) 'that's X, he has a girlfriend' or 'I'm doing something with Y, I assume her boyfriend will be coming too' to just 'hi again'. And the cycle starts again: one moment you're in a relationship, the next you're single and the next you're in a relationship again. And then 'aww aren't you a cute couple?' can start up again. 

I don't really have a place to conclude, and at that point one can start rambling. I'm just trying to remind people that we should always remember the transience of our relationships. There's no point in carrying on just because you define yourself as being in a relationship. The only thing that really matters is that the spark stays alive. As long as you're having adventures together, stay together. But there's no point being sad if the adventures end. 

I know as much as anyone how much this stuff is completely involuntary, but the new discoveries that happen every time you get those surprising butterflies in your stomach are well worth waiting for, even as you struggle through the sleepless nights and the worrying on the way. This all might sound horrifically unromantic, but I can't see how clinging on to past glories counts either. There will always be those people who get away, but whether it was for an hour or a year or a decade, you were happy, and that sounds good to me.

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