We know the story well. You start a relationship and it’s exciting at first: it’s new, it’s unfamiliar, and each day seems to hold a new discovery or a new inspiration. There’s a dynamic sense of interaction and give-and-take that inspires you to share more and more of yourself with this person. You learn more about yourself. You learn more about them with whom you are sharing this stuff. Your thinking sharpens and you spend much of the day musing about what you might tell them and when you might interact with them once more, wondering about how you might phrase something or to what detail to speak of a certain thought, feeling, or sentiment you had.
But then it happens. These interactions begin to feel a little more like a duty than a delight. You feel the weight of expectation and it begins to stifle the feelings you once had. Those days that go by without interaction feel more like reprieves than punishments. You feel the strings of your own heart beginning to unwind from the ball of yarn that is there’s.
At first you feel guilty, and may even start to force yourself to connect with this person, but in the end it feels disingenuous and artificial. You find yourself struck with that fleeting, terrifyingly rational-sounding thought: if I really cared about the long-term well-being of this person, is it more caring for me to stay with them when my feelings are gone, or let them go?
So you break it off. You don’t know the future, and you can’t give a tangible reason for the drop-off in interaction, and so you frame it as a “break”, wondering if you’ll someday connect again at the same level as before. So you move on a bit, though you keep some casual (though admittedly “token“) contact with them.
Along the way, your path crosses with someone else. The vibrancy you felt in that other relationship now feels so distant, and the dynamism you have with this new person seems to have such substance, such fullness, and–for the first time, it feels–perhaps some (dare I say it?) staying power.
And so you find yourself not talking at all to your ex anymore. It’s not that you meant to, even. It’s just that everything you wanted to share with them you enjoying sharing with this new person so much. You realize the give-and-take reciprocal interaction you thought you had previously was merely immature lip-service compared to the depth of “commentary” available in your interactions with this person.
Your previous connection with that previous person fades into the recesses of memory and experience that belong to fleeting obscurities and statements of oh yeah, I forgot about that!
It feels like another existence entirely.
Then one day, you run into an old friend and they talk of how they miss the way you were when you interacted with your old flame. You then find yourself thinking about this person again, but now with the Graces of Time and Distance having been granted to you. You think with a newfound clarity, charity, and fondness of your times with this person.
You hear that they miss you. They don’t necessarily want anything deep or intense again; they just want to be a part of your life and interact once more. No super long talks, mind you; just a random update here and there and maybe a few comments on current events, life, or ongoing musings on theology and politics. You know, the things that you shared with them so much before.
And so, even as you move forward with your newer relationship with all the fervor and intentionality appropriate for such affections, you begin to connect again with your ex. But this time, it’s a re-calibrated relationship, better suited to where you are at in this particular season of your life. It might change again in the future–we’ll see. But for now, this is the new norm. And it’s exciting.
All that to say: sorry for not writing much, Blogosphere. You’ve been like the ex-girlfriend I’ve stopped talking to because of my new relationship, and for that I apologize. Another has been stealing me from you. But I’m back now. Let’s get coffee.