My boyfriend of nearly eight months broke up with me four days ago, telling me that he could never love me. He was the best thing I ever had and I'm left aching and broken, with so many questions that don't have answers. The breakup was preceded by my telling him three weeks ago that I was in love with him, to which he responded kindly and sweetly, but said he couldn't say the same... not yet. Over the next three weeks nothing changed within our relationship, we were still as happy as we were before, but I guess that's all the time he needed to realize something just wasn't there for him. Except I don't understand. How can eight months together in a relationship separated by a distance that required a great deal of effort on both of our parts, a relationship in which he sent me flowers for no reason, talked to me on the phone for hours a night, sent me messages just to tell me I was beautiful, romantically surprised me on Valentine's Day, ditched all his friends for me on his birthday, eagerly met my family last month... how does that not amount to love? What is that, if not love? And what is love, if not that?
I once dated a guy through the Fall and he told me years later that the season always makes him think of me because "you were my Autumn." Well, Nate was my Autumn. And my Winter. And my Spring. I thought he was going to be my Summer, too. There were things I was really looking forward to experiencing with him: camping trips, friend's weddings, the rest of our lives... you get my drift.
On Sunday night he held my hand and told me we couldn't keep spending time together as boyfriend and girlfriend because the "spark" (why do guys always use that word?) wasn't there for him and it wouldn't be fair to me, but he cares about me too much and enjoys my company too much to eliminate me from his life. He still wants to be friends. Of course he does. They always do. I told him he can't have it both ways, and that's the hardest part. I'll never see him again. To do so would just be too hard.
A breakup is like a death in that way. Someone you loved so much and thought would be around forever is all of a sudden just cut out of your life. The stages of grief are very similar to those experienced when mourning a death: 1. Denial; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. I think I'm currently in the midst of denial and hope I can skip over the middle three stages to the last one. Going about every day life is the hardest part right now. It's not possible for someone to remain in your life for the better part of a year (and believe me, it was the better part) and not have them impact pretty much every aspect of your life. I can't shower without thinking of him because he bought me my shower gel; putting on my coat brings him to mind because we were together when the middle button popped off; I put on my favorite necklace and remember the time I lost it while making out in the backseat of his car; I open my top drawer and see his favorite bra and the underwear he bought for me; I put on my shoes and am reminded that I bought them to wear with the dress I wore for his birthday; I can't go in my backyard without picturing him out there playing basketball with my nephew for hours; and my bed, which is usually a safe haven... well, that's where he broke up with me.
And after the death blow, he gave me a list of things he hoped would put a smile on my face: inside jokes, good times we shared together. It was incredibly sweet and he held me while I sobbed. He kept offering to leave if I wanted him to, so I'd tell him to go, but then he'd say, "I can't leave you like this" and hold me again. He had tears in his eyes when I finally pushed him out the door. The next day was the first day in four months that we didn't speak, and it hurt like hell. I ache. The first thing I did, when I hauled my ass off the couch and made myself stop crying, was to collect everything that reminded me of him and pack it into a box: ticket stubs, photographs, dried rose petals, cards and notes from him, lotion he got me... eight months of my life, neatly packed away into a shoebox. Unfortunately, things like my bed and my backyard require a slightly larger box, so I guess I'll have to overcome the sadness they bring me by reassociating happy memories with them.
I know that I will probably love again and someday I'll find someone else... but honestly, I'm not sure I can do better than Nate. We complemented each other perfectly; it was a really, really great fit and in eight months, we never had even one fight. Maybe that was the problem: not enough danger, not enough excitement. But I'm not about to begin analyzing where and when the relationship went wrong; to do so would drive me mad. So for now I'll let myself be coddled by my family and friends, eat whatever I want, listen to my breakup playlist and go to sleep hugging a box of tissues. That's what will get me through the moments every day when I reach for my phone to tell him something funny that just happened, forgetting he's completely out of my life.