It’s one of the oldest let downs in the book, the theory that somehow you’ve grown apart from your mate, like you’re plants in an atrium and suddenly you need sunlight while your partner only thrives in the shade. And yet it’s one of those cliches that’s more true than it isn’t, not like those cop-outs like “I need my space,” or “I just want to concentrate on me,” because more often than not those two comments mean they’re already seeing someone else. It really isn’t you. It’s them. But growing apart is a scientific principle, or if it isn’t it should be.
A friend of mine just broken up with her boyfriend of ten years. You heard me — ten years. And she told him during “the talk” that they had just said everything in those ten years that they needed to say to each other. To her she has exhausted every possible conversation topic with him and there’s nowhere else to go. She told me she just woke up one morning and realized that they had gotten stale, as an entity, and that staleness was affecting her adversely as an individual. It would have been easy for me to judge her but her boyfriend agreed without hesitation. They were done. No animosity but they were done. They had grown apart. No love lost.
Yet love was indeed lost. I know they felt it at the beginning. I know they were mad about each other and every outing with them was magic, and I felt it when it gradually began to change. It was like they were the polar ice caps and they had begun to thaw. There was still enough ice to distract others from what was happening, but I noticed the puddles. What happens to love when it becomes a comfortable blanket we hide behind for security instead of a free exchange of thoughts and emotions, always going forward, and learning from each other as well as from ourselves? It subtly shifts into being together while being apart, and it’s only a matter of time before it isn’t paramount anymore, the relationship dulls us instead of filling us out.
And it’s sad, as devastating as someone passing away because love is pain when broken, sheer pain that kills us from the inside out. The truth of growing apart is that we deny it for so long that it festers like a wound. We don’t talk about it until it’s too late to repair, which hurts even more. My friend woken up that one morning and died inside because the person sharing her bed, the person who she had spent the last 10 years with, might as well have just been an acquaintance. She had grown while he had stood still embracing their history instead of their future. Which in turn killed their future.
A relationship is a living organism that needs to be fed to survive. It exists in the small things as well as the large. It needs diversity, understanding, and solid honest conversation to sustain it. That means talking about the difficult things and speaking up when you feel a change, a shifting of the dynamic that makes you YOU and that makes both of you tick as a couple. It’s all well and good to write your deepest feeling down in a diary or in a blog but if you don’t talk to the other person in the relationship it’s useless. You’re still stretching your arms toward the sun while they’re basking in the shade, and it’s already too late.