Through almost three decades of life, I’ve experienced a couple major heartbreaks, more than a few (hundred) heartaches, and probably two almost-dick-breaks — reverse cowgirl’s a motherfucker, y’all. Some hurt more than others, but what I’ve learned from navigating the turmoil of accidentally liking a photo of an ex’s new girlfriend from five years ago (FUCK), I can — with some amount of experience (and shame) say — it doesn’t get any easier with age.
A friend from college once said that he fell in love with multiple people a day. He fell in love with the girl getting dumplings at the farmers market, the girl who always raised her hand in Documentary Film, and the girl he fucked somewhat regularly but who “didn’t want to put a label on it” (#millennials). I scoffed and told him to stop being so fucking creepy. But then — after years of overanalyzing my own jagged relationship history — I started to focus more on the “inbetweeners” of my past. I thought back on all of the people I’ve crushed on, made out with on a whim, and smiled at from across the bar, but never officially dated. I’d imagine our cute coffee shop dates and lazy Sunday mornings spent laughing about stupid shit we saw on the Internet punctuated by boning, memes, and more boning.
Wait, I’m so fucking creepy. But in reality, these intense make-believe movie montages go down in a mere matter of seconds. See someone that I’m attracted to, irrationally fall in love with them, map out the course of our fake relationship, and then go about my day. Rinse and repeat. I’d been breaking up with dozens of people in my mind on the monthly. It’s worth noting my awareness in all of this because I knew how fucking silly it was — how silly it is. I wasn’t falling in love with heated late night conversations or perceived flaws molded by years of personal struggle or their own hilarious, fun, ugly, and failed attempts at connecting. I was falling in love with the possibility of intimacy and then scaring myself away from it — dozens on the monthly. Silly? Yes. Helping me to unpack my own weird shit? Probs.
The trickier of my mourned relationships exists a bit outside of those clear-cut fantasies. They’re the seven random hours you spend with a best friend’s roomie, vacation-hungover watching reruns of Chopped and laughing until your guts hurt. It’s recording DIY rap songs on your shitty keyboard with the boy that might have been, if only they acknowledged you in public the same way. It’s finding someone who’s great on paper and then realizing the sex is about as flat. These relationships may have seemed authentically accessible at one point or another (and def more ~based in reality~), but there’s no easy way to fantasize your way out of current attachments and cross-country locations, all while being saddled with a lifetime’s worth of personal fear and insecurity.
So now, I hold onto the important, sometimes small moments of intimacy that I give and receive in my current relationship. I hold onto the real-life cups of coffee made and left for me on the bedside table every morning. I hold onto birthday love notes about favorite road trips and future adventures. And sometimes, I literally hold onto my boyfriend’s stellar bubble butt because #duh. So have I wasted plenty of time mourning my million past relationships over the years? Probs. Have I also mourned countless versions of myself and come out the other side stronger and wiser after mercilessly unpacking my own weird shit? Most definitely.