This morning we said goodbye – instead of letting the relationship limp to the end we bravely agreed to quash the sexual side of things, settling instead on remaining friends. Yes, it may be difficult but possible, if we only met in future on neutral ground and didn’t share a bed, perhaps not seeing each other for a bit until some time had passed. We both set out the terms and smiled unflinchingly at each other. We were having breakfast together, he must’ve have been feeling quite all right as he managed two helpings of coco pops whilst I had green tea. We held each other’s hands for a little while, acknowledging the finality. By then we were both a lot more composed. When we woke in the morning things had been just a little different. I was already aware that the end was approaching over the last fortnight. Still, we’d had a really enjoyable date the day before – going on a foraging walk, taking a turn off the beaten path, crossing a brook a number of times before going home to prepare dinner together and playing some Scrabble where M was sorely beaten (a second time). We had both been exhausted when we went to bed. We awoke almost at the same time just before eight o’clock.
It began with tentative kisses but the doubt was at the back of my mind and like an itch that must be scratched or a hangnail asking to be picked I asked a question and the answer was a hint that this might be the beginning of the end. So, lying in bed companionably the goodbye kisses became more passionate and the surge of emotions caused tears to well up and I had to get out of bed to clear my head. It wasn’t totally unexpected but all the same I’d had that little cry. He was quite a sweet man but not suitable for the long haul I’d known. He said I’d had a near miss and we began the discussion which led inevitably to the end. It felt mature and considerate – we were two very nice people who didn’t want to hurt each other.
The sun was up and the sky a beautiful blue that morning and I felt the incongruity of this civilised break up. Please tell me a joke, I pleaded. When I’d blown my nose in the bathroom and composed myself I went back to bed and we held each other. I knew that letting M glimpse this vulnerability in me was going to excite feelings of tenderness in him. Still, my pride would not let me be pitied and I demanded a dignified break-up. We considered the opposite scenario – if he’d declared undying love I would’ve had the burden of gently letting him down, so however broken-hearted I might have felt, it came as a relief that this relationship had run its course.
The men I’ve picked over the last year have been commitment-phobes, either already in primary relationships themselves or never lived with anyone (like Max) or only been in very short, light liaisons. The cycle of beginnings and endings continue and I take comfort with each heartbreak that I was right to be wary because there are no fairytale endings in real life.