I’m about to break up with someone. It happens twice a year, every year. Every May, and December I go from being in a relationship to single, even though I don’t want to be. That’s what happens when you decide to date someone from a different country.
The person I date is from Germany. I’m from the UK, but we both go to school in New York. We met here. We fell in love here. But when the semester starts creeping to an end I’m hit with excitement, and a sense of absolute loss. Finals are over, but so is my relationship. Again.
Christmas break isn’t hard. It works out to be a month apart. But the summer is terrible. Just over 3 months means 100 days. My relationship hangs in the air for over 140 days a year. I like to add the numbers up when I’m feeling sorry for myself. Sometimes I just wish I could steal the days back.
I go through stages of loss, just like anyone does when a relationship ends. The first few days ache. Its like a little cave inside that is suddenly, but very obviously, empty. Then I feel deserted and get angry at everyone and everything in the world. When I get to about a week things numb a bit and by the end of the second week I feel fine. Then I see a photo, or just feel a memory, and I don’t feel so fine anymore.
Feeling fine can be scary. When its new and raw missing someone is very easy. It’s the instinct of loss: all you want it to have them back. When you reach 2 weeks your mind has a wonderful gift of forgetting what life was like before. When a month hits you almost feel single. You begin to forget their face. Their laugh gets quieter. The things they do for you, you becomes used to doing for yourself. Suddenly everything is a month old and no matter how great Skype is the new moments you have over a laptop screen are flat. They don’t really count.
If you think too much about it the relationship becomes a long succession of moments spent apart. You see photos on Facebook of them living life without you. You like that they’re happy and you hate it at the same time. They talk German when they’re home, like they have their whole life. You wonder, for a moment, if you’re dating a translated version.
In a way I’m lucky. Twice a year I fall in love all over again. The best moment of my year is always in early August when I get them back. It’s a perfect little moment for holding inside you somewhere. It’s a moment to take out when you’re sitting on your own at night. When I wait in the airport for them to get off the plane the numbness that protects me 4 months of the year just falls off. I remember every single time we meet again like it’s the first time
The French have a word for it. They call it retrouvailles: the happiness of meeting again after a long time. Do you know what it feels like?
Couples who work out together are possibly the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. I have these points to prove it.
1) Identical desire to workout plus identical free time: There is no way your lives are that compatible, unless you have no friends except for each other. Also if you think going on a jog is a ‘cute date’ then it’s time to revisit traditional courting rituals. Going out for dinner is not that uncool.
2) 8 A.M. exercise on a Saturday morning: The weekends are called weekends for a reason. Saturday morning is the most perfect excuse, if one was ever needed, for a lie in. Why are you running when you could be having sex instead? Sex burns 150 calories an hour if you get into it.
3) Stretching each other on the street corner: Ok, it’s a good idea to stretch a bit after you warm up. But last time I checked women were able to do a quad stretch without their boyfriend massaging their butt while they do it.
4) Running at the same pace: Unless you both have identical heart rates one of you is not getting a good work out. And don’t say something like “our bodies are totally in tune with one another,” because you sound ridiculous. There is no need to run as if you are surgically attached at the hip. It is nauseating when you ‘accidently bump into each other’ as you run with the exact same stride length. It is equally infuriating when you take up the whole sidewalk, blocking runners who aren’t in a relationship in the process.
5) His and hers gear: While you’re already expressing your love by wasting your exercising time together, there is no need to invest your life savings in the latest identical male and female Adidas clothing line. That red top might suit your girlfriend, but you look like a wilting tomato.
6) Chatting: If this is your idea of a date I can maybe see why you’re trying to chat your girlfriend up. But if you’re chatting you aren’t working hard enough. You may as well just walk around like normal people.
7) Weight room: Spotting each other in the gym is a good safety precaution so your loved one doesn’t kill themselves with a dumb bell. But that doesn’t mean you have to hold hands while you coordinate your reps. There’s nothing wrong with going at your own pace when it comes to weight lifting.
8) Loss of man points: This is the sort of thing you used to rip your mates for when you were a single guy. Remember when you saw your pal Fred out on a ‘light jog’ with his girlfriend? He automatically lost 10 bro points. If you’re going to work out with someone it should be your pals, not the person you sleep with.
9) Sweating: Sex sweat is ok, but crotch-sweat on a run? Really? Your girlfriends grey leggings might be nice and tight but after a 30 minute run with you she looks like she’s had an accident. Why are you choosing to see your better half at her very worst? And imagine what you look like right now,
So what do you think? Are you a culprit, or Is working out together the start of the end of a relationship?