She still wasn’t exactly sure why, and that bothered her. But it had bothered her more that she hadn’t been able to say why not.
They had been together almost a year, and it was just about time to start thinking about their anniversary—not talking yet, but thinking—and she started having strange thoughts like if we can make it through the next six weeks, which gave way to even more worrisome musings about how it’d be really sad to break up on their anniversary, or right after their anniversary…
At which point she caught up with her brain and asked why they were breaking up, exactly.
And her brain told her there was no reason to stay together.
She protested; besides the usual one, there was the shared work, the food he sometimes made for her, having someone to come home to at the end of the day instead of a cold empty room…
Her train of thought slowly came to a halt as she realized that those were excuses more than reasons…and that they applied to anyone, not just to him. Anyone who cooked.
I stay with him because I like the way he talks, the way he moves, the way he is the way he is, she tried to think, but her traitorous brain seized on the word stay and made it echo with all the worst connotations, that stay is just what happens before you eventually go.
Troubled, she pushed the thoughts out of her mind—not that they really left—and stumbled through her homework, then tried to sleep.
When she saw him the next day she tried to smile, but it came out wrong, all the thoughts from the previous day coming back like mosquitos, draining all the color out of their world.
(He asked what was wrong, of course, but this wasn’t something she wanted to put into words just yet—this wasn’t something she could put into words yet. She told him to ask her again later, which had sounded pretty innocuous.)
And then it was the next day, and the next—
(He never got around to asking, so maybe she had been able to push the subversive whispers to the back of her mind.)
—and somehow she knew, knew that their anniversary was going to come up in conversation, any day now.
You know, if you’re thinking about ways out of this relationship, you’re not putting yourself into it, her brain suggested. He deserves better than that.
Hey, yeah…so by breaking up, I’d be doing a good thing for him. …Wait a minute. Love isn’t logical, it’s something more than that. What’s with all this rationalization?
If you loved him, would you be looking for logical reasons to break up?
She considered that.
Well, if I’m going to break up with him soon, there’s no reason to stay together now.
That took another moment to process. That’s…more than I bargained for.
Can you think of a reason why not? she thought, before remembering she was having a conversation with herself.
In the end, she couldn’t stop herself from saying “We have to talk”—it was like some rule of rocky relationships that you had to follow at least some of the clichés.
He hadn’t taken it well—no, scratch that, he had actually taken it very well, no shouting, no crying, and how could you take a break-up well anyway? She tried to explain that he should have someone who had more to give, but it came out sounding like she wasn’t ready for a serious relationship right now…
She had expected to miss him, and that was the worst part—she didn’t miss him. Well, she did miss him, but not really—not that deep heartsickness that pop singers wrote love songs about. Which meant it had been the right thing to do, right?
She still couldn’t trust herself to look at him at work—she felt too guilty.
And then it was the weekend, and she hadn’t figured on her lunch date…she was single now, did that mean it actually was a date…?
Well, actually, it had been fairly normal, and when it came out that she had just broken up, he gave a sympathetic wince and said something like “that sucks”, and left it at that.
He was just a friend, not even a close friend.
That was all.
Because if it wasn’t, then she had just broken up with her boyfriend because of another man, regardless of all the rationalization. And she didn’t want to be that type of person.