Breaking Up Like an Adult

What is the politically correct time frame for moving on?

When I was in school, the intensity of a ‘relationship’ was just as strong it is now. The only difference, which of course you only see in hindsight, is that those relationships are not meant to last. Those are days of puppy love and holding hands, and chaste pecks on the cheek, and giggling and blushing uncontrollably. It was also the time when I got over the so-called pain of separation very rapidly. After all, it was not real love.

There was a boy in my year. A gorgeous, green-eyed (unusual for an Indian), fair-skinned (Indians love fair skin – racists) guy with light brown hair, and fairly tall too. I interacted with him very briefly when we were very young, and promptly forgot his existence once I grew older. Idiotically, he fell for me.

I found out about this crush/spate of puppy love through a common friend. She came up to me one day in class, and told me of his undying love. My rather unromantic response was: “Um. Thanks. Who is he?”

After I had run the gamut of terrible replies, I agreed to give him my number. My parents were very encouraging since they thought I had a serious dearth of male friends. He called me that night, and a heavily awkward, extremely stilted, shoot-me-now painful telephonic conversation ensued. We exchanged email addresses and ICQ IDs.

Over the course of exchanged emails and instant messages, I got to know him. But the awkwardness was ever present. He asked me out, and we went on a date. I remember being paralysed with nerves and panic. It was terrible. I sat like a mummified sphinx, replying in monosyllables to this Greek God before me, who was inexplicably interested in me. I wanted to sink into the floor.

The interactions became easier after that though. I was still painfully conscious and never able to let go completely. The ice broke a bit more when I had my first kiss; a wet, slobbery event, which left me grasping for tissues. We visited each others’ homes and made out a bit more.

Then, his father caught us one day, and forbade all further interaction. I must add that we were both 15, and obviously too young for this sort of thing. I was an idiot puppy, with fluff for brains.

I hadn’t been in love with him, and I knew that much at the time. I had previously convinced myself otherwise, because in my mind making out equalled a forever relationship. Um, no. (Refer to fluff for brains statement above.)

A few months later, I went to a party with my whole year. He was there. I was happy to be invited, so I was dancing with my friends and a couple of boys too. He, on the other hand, moped around like a moron, channelling the emos of today.

Numerous friends came up to me and berated me for being heartless. I was stunned! I wasn’t heartless; not by a long shot. I was a kid, and I had moved on rapidly from a non-serious teenage relationship. But I was clearly expected to be heartbroken and devastated. Well, I wasn’t, and it left me confused and miserable.

Fast forward 17 years, and I have recently broken up with the love of my life. I am experiencing devastation on the scale of losing a loved one to death. And yet, the expectation is to put on my adult face and go about my life as normal.

My colleagues and boss expect work from me. I am doing it. My friends expect me to be in touch and participate in their lives and life events. I participate. My parents need my support with their ongoing illnesses and other household bits and bobs. I support them.

How come this isn’t heartlessness? Life is so weird.

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