I read a beautifully written article on Buzzfeed (of all places) the other day. The title was called “Why I Ended A Perfectly Fine Relationship.” The writer is gay, but I think queerness is inconsequential in the discourse of the imbalance found in many “perfectly fine” relationships. To summarize the story, the writer was first introduced to Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse by his friend, whom he happens to be sleeping with. According to Barthes, a lover is defined as “the one who waits” in a relationship. He or she is the one that yearns, that misses, that loves. Then there is the other. The other in a relationship is not a lover. The other is merely the loved one, who doesn’t wait, doesn’t miss, and doesn’t reciprocate.
In the article, the author enters into a relationship with a man (a different one). The beginning of the relationship was a so-called honeymoon period. They spontaneously moved in together. The writer would see his boyfriend almost every day.There was love and being loved, for and from both sides.
But do all good things last? Not so in this case. The author’s boyfriend grew distant until finally, the writer recognizes himself in the lover position as described by Barthes. He alone has become the unrequited lover that agonizes and pines for the Other. While there is no explicit reason, this “perfectly fine” relationship has effectively deteriorated into a series of disengagement from the loved one, who is no longer a lover at work.
And so the author ends his relationship where it started – at the Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. “I can’t keep waiting for you,” he tells the loved one.
No longer a lover, he walks away.
I think many of us can recognize ourselves and our respective relationships one form or another in this story. For me personally, I identified with the boyfriend who “grew distant, for whatever reason.” Yes the villain of the story, if you will.
Our society orients around couplehood and there is a stigma against singles, especially for females. I have regrettably fallen into expectations at times that I need to be in a partnership. Yet, if I am truly honest with myself, I like to be alone above all else. And thus, I inevitably regret entering into a romantic entanglements almost the instant I’m in one. At the same time, I dislike confrontations. I should be candid to boyfriends about no longer caring for them but instead, I just try to disappear (literally) and hope the relationship fades to nothing. So yes…I am that person who grows distant for no reason. It’s cliche to say it’s not you it’s me but it’s true.
It’s not that I don’t like you. I just don’t like you + me more than I like myself — singular, alone.
Pic: Morning Sun, 1952 by Edward Hopper