In a relationship, there comes an unavoidable time when you feel the need to compare your current situation with a past one: Does he behave like my ex? What is different in this relationship from my last one? Am I happier? And to be honest, unless you were a complete wreck while dating your ex or had some awful experience during that time, the answer is not black or white. Because there is no such thing as a flawless relationship or a couple with no problems, it makes one wonder whether a current relationship is better than the last one… or simply an exchange of boyfriends with no meaningful difference.
After a few months in my current relationship, it was unavoidable for me not to compare it with the one I with Mat. Looking back at the relationship I had with Mat, with all the ups and downs, I come to realize that, at times, he probably brought out the worst in me. When you are in love, especially when things don’t go well, there comes a point where you don’t even recognize yourself. There were times where if I could float out of my body and looked down on how I behaved with Mat, I would slap me in the face and probably shouted at me: “Wake up this is not you!”. But this never happened, and I got lost in all the emotional turbulence I had to go through with Mat. There were huge fights, the type of fights that wake up the whole neighbourhood at 4am. And then there was great sex… the type of sex that pretty much wakes the whole neighbourhood at 4am again. If I didn’t know better, I would have said that when Charles Dickens wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, he wrote it for us. When things were good, they were great. I would get lost in the moment and forget about everything else. It was like Mat used to have a way to swipe me off my feet and make me forget all my problems. It would be endless conversations until dawn, and he would make me laugh like no one had ever done before. It was probably the only guy that made me comfortable enough to be a hundred percent myself. Pretty cheesy right? It would sound like that to me as well if someone else said it… but it’s true.
But when things were bad with Mat, it was a disaster. I would lock myself in a room and stay there for days after a fight, or cry for a week. I would completely disregard everything that went on in my life at the moment and get lost in my thoughts everytime someone asked me to go out. I would call him, text him or leave angry voice mails. Then I would run to him first chance I got. Pretty sad right? But at least it’s honest. And then there were the things with Mat that never changed throughout the ups and downs: it was a game all along. Who would call and when. The endless questions of: “Should I text or wait?”, “Should I wait for a while to reply?”, “He said he would call me but never did”, “Should i leave a toothbrush at his place or am I invading his privacy?”, “Am I too needy? What does he think? Why does he never tell me?”. I would catch myself doing little things to get him to want me more, to think of me more, like spraying my perfume on his pillow when he’s not looking… And it worked; he would wake up the next day and send me a text about how my scent was on his bedsheets long after I was gone. But it was exhausting… it was a constant battle between wanting to keep him as close to me as possible and wanting to let go so that I could find myself again. Finally there came a point where I realized that I couldn’t afford anymore to struggle over whether he loved me enough or not, whether he was thinking of me or not, whether he was bored or not… If he was worth my while he would have been there, I shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells to keep him close to me.
Then there’s Serge. Things with him never were and never will be anything close to whatever I had with Mat. There are no crazy ups and downs… and things are never great nor horrible. Things are mostly good. There definitely are some downturns, but it’s mostly small fights that get forgotten after a while… no angry messages, no shouting, no crying. It’s probably the first time that I’ve had something so stable, in a very long time. But that’s the least of it. Given a twenty years age difference and the two different stages of our lives right now, getting into a relationship with him seemed a lot like signing a contract. I didn’t care much at the beginning, but the more I think about it now, the more it seems like it – a temporary thing, with an expiration date and a no-attachment tags that comes with it (at least according to him). With Mat, there was no such agreement, there was no expiration date and it was just living the moment, without thinking about the future. We both knew we didn’t have one, just like I do now with Serge, but with Mat there was no acknowledgement of it. As much as it bothers me at times, I have to acknowledge that things are much simpler most of the time. But even when that gets overwhelming, there is one thing that I am relieved about: all the dating rules and games have gone out the window and I stopped walking on eggshells just to get a guy to like me back. I don’t wonder if he will call me back or when I should text – I call whenever I feel like calling and so does he. He’ll always pick up, and he’ll always call whenever he says he will. If there’s something that’s been keeping me with Serge this whole time, it’s how honest this whole thing is. The minute I started wondering whether leaving a toothbrush or a cleanser at his place would freak him out, I realised there was nothing to worry about. The first few times I pretended that I forgot a couple of things and said I would pick them up next time, until I realized that it made no difference to him. Until finally, I stopped leaving things at his place just because I wanted to make him think of me more often or make him want me – now it’s just out of convenience. I don’t need to carry all of essentials around London anymore.
So there definitely are pros and cons in every relationship, but when it came to Mat and Serge, I couldn’t help but wonder: was I better off in a relationship where I was madly in love, with all the ups and downs and insecurities that came with it or is it preferable to be with someone and know exactly what’s going on with no games or rules? And ultimately, when it comes to relationships is all the emotional draining that comes with being madly in love with someone worth the effort or is honesty a much better place? I now realize that after having been through all the emotional turmoils with Mat, I am in no position to do that all over again, nor do I want to. It definitely is worth going through such a relationship if you never been through it, I would never change any of it given the chance. But right now, for me, an honest place is much better. It’s easy going and everything is clear. And maybe falling for Serge is nowhere near to what it was with Mat, but I wouldn’t change that either. I guess the answer to the questions would be: “it depends on what stage of your life you are at right now”. And when it comes to me, I know that I am in the type of relationship that I need and want to be at this stage of my life.
What do you think? Did you ever have any similar experiences? Did you manage to combine the two? Or is there always a choice? Comment and let me know.