A Flailing Engagement

I’m not sure where to start on the complexity of a situation as bizarre, and uprooting, as a failed engagement. There were ominous signs from day one, long before failure became a reality. Talking about married life — our married life — seemed taboo. She would smile awkwardly at the mention of our wedding. I felt uneasy too. We knew each other well enough to know neither of us were ‘in it’ anymore. That much was clear, painfully so. We trudged forward anyway despite knowing that one day we’d have to look each other in the eye and acknowledge what neither of us wanted to admit was true — we had grown apart.

We hadn’t grown apart in the traditional sense that’s seen in the movies. We weren’t cold or unwelcoming of each other’s presence or embraces. But, the true sense of love, of yearning, of becoming one was completely lacking. As we became worse lovers, less compatible future spouses, we grew into better roommates and closer friends. We still enjoyed each other’s company; we were comfortable.

Comfort in a relationship is a strange thing. It seems so vital that it’s impossible to imagine being “too comfortable” as a problem. But, it was comfort that killed my relationship. No one tells you that with comfort comes a sedentary, stagnant life — a life where habit and ritual overtake progress and adventure.

What’s harder to come to grips with is: No one is to blame. Even in the land of comfort, it takes two to tango. We used to challenge each other; we questioned each other’s thinking and values. One day, we stopped. We melded into perfectly content domestic dwellers, and at that moment a relationship no longer serves its purpose as your life’s greatest, continual challenge.

One afternoon, I moved out of our suburban condo into what is basically a bachelor pad in Chicago. Sitting in my new home, I still find myself wondering if we could ever be the couple we had hoped we’d be — one that challenges and engages. Is sitting on my couch — not our couch — my ideal situation? It’s not what I had once hoped for, but it’s where I’m at right now and it’s very real. It is uncomfortable. But, maybe that’s what I needed.

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