Love, Heartbreak

You Know It's Over When You're More In Love With Memories Than Him

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its over

It was probably magical at first. There were probably flowers and dinners and too much wine. You probably went on midnight ice cream runs after you'd had mind-numbing orgasms and took spontaneous trips to Mexico or Morocco or Cincinnati. You probably met his parents, and it kind of went okay.

But then things mellowed out — and not it a good way. There was less laughter, and there was more fighting.

There was some resentment, too, but you could still brush it under the rug with a good ten minutes of intimacy and pretending you'd actually talked about it, when you know you didn't. Ending a relationship like this was just out of the question.

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And then it was just routine. Hanging out but staring at your own phones, posing for selfies with fake smiles in front of some beach or cabin where you were having more fun with your friends than each other. Ordering the exact same food from the exact same three restaurants whenever you bothered leaving the house together. Complaining about each other's moms.

But it was so good, you say. We were amazing. And you were. But now, you're not. Now, you're coming face to face with the signs your relationship is over.

Most relationships don't last forever. The number of people who marry their first high school sweetheart and live happily ever after is lower than the number of people who get struck by lightning, twice. Everybody has at least one relationship that doesn't work out. Most people need at least both hands to count up the failed romances.

Chances are, when you're staring down your significant other and feeling like you might explode because you're having the same stupid disagreement for what feels like the hundredth time in as many days, this is one of them.

It can be hard to tell. Relationships are supposed to be work, after all. They're supposed to take compromise and understanding and patience, and they're supposed to involve some amount of personal growth. But there shouldn't be more of that than of the good stuff.

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Sometimes the best signs your relationship is over and has reached its end is to think about how happy you have ever been with them. Was it today? Yesterday?

Or was it in the beginning, when things were new and romantic and special, when you didn't know so much of the baggage they carried around, and they didn't know about yours? When it was all excitement and optimism. When it was fun.

When you look at your partner and miss that other person — the person you fell for — as though they're not one and the same, that's when you know. That's when you know you're not in love with the person you're with; you're in love with the person you thought they were when you began.

You're in love with a memory of a person that might never have been real, but was real to you.

If you're going to be honest with yourself, you probably know they're in love with a version of you that you've outgrown and changed and discarded, because that's what people do, not only relationships. We take work. We grow. We compromise. But one thing we can't compromise is our happiness.

When you realize it's over, that the past is gone and your relationship is part of that, try not to be angry, or bitter, or sad. Try to remember we all grow, we all change, and you have to grow and change past these practice romances to find one that will grow and change with you, instead of one you outgrow.

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Lea Grover is a writer and speaker living on Chicago's south side. Her work has been featured in numerous anthologies and on sites, including Cosmopolitan, AlterNet, and Woman's Day.