“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.”

– Kahlil Gibran

Am I naïve for thinking that this applies to me right now?

As I wrote a while ago, my boyfriend and I broke up. I knew I cared about him a huge amount, but never quite realised just how much until people asked how I was and I had to find a million and one different ways to reiterate ‘I’m fine’ and make it sound believable. I assume I did a good job of it because after a while people would nod and smile and say how pleased they were that I was taking it so well. I’d smile back and nod too, managing to keep up the façade long enough for them to genuinely believe that I really was as fine as I said I was.

On the outside I was openly fine about it all because we’d remained friends, and could laugh along with my friends about how bad the relationship had really been and I’d just been too infatuated to see that. The thing is, I really could see how the relationship had been, and it really hadn’t been all sunshine and roses because there were some really shitty bits. It just took that separation to realise that the shitty bits were me – my anxiety had morphed to became a lethal form of paranoia that, it turns out, was shared by my boyfriend.

We’ve had many a conversation since splitting up that has gone along the lines of ‘we’re so stupid, if only we’d said this stuff before’ and ended with ‘we can’t focus on the what ifs because we’ll drive ourselves mad’.

Anyway, having broken up and gone with the ‘I’m fine’ thing and the ‘it’s for the best anyway’ thing I realised, and properly acknowledged and accepted, that I really bloody love that boy. He’s ridiculous in all the right ways, adorable, funny, intelligent, an amazing artist, kind as anything and has possibly the most heartwarming smile on the planet. I know full well just how sappy that sounds, but in the absolutely cheesiest way possible… It’s true.

We’re friends now, strangely, because I honestly didn’t think we would be be. But lo and behold here we are, nearly two months later, probably closer even than we were before we got together. I love that.

We are also, agains strangely, acting almost as if we were back together. Effectively we are, in all but name. And that’s ok – it really is; I’m happy and so is he, and I think that’s the main thing. I never wanted a ‘friends with benefits’ situation, but in all honesty if that’s what works best for us then so be it; as long as I know he only does this stuff with me then that’s ok.

But we’re happy, actually happy, now. And that is amazing.

I’m not saying it’s some mutual romantic love and he ‘came back to me’ because of that, just that there must be something there, right? And whatever that something is, I hope it stays.

Shadow Boyfriend

‘Ah, wouldn’t a shadow boyfriend be amazing? I mean, a boyfriend made out of shadow who could hold hands and be there forever…’ – my friend, 2016

A shadow boyfriend, you say? So, essentially someone who’s there for you pretty much all the time and will hold your hand and be there, behind you, most every step of the way? Someone who is flexible and solid and dependable… Except when things get dark and they suddenly fade away. Right when you need them most.

I don’t quite fancy that now, do you? Really, though, that shadow boyfriend thing is how a boyfriend, or girlfriend, should be, minus the disappearing act at the end. Shouldn’t your, excuse me, ‘other half’ be there for you through thick and thin, dependable and reliable and there if you need them, and shouldn’t you be there in exactly the same way for them? I think so…

But then haven’t I just described a best friend? Aren’t they someone who ticks all those boxes, and more, and doesn’t ever leave unless you really push them to?

Doesn’t that, therefore, mean that your, again excuse me, ‘significant other’ be your best friend? Of course, I don’t mean for you to run up to your bestie of however long and ask them out, but shouldn’t you have that level of trust with them, that unwavering knowledge that they’re there? I think so.

It’s pretty awful, then, when you don’t have that. I suppose it can work for a while, a relationship built on something other than trust, but I think that depends on how you define ‘relationship’.

For me, my absolute best friend is ridiculous in all meanings of the word, but they’re also my confidente, ‘my rock’, and the person I know really will be there no matter what, because I will be for them too.

A boyfriend, or girlfriend, should be the same, shouldn’t they? All the things a best friend is, but slightly different.

Perhaps, then, your best friend is your soul mate and your boy/ girlfriend is the person you’re more than happy to spend your life with.

I know I’m only 17, but that’s how it seems to me at the moment, possibly because my whole relationship-thing is pretty rocky, even though I think I’m the only one that’s the case for; my best friend is that one who’s there, always, and my boyfriend is too but in a different way… I can’t talk to him about anything and everything, but I can to my bestie. I’m not sure if that means I’m doing something wrong here, because I’ve just written a post on how you should date your best friend, but for me that’s just the way it is. Weird.

Either way, I love them both a stupid amount, and whatever happens I will always be there for them both.

But I think the point of this post wasn’t to highlight the significance of significant others, but instead to say one thing: whatever you do, don’t get yourself a shadow boyfriend. It’s far better to go it alone than to go it with someone who leaves just when you truly need them.