meaningless or meaningful

We all know the sting that penetrates when a romantic spark simmers out. We know how our pulse pauses when those words of an ending are spoken. Some of us cry on the cold side of the bed for the lover that is long gone, and others of us find heat under the body of someone new. Every single one of us can remember a time when our heart was ripped out by the person we thought was the “one” to be left with a tidal wave of tears.

We have all experienced heartbreak. But what do we do with what is left?

What do we do after their stuff is no longer cluttering the coffee table or when their clothes are removed from the back of our closet, but our minds still harbour thoughts of them tucked behind the day's to-do list. What do we do with the love that didn’t last?


Society says that we should forget about the lovers that we lost. That we should move on to the next one. That because the past lover isn’t present in the present moment they consequentially do not matter. That their absence means they do not have consequence on our heart or who we are today. But how many of us are able to do this? How many of us really let go? How many of us never look back and don’t hold on to some part of the person or relationship in some shape or form.

I have never been able to do just this. I keep things from my past relationships, books we read together, coffee cups sculpted from their hands, trinkets from time spent together and the pictures of the moments we were most deeply in love.

Society tells me that I shouldn’t keep these things. That holding on to the tangible aspects of past relationships so that I can remember their love is odd? But I think it’s odder to toss these things aside and pretend this potent portion of my life full of passion at the beginning and pain at the end did not exist.

You may be asking; why would you want to remember or honour a love that isn’t present anymore? A love that society would say was meaningless or “failed” because it didn’t last forever?  And my question for you is, was the relationship really meaningless? Did the relationship fail?

Our society says that the measure of a successful relationship is its length, not depth. But shouldn't the real measure of a romantic relationship be depth… not length?

Ask yourself how deep did you love your last lover? How intimately did you know despair when the love perished? Did you risk it all for them? Did love change you?

How would you know you loved if your love was not defined by wedding rings and eternal vows. Ask yourself do you know love outside of commitment?

There is a dominant narrative in Western culture, one that we all know, the one that tells us that if a relationship does not end in a proposal, ring, two and a half kids… then the relationship was a failure, meaningless… a waste of time… But are these “failed” romantic adventures a waste of time if they changed you? If your love was SO deep and SO full that it moved you into becoming a different person?

How is being changed forever by someone “meaningless”? Is meaning defined by forever commitment?

I would have answered yes years ago... When all I knew was the dominant narrative of loving for commitment; to find that “forever” ending... A concept that now seems silly and childish. Naive. And saying this doesn’t discredit that I am a hopeless romantic...

I know myself well enough to know that my heart bleeds romance. I have dashed to a different countries to dance in the street with a man I barely knew. I have written poems, letters, books, for past lovers and hide them around their home to be found months later (often when the relationship had ended)… I have moved across the world for the men I have loved, for the love we shared, for the prospect of finding that forever someone…

Love moves me because when I love… I love.

And even though I have done all of these things (and much more for the men I have shared time with)… There isn’t a piece of me that thinks any of it was meaningless. That any of the relationships were failures because they didn’t last forever (and this is said by someone with more than one marriage proposal). And I don’t believe that any one of these relationships were meaningless because they changed me. The time I shared with that person, those moments, beautiful in the beginning and brutal in the ending… changed me. And if I accept who I am in this present moment. If I truly love myself with the same tenacity and ferociousness, I loved every one of my past partners… then how could I say it was meaningless.

These men taught me things. They taught me about themselves, about being in intimate connection, about family, about trust, about transparency, about travelling, about reckless adventure, about dedication, about desire, about fighting and fucking… they taught me about the world. They taught me about me.

And that is why I won’t be tossing out the coffee mug a past partner made for me when I was accepted into medical school, I won’t be tossing out photos of a lover lost in London, and there will be no removal of moments of pure passion from my Instagram account.

Even though society would say that this is odd to hold on and that because none of my relationships has lasted longer than one of my passports that they were failures. I choose not to believe it. Because every one of those men, every moment had and will always have meaning. Because meaning for me is determined by depth... not length.

love aj (a girl with zero "successful relationships")