I was never going to be someone who was heartbroken.

I had walls, protections. Things that prevented anyone to get so involved in my life without absolute certainty that they were here to stay. The problem with being so sure about everything is that sometimes surety can blind you. I was positive me and my ex were going to spend forever together. So positive, in fact, that I never saw a red flag. I never questioned the moments that weren’t as great. I never saw a path that didn’t end in him, so I settled on things I shouldn’t have settled on, because I’d already decided that this was my relationship forever.

Let me tell you, it’s not a fun time to have the person you love, who you think is your forever, look at you and tell you he won’t be able to give you your happy ending.

But at the same time and in actuality, him letting me go was the most loving and incredible thing he could have done for me. He saw what I wanted and was big enough to admit he wasn’t going to be able to give it to me. Does that mean I should feel guilty for having high expectations in a relationship and asking for what I needed? Absolutely not. Does that mean he should feel guilty for not being able to provide in the specific way I was asking? Also, no. Does it simply mean we weren’t a good fit and will one day go on to make two other people very happy in our own unique ways? Yes.

Does this mean it didn’t hurt? Hell, no. It hurt like a bitch, and it still does.

Mutual is an interesting word. When you end a long term, serious relationship, the one thing everyone wants to know is “who dun it?” “What happened?” “Are you alright?”

“It was mutual. We both decided our lives were going in different directions. I wanted to move forward and he wasn’t ready, so we decided to move on.”

People don’t warn you about the elevator pitch you’re expected to come up with in this scenario. Because your acquaintances are going to ask you what happened, but not want any of the gory details. So you have to come up with a roughly two sentence explanation of why this relationship that was once full of complexity, intimacy, and promise suddenly crumbled. And of course you could go into the whole story, but the reality is, only your close friends will want to hear. And once everyone else hears “mutual” they tend to define that word as “painless and simple.” He wasn’t necessarily holding you back, so you aren’t lucky to be rid of him. He didn't cheat, so he’s not an asshole. He didn’t fall out of love with you, so you’re not heartbroken. Right? It was mutual, so you’re both fine with it… Right??

Not necessarily.

Mutual means “I still love you, but life got in the way.” Mutual means “I wish we were better together, but wishing won’t make it so.” Mutual still means “ouch.”

But at the same time, mutual can mean “even though this hurts, I know it’s for the best.” Mutual can mean “I appreciate you and the wonderful time you were in my life, even though you won’t be in it in the future.” Mutual can mean “thank you for teaching me how to love. I guess it was never meant to be you, but I’m grateful for our story and the chapter it now occupies in the book of my life.”

I’m grateful for mutual. I’m grateful for heartbreak (even if it was never supposed to happen to me…), because heartbreak reminded me that I loved really deeply and fully. And honestly, because I was never going to feel heartbreak, I was sometimes worried I would never feel love. But now I know it’s possible, and I take much solace in that.

Mutual doesn’t mean easy. But the old adage states, “just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.” And eventually we all find that partner who we love wholly and passionately, and for me, and all of you, I hope one day that love is exciting and wonderful and above all, mutual.


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