In Regards to Falling Out of Love
Let me tell you a story. It’s a simple one: Person(s) A meets Person(s) B. Depending on the cookie-cutter plot being used, they:
A) Hit it off straight away, go through some contrived drama (usually involving a third/fourth/fifth party), and end up happily ever after all, within a surprisingly short amount of time.
B) Hate each other at first sight, go through some contrived drama (usually involving sharing a bed or some sort of bed-related adventure), and end up happily ever after, all within a suspiciously short amount of time.
C) Become friends first, Person(s) A/B discover that their feelings for Person(s) B/A have an added romantic nature, but never confess because Person(s) A/B does not share said romantic nature/don’t want to ruin their current relationship, and there is a bittersweet ending.
D) Become friends first, discover that their feelings for one another have an added romantic nature usually at different points in time, confess (after some contrived drama), and end up happily ever after.
At least the final option hits my not-so-guilty love of the Slow Burn™ trope in fiction. But in all honesty, it’s shocking how quickly things can change in such a small amount of time. Jane Austen said it best, “...it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” Granted, she was speaking about courtship and marriage in the Regency Era, not about how I clicked on a random TV show one day, and found myself screaming my adoration for Jane Villanueva within 24 hours, but the sentiment still counts.
What happens though, when that spark disappears from your life? When that burning desire that you had for that person, that crush, that hobby, that task, slowly dwindles away? What happens after that happily ever after achieved after so short a time? You might not notice it at first. I certainly didn’t.
Once upon another time, I found myself consumed by a feeling - that I dared to call love - for another person. It was a feeling that confused me, that tore at my heart every time we were together, a feeling that I spent months agonising over, and ultimately, a feeling that I kept to myself; a flame that was eventually suffocated to mere cinders as time went by. In another tale, I lived for the thrice-weekly martial arts practices where I would practice my form and patterns over and over again, until I could (and still can) do the steps in my sleep, where I bruised every part of my body learning to read my opponent, where I laughed and cried with triumph, disappointment, camaraderie, and second-hand pride. Now I glance passingly at the updates on the Facebook page, university readings and textbooks and research piled high around me, and the feelings of regret long gone. I scroll past the tags of former fandoms on Tumblr, and delete the AO3 email notifications of “...has posted Chapter…”, when earlier I would be reading a 75K completed Slow Burn™ from that fandom at 2am in the morning.
Falling out of love and falling out of passion happens due to a great deal of things. You come to terms with the fact that your “pesky little (romantic) feelings” will in all likelihood never be returned, so you let it go and make content. “Real life” comes barging in, and forces you to make a choice, and your promises to return when things get a little less busy slowly waste away as you become accustomed to the reality your life has become, until the love and passion that you held atrophies away. Sometimes, the flaws become all too glaring, until it hurts too much to love anymore, and you leave for your own sake and peace of mind. You discover something newer, shinier, and more interesting (admit it, we all do it!), and you set aside the old to gather dust in your memories. Perhaps you simply grow out of it, like little Jackie Paper and Puff the Magic Dragon.
It’s tough falling out of love for someone and/or something; to feel nothing at someone and/or something that once brought so much joy and happiness to your life. To wake up one morning and discover that the passion has fled, or rather, that it’s finally completed its slow moving out. To feel the pang of pain as you remember why you loved in the first place, and maybe just perhaps, the reasons why you stopped loving as well. Perhaps type the wrong key on a keyboard, and wonder for a second at the strangely familiar URL, before correcting your mistake without a second thought. Or you find yourself visiting the places which had stirred so many emotions within you less and less, until one day you simply stop going. Over time, the memories of that love fade away, as you focus on more current loves and disappointments, until it is as if the former had never existed. There is no right way to mourn a lost, dead, or dying love after all, nor a right way to deal with what comes after the after of happily ever after.
Of course, I couldn’t possibly end this on such a bittersweet ending (Option C, if you would)! That would be neglecting one of the most important facts: that love and passion can be reignited once more. Maybe, you discover that you’ll always have a quiet burning love for that crush even after you’ve made content; it may not be entirely romantic in nature, but love doesn’t have to be in order for it to matter. A new book, series, movie, or reboot is announced and all of a sudden the fandom that was long thought dead and buried comes back to life with a vengeance, and your excitement with it. You find yourself going through old exercises you thought you’d forgotten, and all the fond memories and knowledge come rushing back in an instant. Your brain links a new memory to the old, and before you know it, you see that old love everywhere you go, intertwined comfortably with your life. The new shiny thing of your interest bears no resemblance to the old, but it’s reawakened that same burning passion nonetheless; something fleeting, but brilliant as it burns.
To quote the EGOT winning Lin-Manuel Miranda (of course he won that Oscar for Moana, what are you talking about?), “Love doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints, it takes and it takes and it takes, and we keep on loving anyway.” Just as life and death are part of our world, so are love and passion in all of its forms, as they live die, and sometimes live again historically on the Fury Road.