Saturday Night: Am I in love again? No, not me

All things considered, it was the perfect farewell. A mist of rain, gentle as a lover's kiss, caressed us as we embraced for the last time before she climbed into the minicab for the airport. No tears, though; it was an unspoken rule we had established at the beginning, nearly four weeks ago. Sadness is so much more eloquently conveyed with a smile, n'est-ce pas?

Not that there was any reason to cry, but the conditioned response to romantic involvement is so strong that few of us can surrender willingly when the time is at hand. Instead, we cling and grasp at love and, in so doing, kill it. We suffocate tenderness with the weight of our desires and expectations. We harness all that is dross in our lives - ambition, pride, anger, jealousy and cowardice - to our lightest, most ethereal emotions, and end up wondering why love is not enough to save us from ourselves.

But not this time. For once there was room to breathe, a sense of space and relaxation, a lightness of touch, physical and metaphorical.

Most lovers, imagining their passion to be infinite, toy carelessly with each other. Thinking their time together boundless, they play petty games that too often become spiteful, such is the familiarity that breeds contempt. Having less than a month together made us more appreciative, more attentive, less determined about what we wanted, more willing to accept what was on offer. There was no need to question what was clearly a novel and enlightening experience for both of us.

One might ask why such uncomplicated and effortless affairs are the exception, not the rule. Perhaps we need to introduce a metering system, or a season ticket for love. Imagine: you have four weeks to get the most you can from a relationship before your ticket expires. It can be renewed, but only after a two-month hiatus, and the decision to renew cannot be made unilaterally. Consensuality is the name of the game.

Working inside a fixed time limit would produce more realistic expectations, and fewer disappointments. Arguments? No time for them. Mind games? Can't be bothered. Whose fault? It doesn't matter, forget it, let's go back to having fun while we can. There would be no long, tortuous trudge towards a distant promise of blissful serenity: like Zen enlightenment, it would come instantly or not at all. If joy were not forthcoming, at least freedom would be visible on the horizon; even the most hellish neurotic would be tolerable. Now, who cannot think of at least one relationship that would be enhanced by such parameters?

The most chaotic factor in heterosexual relationships, of course, is procreation. Fear of pregnancy has the same effect on a relationship as a hand grenade has on a picnic. We kept our heads, though. Having disengaged and found that our little latex friend had gone missing, panic spread through us for the first time. She fished around and finally produced the errant rubber, dangling from her index finger, turned inside out and conspicuously empty.

'Morning-after pill,' we muttered to each other. She would have to stop off at the surgery on the way to the airport. 'Sperm can survive for up to five days in the vaginal canal,' she said. 'You might get me pregnant when I'm in South America.' We laughed at the conscious effort now required to ensure our separation, and about condoms being blasted off by industrial-strength semen. 'If it doesn't work, you can collect the baby in Machu Picchu,' she said. Then we went to sleep.

And so ended our wondrous, one-stop affair. We had dodged the most difficult moments with comparative ease, simply by recoiling from attachment. All temptation to plan for the future had been scrupulously avoided, with the result that we lived in a magical, spontaneous present. It doesn't matter whether or not we were 'in love' the way people in pop songs or Hollywood movies are meant to be. We found another way of doing things, and proved to ourselves that it is possible for two people to treat each other as precious, unique and sacred beings, without expecting some reward. You cannot treat love as an investment. You cannot barter with your affections. As they say in the Nike ads, just do it.

It was not easy, saying goodbye without tears. But it wasn't that difficult either, and the time spent together was no more strenuous than flying a kite. The formula is simple: just avoid thoughts centred around the terms 'I', 'me' and 'mine' - all of which are otherwise absent throughout this piece. There, isn't that a happy ending?

Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

    £16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

    Recruitment Genius: International Trade Advisors - Hertfordshire or Essex

    £30000 - £35379 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is based in Welwyn ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Controller - Response Centre

    £20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Resource and Recruitment Manager

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Resource and Recruitment Manage...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn