It’s scary when we see our friends in long-term relationships splitting up.
We look up to them as the Lovers-Forever people. They are our rock, our hope. When they eventually call it quits on each other, that rock crumbles. It shakes us up, destroys our belief in love eternal. If they didn’t have it after all, even though they thought they did, then what chance do we have?
Most of the relationships I know fizzle out within weeks, sometimes months. It’s sad to see the relationship statuses go back to “Single”, but that’s a constant fact of life among people. The long-term relationships, though, the ones that go on for years, those are the ones we take as granted. Those two lovers, that love, that social unit, although we are not they who are in it, they are in our world. Their unity is woven into our social fabric. When they split, they rend the cloth. It’s our job, as their friends and support, to help them mend the rips and tears, but in the process we have to relearn the unsettling lesson that not everything in this world is permanent. In helping them pick up the pieces, we are left feeling socially awkward in how to approach the subject of “they” and “them”, with questions like “so, whose side do I take?”, “is it possible to stay friends with both of you?”, and “what about social functions where both of you happen to show up?”
I am not the same man I was 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago. I suspect a long-term partner would be the same way. To stick together that long requires a strange sort of tenacity, a dogged determination to make it work, a mutual need to keep at it (children, business, property). It also takes a blindness to the unsavory stuff and a bit of comfortable distance and space. But not everyone has those capabilities. Not everyone is consistent. Not everyone is persistent. I change. Everyone changes. Our relations change.
My sympathies go out to loves lost. I hope you find your peace.