Building valuable, healthy relationships are central to living a positive and productive life. Bumble has helped change the way we interact, breaking down old-fashioned power dynamics and encouraging women to make the first move. Over the next month, we’re celebrating love. We’ve partnered with Bumble to highlight interesting ways to start a conversation, how to find love in the digital age, how to cultivate intimacy as we emerge from isolation and more. Alongside our helpful and inspiring content, we’ll also share stories of ‘the one that got away’ — because sometimes it’s the love before that leads you to The One.
I’ve been wanting to reach out to you for a while. I don’t know why. Maybe the pandemic has shown me what’s really important. I’m not sure who I’m speaking to right now. It can’t be the real you now, since I don’t know that person, and it can’t be the person I once knew because I know she is gone. I guess it’s some idealised version in between. Whoever you are, I have wanted to tell you that I hope you are happy. I want to tell you that I don’t have any ill will toward you. I hope you’re okay, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. I know you will be. You always were a fighter.
I’ve once believed in the idea that conflict is an excellent opportunity for growth. Well darling, if that were true, we would have been giants. I still believe that. I just believe now that conflict also has the capacity to break you so completely that you might never recover and the only thing you can try to do in those moments is direct that suffering toward something positive. Someone once said that the pain doesn’t get better but that the days move on and, after a while, that begins to feel like the same thing. I know we both felt that.
“Conflict has the capacity to break you so completely that you might never recover.”
Our time together wasn’t long but it was transformative. I have a life on the other side of the world now, something I don’t think I would have had the courage to do if I hadn’t had you by my side. I quit my job. I’m a writer now. At least, I tell people that. It still feels like I’m acting. You guided me toward my dreams and you pushed me to do more, do better. I needed that. I will always be grateful to you for that.
But our time together wasn’t easy and we knew that for a long time. From that moment, in a borrowed apartment, crying on the kitchen floor, realising for the first time that we were not meant to be, I think we knew we were done. What kept us together, kept us going for the next five months, was a sense of duty, care, and, of course, a deep love and respect. I think we couldn’t bear to imagine an alternative until the alternative was inevitable.
“You guided me towards my dreams and you pushed me to do more.”
To tell you the truth, I wanted to fix you. I think I have a bit of a saviour complex. I saw your pain from the start and I wanted to help. I wanted to love you and I thought by doing so I could make you happy. I don’t think that now. I don’t think another person can make you whole. But then who goes through life whole? Almost always you love incomplete and hope it will work out. We did always say our demons clashed.
We were lost when we found each other and though we drifted through life’s current for a while, clinging to each other for support, we ended up even further from where we wanted to be. When it was all over, I felt such guilt at having let you down. Of offering to carry you when you needed it and then putting you down and telling you that you had to walk alone from here.
I don’t feel like that any more. I’m aware of my limitations now. I know who I am and what I can give. I know how to navigate this vast uncaring ocean at least a little better than before. I want to tell you that I’m doing fine. I’m happy again. I came off my meds and though every day is still a battle, I want to fight it.
I don’t regret any of it. But I also want to tell you that I’m sorry. I want to take back every hurtful word I ever said to you, every tear I saw you cry and all the ones I couldn’t be there to wipe away. We would bring out the worst in each other but we had a fucking great time doing it.
I re-read the letters we wrote when we said goodbye. Although they were written in vastly different circumstances, through all the sadness, something does stand out. We said we were proud of each other. We said we looked forward to seeing the incredible person we knew each other would become. I hope you still feel the same. I know I do.
With love and respect,