From The Straits Times    |

Credit: 123rf

As Christmas and the New Year approached, it dawned on me that it was the first time in 10 years that I would be celebrating the festive season alone. While it sounds a little melodramatic, the truth is, I’ve gotten so used to doing everything with my ex-boyfriend, *David, that spending the holidays alone felt like a foreign (not to mention scary) experience.

David and I met in our teens while in secondary school. We were best friends before mutual attraction took our relationship to the next level. The first five years were blissful—being in a relationship with my best friend meant that I genuinely revelled in his company, resulting in the absence of awkward dates or experiences. It felt nice to know that there was always someone I could metaphorically come home to at the end of the day.

Having met at such a young age, there were plenty of firsts for David and I. From graduating tertiary school, to going on our first holiday overseas and watching each other grow up, David and I built a life that revolved heavily around each other. Because of this, I couldn’t imagine a life without David in it. Deep down, it felt like he was The One.

Credit: 123rf

By the seventh year, we started to discuss the possibility of marriage. We became excited at the prospect of adopting pets and having kids, often sharing photos of adorable kids we saw on Instagram. Our particular favourites were Stormi and True—the adorable baby girls belonging to Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian respectively.

I won’t sugarcoat it though, being in a long-term relationship wasn’t easy. Our arguments would last for days. We also experienced hardships stemming from his parents’ disapproval of my family’s religion—my family members are Muslims while his family is Catholic. Despite all the difficulties, I felt that at the end of the day, as long as I had David by my side, I was going to be fine.

That same thought got me through when David decided to take on an exchange in the US when he was in university, which made us a long-distance couple.

By that point, we had gone through so much together (including National Service and the dreaded BMT period!) and I was confident we were able to make it through.

However, as the saying goes, we cannot protect what we do not know and while I knew that a 15-hour time difference meant that David and I would have shorter conversations and had to spend special occasions apart, there was another factor I didn’t foresee: *Aggy.

David and Aggy met while working at a beauty e-commerce company in Singapore. Their friendship was aided by the fact that they shared common interests and saw each other daily. When he left for his exchange, they continued to keep in contact through texts, with Aggy sharing anecdotes about her day.

Credit: 123rf

She also gave him access to her private Instagram account, where she would rant about work and life, and post photos of herself with close friends. The truth is, while I did think it was weird that a girl would be sharing this much of herself with someone she’s only known for a few months, I never actually saw her as a threat to the relationship. After all, I trusted he knew when to draw the line if things ever got too much.

Except, he didn’t. And neither did she.

One Saturday night, after he had returned from his exchange, David called me to tell me that he had been emotionally cheating on me with Aggy, believing that he was falling for her. Upon hearing those words, I burst into tears. I couldn’t quite believe that it was happening to me but more importantly, I couldn’t believe this betrayal. I felt like such a fool for not predicting something like this would have happened.

I initiated the breakup that same night, telling David that he needed to think about his choices and who he wanted to be with. Afterwards, I went about the weekend in a total blur as I thought about how the past 10 years of my life had come to this. It felt like my life was turned upside down.

At the time of writing, it’s been about a year since that fateful day and well, it’s safe to say that I’m still not entirely over David. There are still days I feel disappointed at the outcome of our relationship but I’m aware that it’s important for us to move on.

Shortly after we broke up, Aggy attempted to pursue a relationship with David but it did not work out because he felt like he wasn’t ready to take the plunge with someone else. Meanwhile, I’m still scarred by our breakup and how our 10-year relationship had turned out this way. Reflecting on ourselves has also made me realise that for David to have “fallen” for someone the way he said he did, it must have meant that we were not as stable as I had thought we were.

Following the breakup, I attempted to keep myself busy, but there were always times when I would meet my girlfriends for a night out, and one too many glasses of wine would send me spiralling into a hot crying mess at the end of the night.

Credit: Credit: 123rf

Regardless of the length of the relationship, moving on is always difficult and I reckon that a part of me will always have a soft spot for David in my heart. Given that we’ve spent almost half of our lives together, the memories we shared will always live on in my head. I’m no longer upset with him as I was in the first few months following our breakup. We text on occasion to catch up and share things we find interesting from Instagram but it’s clear that any chance of a reconciliation happening has long sailed away.

In an attempt to get over our breakup, I tried going on dates with guys I met on dating apps but they proved futile. After being together with someone for so long, the thought of dating and getting to know someone new just seems daunting and difficult. I was so used to being with someone I was so comfortable with.

That being said, with each failed date, I get closer to thinking that perhaps I won’t actually find someone that would be willing to spend the rest of their life with me. Sometimes, I think about the possibility of soulmates and wonder if David was truly mine, and if we’d eventually find a way back together.

Upon reflection, I’ve come to realise that our relationship was a huge life lesson that needed to happen for me to learn more about myself, what I want and need from a relationship and essentially, for me to grow as a person as well.

Text: Mel Ayu*

*Names have been changed upon request to protect the identities of all parties involved.

This article was first published in Cleo.