ANDREW MILLER: Don’t let the negativity of a break-up overshadow the good times in the relationship

Andrew Miller
The Nightly
3 Min Read
ANDREW MILLER: Breaking up is hard. But negative experiences at the end of a relationship shouldn’t overshadow all the good that came from being together.
ANDREW MILLER: Breaking up is hard. But negative experiences at the end of a relationship shouldn’t overshadow all the good that came from being together. Credit: Supplied, Adobe Stock

I went to a warm-wood cafe with my twenty-something son last week and we talked about relationships. He has been doing some hard yards of late — we all get our turn at that, whether we stay or we go.

In the gap between hope and reality we often find tears and frustration. His reality was long distance — but distance can be an issue even if you share a bedroom.

I spend far more time rehearsing conversations than having them, so any chance to redress that imbalance is healthy. Failing to make time for the actual talk — to hear the thoughts outside our heads, and make better shapes of them — is a frequent and easy mistake. Ranting at the uncritical rear-vision mirror is easy.

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The relaxed cafe ticked all the middle-aged man requirements — well-ventilated with fresh air; low-density seating; good coffee, offsetting the ever-sullen gluten-free toast; friendly but low-key service, and a non-triggering soundtrack with a warm vibe.

Life’s details are rarely attended to with care and skill. If I go through all the trouble of finding and paying for a parking spot, the subsequent experience — whether coffee or a relationship — should be better than staying at home would’ve been.

I always prefer music chosen by someone more sophisticated than me — someone who understands why the artist is misunderstood — some Noga Erez, for example.

So, when something good comes to an end, block the socials, don’t rewrite history, and find new music to enjoy unsullied. Tell someone who will listen for a minute that you will be okay.
So, when something good comes to an end, block the socials, don’t rewrite history, and find new music to enjoy unsullied. Tell someone who will listen for a minute that you will be okay. Credit: Adobe Stock/LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS - stock.adobe.com

Misunderstanding is also a pillar of the human experience, so if we are going to talk about love, music properly infused with illogical emotion is essential.

Our fast hearts always get to the scene of an emotional accident before our slow heads. We use two-factor authentication for our email, but no one checks references on their lovers. We just roll up and roll the dice.

Listening first — a new skill I am trying to learn — always changes any preheated advice that I come in to offer. What I thought they needed is often wide of the mark, and the cold facts suggest that I have never had my own life brilliantly worked out — so on what authority do I stand to proffer solutions for anyone?

We share environs, sure, but we do not live in the same dimension.

My son and I did agree that the inevitable negative experiences at the end of a relationship should not be allowed to overshadow all the good that came from being together. Disappointment should never be given a free hand to rewrite history.

We are not permitted to wear any significant range of emotions on our sleeve, lest they disturb the peaceful detachment of the insensitive populace. Hiding pain makes it hurt more though.

Music however is socially acceptable and makes us feel that someone has been here before. Adele, Taylor Swift, and Damien Rice — “no hero in her skies” — for example.

Even country western will help us deal with loss — a spouse, dog, truck, or some combination — but we should avoid Our Song. The defining tunes of past relationships are often a punch without warning.

Our professional competence is partly judged by our ability to remain unemotional, and this can feed into unhealthy pretending - the brave face. We apparently need advertising campaigns to ask if our colleagues are “OK.” The ones dying to ask us, though, are rarely people we would want to talk to about the weather, let alone whether we are coping.

How do we explain that someone who we miss is still alive — just not for us?

Lost, but still out there somewhere - going to a cafe and listening to music. Perhaps — God forbid — with someone whose faults remain, as yet, undetected.

So, when something good comes to an end, block the socials, don’t rewrite history, and find new music to enjoy unsullied. Tell someone who will listen for a minute that you will be okay.

One day soon, you will be okay.

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