Hayley Ford writes exclusively for Snafued
Try, try, and try again until you succeed. We’ve all heard the saying but when it comes to never-ending relationships is it that we give up trying, don’t try hard enough, or try too hard?
A shy girl at heart and heavily into competitive sport, I didn’t care too much for relationships throughout High School. It was all about having fun with my friends.
Sure, I’d had a few relationships, one of which carried into my first year of Uni but the six-hour distance caused acute paranoia (for him at least) and put way too much pressure on our relationship, so I decided to call it a day.
It took a while, but I soon started enjoying Uni a lot more than I’d imagined. The freedom allowed me to find my independence and start building my confidence again.
After a year of working in the city for a conference and publishing firm as part of my degree – where I met some of my best friends to this day – my confidence soared; I was happy. My friends (slightly older than I) had shown me what loving yourself could do.
“It takes time, hon, but one day you’ll love yourself for who you are, and won’t give a crap about all the little things that you waste so much time thinking about. We’ve all been there.”
How right they were.
Back at Uni, their support and infectious happiness had rubbed off on me. I attracted more guys during the first week than I had, in what felt like, a very long time. Why? Happiness equals confidence. Happiness plus confidence equals attraction.
A couple of months in, the partying had calmed down as I prepared to focus on my degree. I wasn’t looking for a relationship when I met Christopher on the dance floor at a fancy dress night. If I’m honest, in retrospect, I don’t think the initial attraction was ever there, but I grew to love him for who he was.
I didn’t hear of many girls being asked out on dates at Uni. This, and other small touches made me think I could have found that special someone.
Uni was a fun pathway for a relaxed relationship, with few cares in the world, apart from doing well in my degree. The final year was soon over and we eventually found ourselves in an apartment on the outskirts of the city, where we would commute to our first proper jobs.
Being in the real world was tough, and Christopher found it harder to adjust. He continually played computer games and failed to help out with stuff around the house – a symptom I like to refer to as the Ostrich Technique. Those close to me blamed it on the fact that he was an only child.
My friends and family could see how hard I was trying to make things work. They could also see that I was running out of steam, having to ask for things to be done all the time made me feel like I’d turned into a nagging housewife, and I was only 23. Imagine what it would be like in 20 years time! That wasn’t me.
I began to see Christopher’s shortcomings in clear daylight. When I returned home from a major hospital operation, my apartment was akin to a World War II bomb site. I was embarrassed. My mother had brought me home and her face said it all: if Christopher wasn’t going to help then it was up to me.
It took me what seemed like ages to call things off. We’d shared some great times together. My heart was saying maybe things will get better. My conscience kept saying, remember how he’s been making you feel, and how you don’t feel like yourself anymore?
Eventually, I did call it off. But it was tough.
I managed to find an apartment with a friend I’d met at work, and things started to look up. I’d decided the next few months were about me and finding the bubbly Hayley that everyone said they felt had disappeared whilst in my relationship. Meanwhile, Christopher had wanted to stay friends. I was unsure, but agreed to meet for a drink a few months later.
We had a fun night and more of the same followed over the next few months until we found ourselves dating again.
Things felt different. It seemed like we had a real spark, so I entered Part Two of my never-ending relationship in high spirits. A few months on and my flatmate was moving out, so we decided to move back in together. I was so happy, probably the happiest I’d been in our relationship, and really thought it was going to work this time.
We started to see our friends get married, and shared in lots of happy moments until one day I came home to find intimate message-exchanges on his Facebook profile.
He was logged in and his messages folder was staring me right in the face when I went to use the computer. I’d even asked if it were okay that I go on, while he was in the bedroom watching the football.
“Sure,” he yelled.
I didn’t know whether to scream or cry when I started to read the messages. How could he have done this after everything we had gone through?
The sense of betrayal was paralysing. I moved out for a few days and went to live with my sister. We didn’t speak, although he tried hundreds of times to get in touch with me.
Usually an introvert, I found myself speaking tirelessly to colleagues and friends looking for their help to explain why. Why, why, why?
How could I ever trust him again?
I’m not sure what happened but I found myself back in the never-ending relationship and into Part Three. Looking back, I should have called it off then. My trust had been broken and I was questioning everything. The attraction was dead, much like our intimacy. I had become distant, and stressed.
After a trip overseas – some spent with close family – I’d decided enough was enough.
My sister helped me to see that I wasn’t happy, my self-confidence had been shattered into a thousand pieces. I found myself frequently in tears. I had gained weight. It took a while (again) but on New Year’s Day, I broke it off. That was it, it was time to start afresh.
“Look, we need a month to sort out our stuff. So, let’s give it one more try, for us. Please, do it for me,” Christopher pleaded.
I had eight long years of trying. This relationship was over.
To this day, I still don’t think Christopher’s friends know the true reasons for us breaking up. Nevertheless, the journey taught me many things about myself, and relationships – particularly, what it meant to be in a partnership.
Listen to your gut instinct. Think about how your relationship makes you feel, inside and out. Resilience is an admirable quality but deep down: are you truly happy, or are you trying to be happy? A relationship needs love, lust and support from both sides but above all, it needs to feel natural.
If it’s meant to be you won’t need to try, try, and try again.
It’ll all come naturally.