There is something undeniably comforting about cuddling into that little indent between the curve of the shoulder and neck of your significant other. Their smell is familiar, their body heat is cozy—maybe they are rubbing your back or holding you. Once you spend an extended amount of time with a person whom you are or were affectionate towards, something happens between the whispering of secrets late at night or the midday coffee runs or even those sexy late night rendezvous.

You become stuck in that comfortable rut that at first seems harmless, or even invisible. It’s a comfort level that is hard to find, hard to deny and even harder to replicate. Yet because this kind of connection oftentimes only comes around once in a blue moon, it can sometimes morph from a warm and fuzzy feeling into a big ugly monster that has entrapped you in an ivory tower as you fight to hold on to it as tight as possible.

There’s a reason that we eventually outgrow stuffed animals or blankies we couldn’t part with when we were kids. I never thought that as an adult I would find myself in a situation where I allowed another human being to become my security blanket. My outlook on relationships became a static and self-deprecating experience that affected not only my relationship with myself but also with my loved ones. The problem with confusing love and comfort is that everyone else can see what you’re doing, but you can’t—or maybe you can and you just can’t bring yourself to break out of it.

Love and comfort are often easily mistaken, as comfort becomes a substitute for the love that has slowly faded over time. The person, the feeling and the status associated with a relationship can define your life and your understanding of yourself. This can cause both people to hold on, both hands gripping into the flesh of this other person, even as everything in each of your lives pulls you in opposite directions. It feels safer to suffer than to face the unknown.

I still can’t come up with a reason for why I stayed in it other than the fact that the idea of us, to me, seemed like something worth putting up with because it had potential in the future. However, at some point we both grew out of the relationship and became people that the other could only tolerate. Love became something to call our relationship in the interim. Whether we were waiting to fall in love again or were just too lazy to break out of our comfortable dynamic, we should have ended things amicably before letting all of the time we spent together go to waste.

When I look back on it, what I loved most about it was that it was reliable and it didn’t really change—ironically, this is what I hated most about it too. It was dysfunctional as fuck but I could rely on the fact that every six weeks we would break down screaming at each other until we finally curled up and made up for another six weeks. It gave me a sense of control and order, traits that the rest of my life seemed to lack.

We are taught that our twenties are our selfish years. That we should think about our feelings, our needs and that we shouldn’t settle. However, we aren’t taught to be critical to about our own lives, to think about what is actually making us happy or unhappy. At the very least, we need to step out of this “selfish years” bubble and act not only in our interest but in the interest of a person we once loved. Putting yourself first is important, but eventually continuing to hurt someone you truly care about, despite the absence of love, becomes taxing. Comfort is not love and often times a forgotten love is not as comfortable as it feels in the moment.

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