In giving advice to my friends, I take a pretty firm approach, advising them to end relationships that seem destined for the dustbin. But then I second-guess myself. If Kim had taken that approach with me or if I had taken it with her, we wouldn't have made it out of the 1980s as a couple. Does that make my advice hyprocritical? Or is it merely a sign that I've changed a lot in the passage from 21 to 36?
When I think about what it means to start over, I'm overwhelmed with a sense of impossibility. It's hard enough staying coupled with someone you know backwards and forwards. The prospect of having to open oneself to the new in one's 30s or 40s is sublimely imposing. And yet, people still manage to fall in love, regardless of how densely they've fortified their psychic borders. I guess the right angle can always reveal the brittleness of our "public" façades. Still, it's hard for me to imagine the hardness breaking to pieces or, better yet, softening from the inside out.