When Life Gets Small


Impermanence is something we all have to learn to deal with. Everything in our lives is always in flux and relationships are no exception, no matter how much we want them to be. When things change, we can feel like our really big, full lives become very small.

When we're in the early stages of a relationship, the New Relationship Energy (NRE) can be all encompassing. The new person is in our thoughts most of the time and we're focused on all the wonderful things about them. Each new discovery of all the things we have in common and how well we fit together leads to giddy peaks where everything feels like serendipity. Add regular fun, happy, sexy text messages into that mix (or skype/facetime/phone calls for monsters, I mean, people who are into that) and the endorphins are off the charts.

Over time, that giddiness settles into a stage of comfort. We're still excited by new things we discover about one another but it gets less intense. We're super happy to hear from them but there isn't the same surge of adrenalin each time their name shows up on our notifications. We may still talk our friends' ears off about how great they are but we get slightly less annoying about it.

Their presence in our lives becomes intertwined with everything that we do. When something cool happens to us, we can't wait to tell them. When something terrible happens, we run to them seeking sympathy and understanding. We do the reciprocal pieces for them and the more we learn about their lives and their partners and connections, the bigger our lives begin to feel. We feel part of a larger whole and it can fill us with a sense of comfort and belonging.

A piece of that feeling of belonging comes from regular communication, which can become a huge part of our lives without us noticing how much we rely on that connection. There are people who chat with a ton of their friends and family all the time; they have multiple text conversations going at any given moment. Others of us are less inclined to do a ton of chatting until someone pops into our lives that spurs us into uncharacteristic gregariousness. It's fun and exciting and different.

Since life is constantly evolving, romantic relationships often run their course. Over time we may discover that we may not have as many things in common as the hormonal NRE soup led us to believe. Or we may discover that despite all the things we love about one another, and though it hurts like a motherfucker we're simply not compatible due to lifestyle, needs, or availability. Or a bunch of shit may happen in someone's life and they no longer have the bandwidth to support the kind of relationship the other person needs.

When those relationships end, the world feels suddenly lonely and small. All the regular communication that had become part of our routines ends and it leaves a palpable hole in our daily lives. That hole is incredibly difficult to fill, especially if we didn't have things in that place before, but are now hyper-aware of the emptiness left in the wake of our loss.

It's no one's fault. It just is. But we're left looking around at a life that feels incomplete and it's up to us to figure out how to be complete again since we've lost not only our romantic partner, but all the pieces of their life that we used to feel connected to.

It can feel artificial to reach out to friends a bunch if we didn't normally do a lot of it but it's important to figure out how to rebuild that feeling of interconnectedness. We have to dig into the things that fulfill us, whether it's channeling our artistic talents, getting out in nature, diving into video games, or spending time with people we enjoy.

We have to live that new, small life until it begins to feel big again.


Kat (she/they) is a sex-positive, geeky, Canadian, pansexual, deviant, slutty, feminist pervert who came to ethical non-monogamy 21-years into her relationship with her husband. After a quick toe-dip to test the waters (and hours of obsessive reading and podcast consumption), they dove in and they almost can't imagine they ever lived any other way. Labels never give a totally clear picture, but they consider themselves non-monogamous and polyamorous, though they occasionally swing. She's also a podcaster - On The Wet Coast Podast - and audiobook narrator for Cooper S Beckett's novels A Life Less Monogamous and Approaching the Swingularity. onthewetcoast.com @WetcoastKat on Twitter. Their first book - Yelling In Pasties: The Wet Coast Confessions of an Anxious Slut - is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Inkterra, and Kobo.

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