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  • After considerable agony, we've left a relationship. We're on our own nowand, when we can

  • bear to be honest, it's a little harder than we expected. We aren't going on many

  • dates; the central heating broke down last week; the shopping is proving a hurdle.

  • In idle moments, we find ourselves daydreaming, returning fondly to certain occasions in the

  • concluded relationship. There was that wintry weekend by the sea: they looked adorable walking

  • on the beach in their thick scarf. We fed the seagulls and drank cheap white wine from

  • paper cups on the seafront and felt connected and happy.

  • We're newly conscious of the charm of so many things that seemed ordinary at

  • the timecoming out of the supermarket, putting everything away in the fridge and

  • the cupboards; making soup and toasted cheese and watching television on the sofa.

  • With these thoughts in our minds, we feel weepy and tenderand at points distinctly

  • tempted to call the ex up again. They would, we suspect, allow us back, or at least give

  • us a hearing. What can we make of our feelings? It might

  • be that we have realised a genuine mistake. But it's even more likely that we are in

  • the grip of a characteristic mental habit of the newly single, facing the vertigo of

  • independence: nostalgia. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Britain

  • underwent industrial and scientific revolutions that transformed old settled ways of life,

  • ripping apart communities, throwing people together in large and anonymous citiesand

  • dislocating the loyalties and certainties once offered by religion. In a search for

  • ways to soften the confusion, artists and thinkers began to imagine what a better world

  • might look likeand in certain circles, the search turned towards the past and more

  • specifically, to the perceived wisdom, coherence and contentment of the Middle Ages. While

  • railway lines were being laid down across the land, and telegraph cables under the seas,

  • members of the artistic class celebrated the simple, innocent communities that they proposed

  • had existed in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Art works depicted handsome uneducated

  • but happy labourers, cheerful villagers celebrating harvests and kindly lords and ladies ministering

  • to the deserving poor. There seemed to be no violence, alienation, fear or cruelty.

  • No one minded not having much heating or subsisting on a meagre diet of oats and the odd piece

  • of lard. It had, it was alleged, been very much easier back then, in the thatched cottages

  • and pious stone churches.

  • When it was all so much betterFrank Dicksee, La Belle Dame sans Merci, 1901

  • At the heart of the nostalgic attitude is a disregard for why things ever changedand

  • might have needed to do so. For the nostalgic, the past never required alteration or development;

  • history moved on for no sane reason. The complexities of the present moment are in this sense deemed

  • wholly accidental. They are not the tricky byproducts of a legitimate search for growth

  • and progress away from what must have been at some level, despite the odd delightful

  • occasion (perhaps at harvest time or on a midsummer morning), an intolerable previous

  • arrangement. The nostalgic can't accept that the present, whatever its faults, came

  • about because of inescapable difficulties with the past. They insist that we had already

  • once been perfectly happy, then mysteriously changed everything for the worse because we

  • forgot we had been so. Relationships can find us reasoning no less

  • selectively. Here too it can feel as if we must once have been content and then grew

  • ungrateful through error and inattention. Yet in locating profound satisfaction in the

  • past, we are crediting our earlier selves with too little acumen. The truth about what

  • a relationship is like is best ascertained not when we are feeling low six months or

  • a few years after its conclusion, but from what we must have known when we were in its

  • midst; when we were most familiar with all the facts upon which we made our slow and

  • deliberate decision to leave. The specific grounds for our dissatisfactions

  • tend to evaporate. We edit out the rows, the botched trips, the sexual frustrations, the

  • stubborn standoffsThe mind is a squeamish organ. It doesn't like to entertain bad

  • news unless there is a highly present danger to be attended to. But knowing our amnesiac

  • tendencies, we can be certain that profound unpleasantness must have existed, for there

  • would otherwise have been no explanation for our decision to rip our situation apart. We

  • would never have needed to act if things had ever remotely been as gratifying as we are

  • now nostalgically assuming they were. The portrait we are painting of the relationship

  • is emerging not from knowledge, but from loneliness and apprehension.

  • Furthermore, our sense of ourselves as people who could be satisfied with what was on offer

  • is as untrue to our own nature as is the fantasy of a modern urban dweller who dreams they

  • might find enduring happiness in a medieval wooden hut. The solution to the problem of

  • satisfying our needs is not to hallucinate that they don't exist. It is to square up

  • to them and use every ingenuity we're capable of to devise workable solutions for them.

  • We should trust not what we feel now, in our weepy disconsolate state, but what we must

  • have known then. A simple rule of thumb emerges: we must invariably trust the decisions we

  • took when we had the maximal information to hand upon which we made themnot when

  • we have emotional incentives to change our minds and mould ourselves into a caricature

  • of an easily-gratified creature. There were persuasive reasons, even ifin our sadness

  • we now can't remember a single one. Returning to the past wouldn't make us content,

  • it would merelyat great cost to all involvedremind us of why change was in the end

  • so necessary. We need to accept that good things did exist,

  • but that they were no proper solution to certain of our well-founded emergent needs. It means

  • accepting that we are as complicated and as difficult to satisfy as we areand that

  • the way forward is to accept our characters rather than assume a simplicity we could never

  • live up to. We should have the courage of, and be ready to pay the full price for, our

  • true complex natures.

  • Love is a skill that we can learn. Our relationships book calmly guides us with calm and charm through the key issues of relationships

  • to ensure that success in love need not be a matter of good luck. For more click the link now.

After considerable agony, we've left a relationship. We're on our own nowand, when we can

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