Melissa Pimentel

Melissa Pimentel

When I was 21, I met a man who was handsome and smart and had forearms like tree trunks from a childhood spent rock climbing. We were completely wrong for each other. He was spontaneous, I was structured. He wanted to travel the world, I wanted to stay in London, the city I had just moved across an ocean to live in. He loved to camp, I loved my hair dryer. He thought conflict was a good thing. I thought it was the worst.

Of course, we got married.

We seem to conflate difficult with desirable, especially when we're young. My friends and I spent our twenties comparing relationships over long emails and bottles of wine, picking over the bones of recent blow-outs, sympathising with each other's heartaches, offering advice on how to work things out. Why is this so hard? we'd cry. Relationships take work, we'd remind each other. Love isn't supposed to be easy.

In reality, we were probably making things more difficult for ourselves than was strictly necessary. Good relationships do sometimes require work, it's true, but that work shouldn't be constant. There were times when it felt like our real jobs were keeping our relationships together, and the low-paid, low-on-the-totem-pole office jobs we went to five days a week were more like a reprieve from the work of being with the people we'd chosen to spend our lives with.

At 27, my husband and I split up. The hard work had become too hard to bear, and it was increasingly clear that no amount of elbow grease or active listening would stop us from making each other miserable. The simple truth was that we wanted different things in life. This wasn't clear when we met at 21, because at 21 no one is sure what they want in life and everything seems tantalisingly possible. By 27, I knew more about who I was. So did he. And we both knew that the people we'd become weren't meant for each other.

The drama I sought out in my twenties no longer cast the same spell over me. The idea of unpicking someone's brooding complexity didn't have the same appeal. I had better things to do, and so, it seems, did my friends. One by one, we found ourselves settling down with guys who we enthusiastically described as nice. The endless dissection of our relationships stopped. No news is good news, not a deficiency.

When I was 28, I met a man who was handsome and smart and had a mind so large and expansive that I no longer needed to consult Google if I had a question about the world - I could just ask him. He made me laugh. We was kind. And most of all, the rhythms of our lives chimed rather than clashed. We could talk for hours or we could be happily silent. Being with him was comfortable. Warm. Easy.

Of course, we got married.

Love doesn't have to be hard. Sometimes, if you're lucky, it's easy. And the older you get, the more you appreciate that sense of ease.