When I first got accepted into The University of Manchester I distinctly remember crying, out of sheer excitement and relief. Fast- forward a few years and I remember crying at the thought of staying here to finish my degree, after a particularly hard break-up. I started dating someone when I came to Manchester and soon we were inseparable. I came to love Manchester through someone else’s love for it. After we inevitably broke up I was left with the city that I had loved through our relationship, one I hadn’t discovered alone. It did not feel like my city anymore. Had it ever really been mine?
I often think I should have sat down at a table and drawn up a relationship agreement. I would have written down what I wanted from that relationship and for myself. Like a business agreement, we would both attempt to compromise. But, soon we would agree that we are not what either of us really needed. I do not like football; in fact I detest it. He did not like reading; in fact he just did not read. Rather than to change and mould someone, I should have gone in with the mind-set that changing people is (apart from morally dubious) near impossible. If we came to the table short of what we wanted, we would have split ways before it all started.
Now I know this kind of agreement does not happen and I would be the first to roll my eyes at the idea of a relationship contract. But the premise of mutual compromise exists in friendships. So why do we not go into romantic relationships in the same way? Why do we seem to get so consumed by romantic relationships that we often fail to see the red flags?
Romantic relationships and friendships are not world’s apart. Both require respect, patience, time and ultimately love. Romantic relationships are like the dessert of a three course meal. They are great and definitely won’t go a miss. But when it comes to the main- friendships are basis of the whole meal. Because let’s be honest: living off just desserts is not sustainable, healthy nor particularly fun after you get past the initial indulgence. When romantic relationships crumble (if you’ll pardon the pun) and it feels like a part of you has too, your family, friends, music, and sometimes even your city will be there for you.
I intend to spend my time alone, not labelled as ‘single’ but in becoming the person I want to be with: driven, hard-working and excited for the future. After all, relationships will not heal you and being single certainly will not kill you. And maybe the very city that I came to love with someone else will help me to love myself.
It will start with listening to the bands I shared with them, the favourite lunch spots that became ours will become mine again, and along the way I will set out to discover new loves. All the time making sure to appreciate these adventures alone before sharing with another. So to Manchester, the city that taught me the intense love its locals have for football, music (mostly the Gallagher’s!) and day drinking, and most importantly for myself. Perhaps Manchester has taught me that my ‘wonderwall’ does not have to be a person at all. But the city itself, and everything it has to offer. Or likewise what I have to offer it.