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As far as complicated relationships go, this ranked pretty close to that point where everyone sort of went, “What makes you think that this will even be a good idea at all?” But it could have. Perhaps it just wasn’t meant for me. In equal measure, it makes sense that it didn’t work. But don’t let my experience get in the way of your happiness.

Stage 1:

It was after one of those staff dinner things and everyone was splitting up into “East side” and “West side” and what not, so cabs could be shared home. I found myself stranded with her, both of us unlucky enough to be living in one of those places that’s just somewhere in between but still out of the way, and not really convenient for anyone else. I woke up the next morning and found her number in my phone. I don’t remember why I did it, but I texted her.

“Good morning.”
“Morning,” she replies, 8 seconds later.

Yes, I was counting. We’d also had a great conversation in the cab on the way home the night before. I’m not even sure if she was the first girl I’d noticed that first day at my new job.

2

(Credits)

Stage 2:

Everyone has started referring to us in the plural, but we still pretend that we’re not dating. It’s nice. We can’t help smiling to ourselves every time it happens. We spend too much time stealing looks at each other. We hold hands when we think no one’s looking. We’re becoming that cute couple everyone wants to be when they see just how well we work together.

3

(Credits)

Stage 3:

Work is work, right? I find myself looking at something she’s done, marvelling at the questionable quality of it all and taking it extremely personally. We’re teammates, and if it had been anyone else, I would have told him/her off without so much as batting an eyelid. But we’re dating. That makes it complicated. I close one eye and forget about it. I sleep surprisingly well that night. I’m turning into one of those guys.

Stage 4:

People have stopped asking us out as individuals. So if she can’t make it, I can’t make it, and vice versa. We do everything together. We’re seeing a lot of each other. A LOT. It’s great. But one day someone mentions “personal time”, and those two words ring with the timbre of a foreign language in my head. Another thing that’s bothering me, if I’m frank with myself: her work isn’t getting any better. At some points I’ve started asking myself what I even saw in her in the first place. The only thing that comes to mind? I was single and so was she. Was this all it had always been?

4

(Credits)

Stage 5:

She’s started spending more and more time with this other colleague of ours. I pretend not to notice; I manage this successfully because I neither care nor blame her for it. I’ve realised that I have to be professional about things, and so we had a big argument the other night about her work ethic. Neither of us really listened to each other. The atmosphere in the office is slowly turning toxic. People avoid us. The guy who sits next to me has started dropping me texts so that we can discuss work without her overhearing us.

Stage 6:

I find out that she’s been going for dinner with her new male friend/colleague. I’ve been too busy working and getting my act together to notice. I don’t ask her about it. At this point, I’ve lost so much respect for her because of how her work hasn’t been getting any better, and I don’t feel like I even want to try to make things work. I look at the facts: this new guy is cute, super nice, slightly clumsy and comes from a really good family. I’m also sure that he’s always had a crush on her.

Stage 7:

I apply for a position at a new firm. Word gets around and three of my colleagues decide to tag along. I’m not sure if this was a sign of pity or solidarity. Either way, I appreciate the gesture and buy them a few rounds of drinks. As for me and my then-girlfriend, we don’t even officially break up. We simply fade out of each other’s lives. Just the other day, a friend of mine tells me about how he started dating this lady who works in the same department. She sounds nice. I smile and say nothing.

***

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