“Ben had to get used to the idea. Logical. We are each other’s first serious love. Before we met, it was through such a dating site, I sometimes had throws with men, but these usually remained somewhat superficial and often lasted no more than a few months. It was different with Ben.
We knew in advance how we were in the game and so our contact was serious from the start. After two months Ben told me he wanted to continue together and he asked me if I wanted to too. It made me laugh a little, but it was also lovely. Ben was really the man I want to be with. Or is it because I still love him. His humor, his intelligence, the way he often sees how I’m feeling before I even know it. I like it all.”
“And yet I moved to The Hague two years ago and deliberately started living alone. Ben bought another flat in Rotterdam. I had needed space to myself for a long time. So at first I tried to find peace in the garden shed, but it was not enough. I still felt the responsibility to let Ben know when I wanted to come in or go to bed. And it wasn’t because of Ben, no, it was really inside me.
Then I went to England on my own for two weeks. I enjoyed that so much. Read as long as I want, don’t clean up or sleep long, play pictures all evening or turn on Netflix for five hours. In the little house in Brighton I came to myself so much that when I got home I proposed to buy a tiny house. Ben called me to order and although I thought it was an exaggeration at first, it turned out okay in the end. Because he kept asking. Why would I want second place? Was there something wrong with our relationship or was there something else going on?”
Longing for a place of your own
“Yes, we argued more and more. Not even over big things, but little annoyances that we both wanted to be right about. All the space he took up bothered me, right from the crackle when he ate a biscuit to the foot of my mattress. Not fair, no. Talking about it helped, but the longing for a place of my own remained. And the fighting, too.”
“Maybe we should go back to bed?” Ben suggested, not missing the relief I felt either. ‘That clears you,’ he laughed, and so it was. As ironic as it sounds, we did this together. I felt that I wanted to get out of the city and bought an apartment near the coast.
Ben was also eager to start over, so we sold our house to begin the next phase of our relationship. We went to see each other, make mood boards and in furniture stores. We didn’t even make agreements and rules, it just worked.’
“We’ve been living separately for about four years now. At first it took some getting used to, for both of us. But also nice. The desire grew again. We seek each other out again because we both need it, and not because we happen to is home the same evening, we sometimes call for an hour more and then talk about things other than the groceries that are still missing or the package that needs to be picked up.
Our contact again revolves around us, and sincere interest wins over practical posturing. I can really enjoy turning on a movie at five o’clock with a plate on my lap and at the same time feel that I miss Ben a little. It feels good to long again.”
Corona’s arrival required some adaptation. In the first lockdown, we deliberately chose to be each other’s quarantine buddy and lived together in his apartment for two months. it went well and was nice, but as soon as I could I went to my own place in The Hague. I feel better in my own place and Ben also likes the slats better than living together.
I am happy and also proud that we have such a strong bond and that we can talk so well together. Because of the openness and trust between us, there is still an us. Me, you and the three of us are equally important in our relationship, and I’m convinced that’s why we’re still together.”
The name Malika is a fictitious name. Her real name is known to the editors.
Wanted: Love Lessons
For the Love Lesson section on RTL Nieuws Lifestyle, we are looking for beautiful, vulnerable, funny, inspiring and honest love lessons. An insight, a moment of reflection. Preferably with your hand in your own bosom. Did you end up being the one with the fear of commitment? Should you never have emigrated for love, or did a blended family turn out to be an illusion? Journalist Hanneke Mijnster would like to ask you all about it. You can report anonymously. Mail to: email@example.com.