Do relationships have a best before date?


I'm very cynical about supermarkets - the bright lights that blind us from the ridiculous profit margins and the manipulative displays that lead us to a trolley full of three for twos; that's why I am totally cavalier about sell by dates. You may want me to buy it by the fifth Mr Sainsbury but that will not dictate when I eat it. I'd rather trust my eyes, my nose and my taste buds. Aside from an unfortunate incident with a sausage sandwich circa 1999, this methodology has seen me well and saved me many pennies; also each time I flout the rules I enjoy the sense of rebellion. Here's the thing, best before dates are more of an art than a science - one woman's spoiled meat is another's slow roasted stew and the same is true for relationships. Recognising the end of a relationship is as much about the individual as the state of the relationship. I love Gretchen Rubin and her wonderful categorisation system of personality types. She suggests that an upholder accepts rules and is the sort of person who keeps New Years resolutions; a questioner questions rules and accepts them only if they make sense; a rebel flouts rules and resists control and an obliger accepts outside rules. How can an individual personality type effect a relationship? Simply put, have you ever tried to complete a Rubix Cube? Did you toil away until you had that sucker completed or did you chuck it in a corner the minute things got difficult? Neither option is correct, the right choice is the one that brings you the most peace. 

There are a few key times when you must end a relationship - if experiencing abuse or neglect or repeated betrayals but outside of those situations when is the right time to call time? A quick survey of my mates didn't make things any clearer. 

'When things feel bad more often than they feel good.'

'When I'm no longer learning about myself or the other person.' 

'When I start noticing other people in a sexual way.' 

'I have no idea. I always let the other person end it.' 

That being said none of the people questioned regretted the time they spent with previous partners, there was always something to learn about themselves and about the world, things that made their next relationship far better. In short, aside from those rare unperishable unions, most relationships have a best before date because we change and our needs change and that's a lot to put on one person for a life time. If you're asking yourself this question your relationship best before date may be fast approaching and if the contents of that relationship are putrid and slimy, if you wouldn't serve it to a friend or loved one, please throw it away but if it's just a bit tired or wilted, add some spice, make a stir fry and enjoy what you have while you can.

Bucket list - a storage space for dreams


In my early twenties I moved from Birmingham where I had been studying and working for six years back to my home time of London. I missed my family and friends and the comforting constant of noise pollution but in order to gain those things I had to be willing to give something up - space and lots of it. I had collected quite a lot in my first years adulting and in those pre Kondo days I felt anxious about letting them go. Luckily my cosy new flat was a stones throw from a Big Yellow Storage and I nabbed one of those metal boxes as my oversized wardrobe space for the next five years. Aside from the monthly direct debit I pretty much forgot about my trove until another five years passed and I it came time to move again. When I finally returned to my storage box I looked upon the mish mash of Ikea furniture and old CD's and saw it for what it was - crap. Almost everything went directly from storage to the tip. I didn't want any of it; I certainly didn't need it and I didn't think about that box until a couple of weeks ago. 

I was talking to a friend and the subject of bucket lists came up. She told me that at the very top of hers was a sky dive. I'm not sure why one would make skirting with death a goal but each to their own. I asked her why she hadn't yet done it. She pointed to the cost. I eyed up her designer handbag and suggested she put a bit aside for a few months. She uhmmed and ahhed and mumbled that she would rather raise money for charity. I wasn't convinced. Maybe she wants to skydive, maybe she simply likes the idea of being an adventurous person, whatever the case placing it on her bucket list means she doesn't have to work out the answer - it's a storage space for her dreams. 

And that's OK, if you want to forget about the them. If you're a parent you might be reading this thinking, it's all good because I don't have time for dreams. But the problem with storage is you pay a price. It might not feel like a lot but each month there is a direct debit from your sense of self. When you design a bucket list, you're sort of saying that the items on it will complete you and for the time they remain there collecting dust, you tell yourself you are incomplete. It's a new year and time I usually think about making grand plans and reaching new highs but my this time I'm going to do things differently. I'll pick one goal and start working towards it, maybe I'll succeed; maybe I'll decide I don't really need it but then it will be gone and I'll be off to the next, like a bucket list without being reminded of my mortality and adding more admin to my life. These days, I don't have the headspace.