Expiry Date

Like a carton of milk, every relationship has an expiry date. Some lucky people might have an expiry date far in their future, when they die. Maybe it’ll be sooner, when things in the relationship start to go wrong. Either way, the expiry date is unknown, not marked in the relationship’s packaging.

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to a relationship’s expiry date. But some relationships come with an expiry date stamped across their carton, in a black ink that’s difficult to ignore.

At first it doesn’t bother you. The expiry date is so far in the future, you don’t even think the relationship will make it that far, just like you’re sure you’ll have finished the milk carton way before it expires. You don’t worry yourself with a date so far in the future when you don’t know what the near future holds.

But the milk doesn’t get used up as quickly as you’d expect it to, and one day you find yourself hoping that it’ll get used in a few more coffees a little quicker. You hope that your relationship will burn out a little sooner.

Of course, it doesn’t. You get a little deeper into the relationship and begin to delude yourself that maybe you can ignore the expiry date, work past it. Maybe things can work out if you both try hard enough. Then you tell yourself it doesn’t matter yet anyway, you’ve still got plenty of time.

The milk sits in your fridge and you don’t know when you’ll have a chance to get some more, so you tell yourself that it’ll be fine for a little while longer.

More than half the time the you have until the expiry date passes and the sourness begins to creep into the milk. And with everyday that passes, every day you have less time until it expires.

You can ignore the tiny hints of sourness in the milk, though, putting extra sugar in your tea to make up for it.

You and your partner go out for more nice meals, you have more fun, more sex, to make the most of your dwindling time together. You don’t think about the ever-nearing expiry date but it creeps in occasionally, through a lingering sigh or an invite that you can’t make because it takes place past the expiry date.

One day, you go to pour your milk into your bowl of cereal to find that a lump splashes in with a disappointing  “glomp”.

“Well if you didn’t have to move halfway across the globe, we wouldn’t be in this situation!” Your partner exclaims during an argument.

‘I ought to change the milk…’ you think to yourself. And milk is milk, it is not a relationship, so you change the milk and not your partner. Yet the expiry date looms larger still.

The last few weeks turn to the last few days. You try to fill them with happy memories that will last past the expiry date when the relationship won’t. You cry a lot too, after all no amount of sugar could hide the sourness of gone-off milk.

The expiry date arrives and the carton of milk has long been discarded in the bin. You mutter a tender goodbye, and know that your relationship has expired too.

You know that  every relationship must expire, or stale, go bad or stagnant. For the majority though, the main cause of an expired relationship is not a set date, but an expiry of love.

In your case, the love has not expired… you’re not even sure the love has an expiry date.

A new carton of milk sits in your fridge. You turn it so you can’t see the expiry date when you open your fridge door.

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