I’ve learned something about love from a close friend who’s experienced heartbreak more than once. 

While on holiday recently, I had the chance to sit down and catch up with one of my closest friends from high school. He and I were like two peas in a pod back then, with big dreams and high hopes for the future – in life and love.

Since we parted ways after Grade 12, I have only loved two men. He has tried to love many more women than that. And no, he is not promiscuous – far from it. He is one of the sweetest guys you could ever hope to meet. You can feel the warmth radiating off him in waves.

He is generous and caring and full of the joys of life despite several disappointments and tragedies. He is the kind of man you can tell your secrets to; the kind of man who hugs you and holds on until you’re ready to let go; the kind of man who can light up a whole room with a smile. So why is he alone?

During our conversation, he told me that the woman he considered to be “the one” had kept him in reserve for years while she floated around the world, from man to man, from job to job. She gave their friendship just enough attention to keep it alive – the same way you top-water a garden to keep the plants from keeling over, instead of soaking the ground to encourage deeper roots and growth. During a dry spell in her life, she convinced him to move to another country so that they could be together and “really try to make it work”. He packed up and got on a plane in a matter of days. It took her less time to decide that a relationship with him wasn’t what she wanted after all.

I think a lesser man would have given up on love in the face of such adversity, such rejection, such pain. But my friend dusted himself off, chalked it up to experience and gave his bruised heart time to heal. He says he is the richer for it. Now he knows what he wants. Now he knows what he is prepared to fight for. Now he knows what he deserves.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of The Moth by Aimee Mann.


Janine Papendorf likes coffee, chocolate and wine. Not necessarily in that order. She’s married to a nerdy biker and they’re raising Cape Town’s cleverest child. When she’s not building Lego castles or watching old movies, Janine likes to send words into cyberspace. She’s a freelance writer and content strategist based in South Africa’s beautiful Mother City. Witness her obsession with pink flowers on Instagram, or contact her to collaborate on a project.


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