Debating the 'Break-up'
So you’ve read a few of my articles about fighting and making up with your current partner. You get it, it requires a lot of compassion and patience for two people to stay together, but you just can’t help it, the thought of ‘Should I stay or should I leave,’ still plays quietly in the background.
The decision to leave someone is quite possibly one of the most significant and agonizing decisions we ever have to make in this life. And though we may have done it before, it doesn’t seem to get much easier.
Before you jump ship though, let’s have a chat here and see if we can’t put some genuine thought and consideration into this difficult yet possible resolution tossing around in your mind.
Put on your favorite contemplative and melancholic music and let’s get to it.
You’re Not Alone
There are billions of people around the world (about 7.7 billion at the time of writing this). Of all those people, we jokingly know that millions are having sex, dying, and being born. Yet we may overlook, especially when we feel so alone while we debate to stay or leave a love affair, is that millions of people are weighing the decision to remain or go from their current relationship.
It could be at a dinner party, a day on the beach, or during the holidays, but there is a good chance that someone is secretly going back and forth in their minds as to whether they want to be with their partner who is sitting right there beside them. This poor partner who is clueless as to the life-altering decision that is being made with them in mind.
This is not to say these people are evil for smiling by their partner while covertly debating their escape. The choice to stay or go is much more common now than it ever has been. And if we are completely honest, we’ve all been through it before. Our partners we declared undying love for now seem to be so bizarre, so different than what we thought we wanted.
We feel that we are supposed to be continuously happy once we have found the right one. We’ve heard our grandparents say it takes work, but we still think it should be easy once that right person comes along. And for a moment, we thought we found them. But now, after months or years of being together, we are starting to question if we have made a mistake.
We start to wonder:
Is everybody else as sexually frustrated as I am? Other couples must surely be doing it all the time, fulfilling all their erotic fantasies.
Is it normal to be this psychologically defeated? I just feel so exhausted trying to make things work sometimes, it almost seems pointless.
Am I the only one with a partner that seems so set on making the same mistakes over and over again? It seems they are pathological in their behavior. I should run, because they are never going to change from their set ways and habits.
Whats more is that we are constantly exposed to the idea of their being something better out there for us.
Movies and books tell great, successful love stories where obstacles are overcome and everything is right in the end.
Our friends generally seem to be so much happier with their partners than we are. We never see them argue the way we do with our partners.
Tinder and Match are always there. One is to ensure that we find the right one before we even actually meet and the other is so sexually-driven, it promises we can always get laid if we just swipe right enough.
Besides that, we have all the usual suspects for making rash decisions.
Not enough sleep
Not eating well
Or just general life stress
These all make us feel a bit more confident and even excited about leaving and starting over again. The beginning is the fun part anyway, right?
It’s a Different Game
Our grandparents and parents had a lot of outside pressure to make things work. Religions said that the marriage was sanctioned by God himself. Society would shame those who didn’t keep their promises. And kids would be deeply damaged if their parents went separate ways.
But these external pressures no longer hold sway over us. Religions don’t scare us anymore. Society doesn’t really care. And for those with children, it seems that even they would prefer separated, ‘happy’ parents rather than miserable parents who stay together for the children.
It awkwardly makes us feel real lonely in our decision of whether we should end things or keep trying. It is as if the world has turned upside down on the the idea of being a couple.
Before it was crazy and rebellious to leave a relationship. Now it is rebellious and crazy to stick around and try to make it work. It’s all about focusing on ourselves and if something doesn’t bring us absolute happiness, trash it and get a new one, be it for a short time or a long time. But only for as long as it is good for you.
‘Do what makes you happy.’ Our friends and family will say.
There is little reason left in relationships unlike how their used to be. We are basically stuck with only our feelings to make the decision of whether or not to continue. And well, those feelings, they fluctuate quite often, many times without any logically sound reason.
So, let me be the devil’s advocate here and create a sort of ‘are you sure,’ checklist before we sign off on anything.
Get quiet, get comfy. Choose a chair you don’t normally sit in and appreciate the early morning silence as we go through our checklist:
Is the other person truly responsible for your unhappiness?
Yes, our partners can make us unhappy at times. Disappoint us. But how much can clearly be attributed to him or her? Is it possible that they were just around when something else bad happened and they are being blamed by proximity?
Is it possible that living with someone is just inherently difficult?
If you’ve made a few rounds of living with someone already, you may be aware that living with anybody is going to be difficult. You see them up close with all their little imperfections. If you’re really self-aware, you know too that you are also a difficult person to live with.
So before moving on to the next love story, make sure it isn’t just the general challenge everyone faces when learning to live with someone. Either that or continue going through the same cycle every few years of changing partners because you can’t stand their bad habits anymore.
It’s up to you to decide if you want to be alone and not deal with being that close to someone, learn to handle one person’s imperfections, or go from one imperfect person to another and leaving when you feel incapable of tolerating them another day.
Is it possible you may be contributing to the problems?
Of course, your partner is the obvious one at fault here in the equation. But despite their exhausting ways of getting under your skin and causing you grief, can you maybe see, at least a little, how some of it was your fault? How might your particularities subversively be the reason they are such the trouble-maker and bringer-of-grief that they are?
What do you manage to not fight about?
It’s a shame, but many people only seem to focus on the negative. We only read news stories that are bad news.
If you are completely honest with yourself, how many things have they done right? Or at the very least, how much have they not done wrong to you? Is it possible they’ve even made changes and attempts at fulfilling the expectations you put on them from your last fight?
Rather than focusing on the one time out of ten they messed up. How about all the times they did something right, that quite possibly wasn’t for them at all, but for you?
If it helps, look back on your previous partners and see what your current partner has where the formers have failed. As silly as it sounds, try to focus on the positive aspects and not get too down about the negative ones.
Do you really see your single friends with so much better people?
Have a look at what is out there. If you have single friends, how often do they find someone both intelligent and sexy on the hook-up dating sites. Is there a chance they may actually be jealous of the partner you have? If you think there might be someone out there better, possibly perfect and flawless, ask them a few questions and get to know them a bit. You may soon find they are just as human and flawed as everyone else.
Have you really given them a chance?
Talk with your partner, but with sincerity and calmness to see how they actually feel and to also tell them how you feel. This should be done without anger or accusations. Perhaps, if done correctly, and it is a difficult thing to do, you may come to realize you’ve been a bit unfair with them and that they too are just as concerned about the relationship as you are.
What would the children think?
If you have children, put yourself in their shoes. Maybe children would prefer a split home based on new research, but ask yourself first nonetheless. Rather than having the bigger house with their own bedroom and playroom, now they have two tiny rooms with possibly new step-siblings to get along with and two new step-parents they have to listen to. Compare the difficulties of doubling the amount of relationships to maintain to how bad the current one really is.
How normal is it to have adventurous sex after a couple of years together?
Yes, when you are young and beautiful and in love, you are ripping each other apart every chance you get. 4 times a day and the Kama Sutra complete in the first month. But like every beautiful thing, it will naturally go from great to normal. Rather than blaming your relationship for what is natural, see that it is indeed normal for sex to be less of a fire and more of long lasting, burning coal as time moves forward.
Are you ready to risk one kind of familiar unhappiness for a new, but different kind of unhappiness?
Nobody is going to make you 100% happy. If they did, that happiness would just slide down the scale of realism to normal. What is guaranteed in life and love is waves of happiness and sadness. A mutual agreement was made between these two long before we ever existed. It is impossible to know one without the other. I won’t get too philosophical here, but just know that there is no crest of the wave without the trough.
Hope or Experience
Ultimately, we are forced to choose between hope or experience when deciding to leave a relationship.
If you have deeply considered the above questions and you still feel it is the right thing to do with the possibility of profound regret, then with all courage… You should go.