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Leaving someone: when you're the one ending the relationship

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Love doesn’t have to end with a fight, treason or even a quarrel. Sometimes it just subsides, without you even knowing it. You’re in a bath together, one that cooled off slowly, and one of the two steps out first. The other maybe tries to refill it with warm water, but it’s too late. The relationship is over.

I was the one who ended my longest relationship ever, one that lasted for eleven years. Years after we had survived the seven year itch (and for me, it really itched), I was having doubts again. One after another, my friends got married, and I didn’t feel the desire at all. One time when watching a marriage proposal scene in ER, I think I even yelled ‘Don’t even think of doing that!’. Yes, that was weird – so I started thinking. 

Heart pulling a trick

He was my best friend, made me laugh every day, and there was passion, and yet, being together wasn’t inevitable anymore after all these years. I didn’t feel the need to be with him anymore, and I couldn’t find it back.  It was as if my own heart pulled me a trick, because I loved him and still do. Yet he wasn’t the man I wanted to share my life with anymore. 

Feelings are transient, even the strongest ones. That is an almost unbearable thought, especially when it comes to love, but it’s true. It’s possible to adore, desire, worship someone and then lose the desire to be with them. 

Find out if you can mend it

What every good relationship deserves in this situation, is a thorough investigation. You need to find out whether this is a temporary crisis or a definitive goodbye. Is it possible to revoke the old feelings with a good conversation – with or without a professional -, a trip to a new place? Is there an external cause for the crisis that’s solvable or temporary (like young children, who need sleep, energy and attention)? Try, fight, experiment, be patient, but in the end: be honest with yourself. 

Tough and necessary

Getting up from the bath that the two of you have spent such a wonderful time in, is tough. But staying, just because of your beautiful past and to prevent causing the other person pain, is treason – treason to life, treason to yourself and most of all treason to the other person, because they deserve nothing less than a steamy bath surrounded by candles with bubbling bath foam. 

 Text: Susan Smit - Photo: Priscilla du Preez