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Relationships & Breakups: Letting Go By Alpa Saujani

When it comes to dating, relationships and love, alongside the excitement and elation, come the possibility of heartaches and breakups. They are part of our personal life journey, experiences that most of us endure at some point. However, letting go of a relationship can be challenging when you are not the one to initiate the breakup. Often, when you are in emotional turmoil it’s difficult to get clarity and perspective...

Why did your relationship breakdown? Why did your dreams about a happy, healthy relationship not come into fruition? What went wrong?

There are a million and one reasons. But fundamentally, they all originate from the same source – the inability to give one another what you need. Whether this leads to infidelity, trust issues, lack of communication, etc, is immaterial as it always directs back to this root cause. When you’re not the one who initiated the breakup, you may disagree and feel that you were actually getting what you needed. Whilst this may in part be true, within a relationship both people’s needs have to be fulfilled. Therefore, if one person is not happy, it begs the question of how can they realistically be making the other person happy? By clinging onto a relationship with these dynamics, what kind of outcome and sustainability would it have for the future?

Why did I not see the breakup coming? Were there signs?

If you step back for a moment and reflect on the period prior to the breakup, you’ll probably discover that your partner’s behaviour, or feelings were changing towards you. Signs of withdrawal, lack of interest to engage in conversation or intimacy and general melancholy to name but a few. But as human beings, often we choose to consciously and sub-consciously ignore alarm bells as we are not ready, or simply do not want to, deal with issues that are unlikely to have our desired outcome. Does this sound like a healthy and happy relationship between two people? Who would actually benefit from being in a relationship, where one person is clearly discontented?

What could I have done differently?

When you’re not the one that wanted the break up, it’s hard to agree with and accept the reasons for going different ways from your partner. This is partly a result of the shock, denial and fear of losing someone with whom you foresaw a happy future together. As you try to process and make sense of it all, it’s likely that you will ruminate and imagine different scenarios of what you could have done to prevent the breakup. However, the harsh reality is that you cannot change the past - . there’s nothing at this stage that you could go and do differently - so what’s the point of torturing yourself with the ‘what ifs’. It just results in making yourself feel much worse and delaying your healing process. Perhaps it therefore makes more sense to let go of the relationship and try to learn from your experiences to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.

Can I win my partner back?

If you’ve been in a relationship for some time, it’s natural to feel trepidation about the idea of being alone again. Furthermore, it can be difficult to let go when you feel that you have invested a lot of time and effort into someone. Consequently, these thoughts may drive you into thinking it’s a good idea to try and win your partner back, especially if you’re struggling to accept your partner’s reasons for leaving. But here’s the thing that you may not be able to see clearly through your anguish – given the choice, would you want someone to give you a gift out of obligation, or from the heart? Likewise, would you choose to be in a relationship with someone who is there out of obligation, habit or guilt? Or someone who wholeheartedly wants to be with you, out of their own free will?

What would your relationship be like if you did win your partner back?

Hypothetically, let’s say through mind games, emotional blackmail and guilt tripping, you win your partner back. Is that a healthy foundation to re-start your relationship? Nevertheless, there you are feeling pleased with your victory but how long will that feeling last? Firstly, the issues that caused the initial breakup are not simply going to vanish into thin air. Secondly, could you still relax into the relationship by treating and trusting your partner in the same way you did before the breakup? Imagine, every time they are late, or you can’t get hold of them, how likely are you to drive yourself into a neurotic frenzy wondering whether you’ll ever see or hear from them again? What about when you interact; would you constantly be stepping on eggshells fearful that you may say, or do something that leads to them wanting to leave you again? Is this relationship, where love and joy have now been replaced with anxiety, pressure and stress, really worth fighting, or holding on to?

We all deal with breakups in different ways. Often it’s not a pleasant experience, but unfortunately no relationship comes with a lifetime guarantee. We grieve for the loss of our partner, as well as the loss of future dreams that we had hoped to have shared. Trying to hang on to a relationship where happiness and fulfilment do not exist benefits no one – life is precious and intended to be lived in a joyous manner. Furthermore, using underhanded tactics to try and win a partner back will not result in happiness but is likely to be at the cost of your sanity, dignity and self-respect. Hindsight is a great thing but once a relationship has run its course, there’s not much you can do to change the situation and as hard as it may be, you just have to accept that it’s over. Each relationship that we have, regardless of duration, serves us lessons. If we are willing to seek them, we will find them and ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes in future relationships - look at the past, learn from it and move on.

I will leave you with a quote, which certainly gives one food for thought:

“Watching someone walk out of your life should not make you bitter or cynical about love. But rather make you realise that if you wanted to be with the wrong person so much, how amazing it will be when the right one comes along...” Anonymous

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Absolutely love the quote at the end. I am sure that many people will be able to relate to this situation but sometimes when you are actually in it, your judgement can get clouded. You feel pressure from your friend, family and I guess society to some extent to try and make a long-term relationship work out. But ultimately, if you are not happy, how long can you continue with the pretence. It get's tiring and exhausting and you just end up fighting anyway.
Thank you for a thought provoking article, parts of it certainly resonated with me. Especially about the alarm bells going off and not listening to my gut instinct because I was afraid that it would be the end. But despite ignoring it the result did not change. I think if I am honest it was at some level a relief, trying to fight and hold onto a relationship which really was not serving either one of us.


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