Saturday, 12 May 2012

Making the break

Even after all these years, I still feel a bit guilty about some of the breakups I caused, and the possibly dubious reasons I came up with.

It was a Guardian piece "42 reasons to break up with someone" that made me recall some of the grounds I had used myself. For example:

1) She was a chain-smoker, and I hate cigarette smoke.
2) His real personality was buried under his speed*-addiction.
3) He/she was just terminally boring.
4) She was totally self-centred.
5) She was politically poles apart from me.
6) She was terrible at sex.
7) She was too intense/neurotic/anxious.
8) She was too wild/whacky/off-the-wall.
9) She wasn't interested in politics/art/anything intellectual.
10) She was too deferential and unassertive.

Of course when it comes to the crucial moment to call it off, the specific reasons are usually ignored for fear of a long and pointless squabble about whether the other person really is self-centred or neurotic or useless at sex.

We settle for some customary cliché about the relationship not working, or not going anywhere, or screwing us up, and leave the other person to work out the reasons - which have probably been brought up often enough anyway.

But even though I always told myself the breakup was inevitable, I would still feel a bit guilty about it. Was I being too demanding and expecting them to be someone they were not? Was I being too impatient and not giving the relationship enough time to grow?

At the end of the day I just had to trust my own instincts and accept that if the relationship felt wrong it was wrong and there was nothing more to be said. There was no point in analysing it to death. And if the other person was upset, it really couldn't be helped.

In any case, the person I broke up with might well have been equally unhappy about the relationship and been relieved rather than upset when it ended.

And I hope those women and men who broke up with me don't feel too guilty about it. If they thought we were incompatible, no doubt we were, and I bear them no grudges. But then again, I'm lucky enough to have found someone I am compatible with. Many people unfortunately never do.

* amphetamine, that is 


John Gray said...

I am a firm believer in RIGHT PERSON RIGHT TIME
a few times I have met the right man but completely at the wrong time.. ( and visa versa!)

Nick said...

John - Yes, I also believe in the right person at the right time. When you both happen to be going in the same direction and looking for the same things in life.

Grannymar said...

Here comes another paid up member of the Right Person Right Time Club!

Nick said...

Grannymar - But it's a shame we have to dump so many other people before we find the right person!

kylie said...

i'm so pleased for you, nick!

JohnD said...

I've never had problems breaking off a relationship tho' I've coped badly with some which were initiated by the other person.

The friends I've kept in relationships have lasted and stood the test of time and all the life traumas which beset us!

Wisewebwoman said...

Some of mine I feel badly about, being at either side of the fence.
I wish we could be more honest with each other, I tried to be a few times and sometimes I was dropped without explanation.
I've met the right one, I think, but he was in a bad space at the time.
You are lucky to have found the one, Nick.

Cheerful Monk said...

I have trouble breaking up with friends and usually don't do it, but I handle it reasonably well when I get dumped. I figure it just wasn't a good match. My husband and I met at the right time and we've been married over 47 years now. :)

Nick said...

Thanks, Kylie!

John D - Well, it's usually more upsetting when it's the other person doing the dumping! But there was one person I felt particularly guilty breaking up with because she had given up a degree course and moved cities to be with me.

Nick said...

www - I think most of us would like to be totally honest, but if we are, it can backfire badly on occasion. A shame about the right man in the wrong space.

Monk - In the end I think that's the best way to deal with a breakup - just conclude it wasn't a good match to begin with. Endless brooding over it won't change anything.

Macy said...

Bad at sex??? I've never met anyone who was bad at sex!!!
Not once we got going....
Which must mean either
1. I've had a charmed life
2. I'm easy pleased.
3. I am an excellent teacher!

Rummuser said...

My first great love dumped me. Not for any of the Guardian list of reasons, but because her family insisted on my changing my religion or agreeing to future children if any to be brought up in their religion. She did not force her faith on me, one of the reasons in the list; her family did and she chose her family over me.

The next serious relationship ended when she wanted to get married and I did not at that point of time. She was not prepared to wait, and I reluctantly ended the relationship.

In the few other cases, we simply drifted apart for the reason that I was moving around.

The last relationship, ended in our being married for 40 years and ended when my wife died.

I don't know what the future holds.

Nick said...

Macy - Never met anyone who's bad at sex? That's remarkable. I suspect the reasons are 1 and 3 rather than 2. I doubt if you're that easily pleased.

Ramana - It's outrageous when families want to force their own religion on someone from a different family. Religion should be a private belief, not a compulsory doctrine.

It's sad that your marriage ended so prematurely.

nursemyra said...

Macy must live a charmed life indeed. I've known two men who didn't have a clue how to enhance the sexual experience beyond their achieving orgasm. And from talks with my female friends I know I'm not alone. Though to be fair, a lot of sexual compatibility comes down to chemistry. If you've got chemistry, you're 9/10s of the way to a sublime experience.

Breaking up with someone who loves you is horrible. I felt guilty about destroying my ex husband's life for about 10 years. Thankfully we've come full circle and are on friendly terms now.

Nick said...

Myra - Only two?? From what I gather, many many men are sexually illiterate. As you say, they think orgasm is the be-all and end-all. And chemistry is very important, for sure.

Ten years of guilt is awful. Glad to know it finally subsided.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Many of the reasons are perfectly legitimate. In fact, I wouldn't date a smoker or an addict in the first place. And unlike Macy, I have encountered a few men who are lousy in bed and absolutely unwilling to be open to change. But those relationships end quickly. At any rate, I believe in kind break-ups and always pin them on myself if at all possible. I do think there is a right person at the right time, but I also believe that many relationships aren't meant to last but still have a valuable place in your life.

Bijoux said...

I've used the lame excuse, "You're just too nice for me," but I actually meant it! Though it's also a kind way of saying, "You're boring," I suppose.

Nick said...

Agent - Interesting that you try to pin the problem on yourself if possible. Generous and diplomatic. And you're right, fleeting relationships can be as valuable in their way as the more permanent ones.

Bijoux - I suppose "too nice" could mean too tolerant and too spineless, but yes, it can also mean predictable and boring.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have never enjoyed hurting anyone's feelings, but some relationships are not meant to last forever. Flip is the love of my life and we have been together 20 years - we both experienced earlier ones that didn't work. And by the way, a lot of men are lousy in bed because they are selfish people in general. I suspect that many women are, too, but since I am straight I cannot vouch for this.

Macy said...

This wuld be a good online discussion, Nick. How easy would it be to do this in a Google+ forum?

Nick said...

Heart - Good point about men simply being selfish. I think a lot of men still see sex as a source of pleasure for them alone.

Macy - It probably would, but unfortunately I have other things to do during the day!

kylie said...

it seems as if everyone is talking about sex, good sex

Nick said...

Kylie - Yes, funny how many people have commented on good and bad sex! The cliché has it that any relationship without satisfying sex is doomed, but I think that's nonsense. There are plenty of asexuals out there, and couples who find sex boring and would rather read a good book.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

You are indeed fortunate - and so am I. Both my sons, too, seem to have found their soulmates, which is lovely to see.

So many people don't try long enough to make a relationship work, but if it's really wrong, no amount of 'work' on this good earth will make it right, and it's best to call things off rather than make each other miserable.

Nick said...

Jay - You do need to make an effort to nurture a relationship, even if all the basic signs are good. Jenny and I had some serious squabbles and differences in the early stages, but there was a fundamental bond that kept us together.

Roses said...

Sorry I'm late to the party.

The last relationship I ended, I did so on the basis that it didn't feel right and I wasn't willing to ignore that warning. During the course of our break-up discussion, it was clear why I'd had warning bells.

As for sex, yeah...I've had appalling, bad and polite sex. And yes, they have been reasons for letting a relationship go.

I realise that being single (and a parent) for so long, has enabled me to put relationships in a different place. They are incredibly important, but so is my happiness and the happiness of my partner. If it's not working for either, then we must do something else.

Nick said...

Roses - You're right, there's no point in soldiering on with a relationship if it's clear that all sorts of basic requirements are not being satisfied. It's no good flogging a dead horse.

Anonymous said...

Hope springs eternal.

And in your case, can it really be regretted considering that the sequence led to where and with whom you are today? (I'm thinking the answer is no.)

Nick said...

Blackwater - You're right, the string of wash-out relationships in my younger days eventually led to the very viable relationship I enjoy today!