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SECRETS’ CORNER – No easy break-up

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SECRETS’ CORNER – No easy break-up

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Don’t take your love away from me / Don’t you leave my heart in misery / If you go, then I’ll be blue / ’Cause breaking up is hard to do . . . – Breaking Up Is Hard To Do by Neil Sedaka
SAYING NO OR NOT ACCEDING to a request from people you care about is not an easy thing. One can therefore imagine the emotional upheaval that can occur when someone wants to break up with the person they were involved with for some time. It’s not easy.
What makes this entire emotional event more traumatic is when you want to break up with the individual because you recognize that, despite your best efforts, the relationship will never satisfy your needs even though your partner is fulfilled.
Such a case is the backdrop to this week’s question: What is the best way to end an intimate relationship with a partner of five years?
The woman who requested the question is in a situation where her partner treats her very well and helps her financially. He has made it clear that he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her.
She, on the other hand, is now more conscious of the age gap between them (though she preferred not to say how much that is). Her concern is that when she gets into her prime he will be near retirement age and so will not be able to play a vibrant role as a husband and father, as she wants children.
For these reasons she wants to walk away from the relationship even though she readily admits that her feelings for this man – the first and only one in her life – are very strong.
She fears that he will think she used him to help her get a good education, and was kicking him to the kerb now that she had succeeded. This particular worry gnaws at her because he often expressed fears about it happening, given what he does for a living and the profession she is trained for.
She also worries that he may not be able to handle her rejection because “he worships me” and fears he could behave erratically.
The young woman did assure that her decision was not based on her interest in another man or embarrassment at being involved with her partner; all she wants is a more promising future.
I understand her concerns. Many of us know of, or would have heard about, situations where a young woman became involved with an older man and as he aged and became less active, she found it difficult to cope with being a dutiful partner.
I am also aware of situations where younger women leave the older men who put them through university or their professional school shortly after they became qualified.
I advised the young woman that she would sometimes have to make tough decisions that caused her to feel like a loser, no matter which option she chose. And with each decision there would be consequences. The most important thing was to be honest with herself and be true to what she wanted to achieve.
The following are edited responses:
• The most important thing in ending such a long-term relationship is to do it in person. Don’t do it by phone or let someone do it for you.
Try your best to keep your emotions in check and, when talking to the person, it’s best to look remorseful and not happy.
Pick a place where you can easily escape if the person becomes violent or someone can come to your assistance.
• It may seem cruel but you should just walk away and avoid all the emotional drama; but only do it when you are totally sure that it is what you want to do. Do not prolong the end.
• Ending a relationship after five years cannot be pleasant for these two people. Huge problems must have crept into the relationship. Firstly, we can’t but feel very sorry for them. However difficult, the relationship has to end amicably in order for the grieving process to begin so they can both get on with their lives.
• Don’t drag it out any longer because that would just make it worse.
• She needs to explain why she wants to end the relationship. It would be unfair to leave him wondering if he did something wrong. But don’t play the blame game. You cared about him once and, based on the question, it seems you still do; so be civil to him but firm in your decision.