You’ve been dating this guy for a while. It’s not the blissful union you envisioned after that first date. You aren’t happy, you’re not in love, and you want your life to go another direction.
Why don’t you just break up with him?
Why is that so much easier said than done?
Human nature is programmed to resist change, and breaking up is a huge change. It often means selling a house, dividing the contents of the house, supporting yourself on one income, and not having a plus one around. You’re used to this life, and the idea of tearing that down only to go it alone or start over with someone else is daunting, and often too scary to go through with. So you pack your ideals away and stick with what you know, because it’s comfortable.
And so often women get stuck on the impression that to be single is a failure. Thou must get married and have children in order to live a fulfilling life because that’s why your parents did, and their parents, and their parents before them! So instead of building your own happiness as an individual, you look to someone else to provide that.
Or maybe you’re In Love! But if you’re not happy with your relationship, are you in love with your partner, or are you in love with love? One of these things is not like the other, but that doesn’t make walking away from the idea of love any easier. The love you feel is real, just not the best kind.
Then your biological clock is ticking and you really, really want to have children, so you stay with a man who you can tolerate, and pop the dreams that aren’t child-related because you’re in your thirties and it’s now or never.
Making the decision to break up is hard, and so it should be. It IS a big deal. You don’t just cut ties and walk away. You’re tearing down a large part of your life, and the life of someone else who you loved at one time, and who you may still care for. Logic has nothing on emotion, and it’s very difficult to step towards that loss, even if you’re angry, even if you’ve done everything you can to make the relationship work, even when you know you’ll go crazy if you stay with this man.
When you do go through a breakup, either brought on by your own decision or his, accept the grief, the pain, the anger. However you feel after a breakup is right. And once you acknowledge those feelings, experience those feelings, you can step forward into your next journey and really go after what you want.
Catherine Muss is a freelance writer based in Waterloo Region. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University, and she would have minored in psychology if she’d taken the “right” psych classes, but she took the fun ones instead.