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How to Painlessly end your Relationship

Updated on March 8, 2012
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc | Source

The Question

This is an answer to sen.sush23's question: How do you get out of a relation that you realize is a burden on the other? My friend's boyfriend has moved out of town for reasons of work. He has difficulties in work front, his family (parents and siblings) and financial issues too. Hence, it is difficult for him to be regular and sensitive about her problems or feelings. She realizes the difficulty he is having in giving her the space she needs, yet feels hurt at his lack of attention. So she now wants to let him go, without a formal breakup, because talking of a breakup may be hurting both.

101 ways to end a Relationship

I fear this will become a longer text. So I will answer the above question first and for those who are interested in the "making of" I will provide my personal experiences and thoughts that lead to this statement. I think the best way to "get out" of a relationship is to tell the other person you want out and to deal with the consequences of this statement. I did so myself a few times and I also was on the other side. So here are my thoughts about stealing yourself out instead of keeping your self-respect.

Be assured that I will never be against finishing a relationship that doesn't fulfill it's purpose anymore. Assuming that it's not a temporary crisis that is making your friend feel uncomfortable, wanting to leave her partner seems justifiable as he doesn't seem to be able to give her what she is expecting from her relationships. But here ends my support for her decision to sneak out as I, unlike some other commenters who think that closure is overrated, am a firm believer of setting things as right as possible as they tend to haunt us for years to come, costing much more energy than any open talk ever would.

My very first girlfriend sneaked out, letting me in the dark of the fact, that she had fallen in love with my then best friend Jens. There were a few final encounters but very soon even I could feel that something had changed. I was too naiv, too insecure and inexperienced to mention what I've come to realize, and then it was over without me realizing what had happened. This is something that I wouldn't want to miss from my present point of view as it helped me to grow up and become wiser in many ways. But I was 18 then and think that even that was quite late. Anyone having left the thirties behind acting like we did 20 years ago is behaving inappropriately immature in my eyes. Don't misunderstand me. These things happen to the best of us for many reasons, sometimes even repeatedly but they should also be roadsigns on our way to maturity and character developement and be left behind as soon as possible.

Seeds of Maturity

It hurt, deeply, in a fuzzy way as I couldn't really grab the cause of it, and even years after I believed to have forgotten about her, I would go through my little shoebox, looking at our photos and picking up a tape she once had recorded and listening to it, realizing what went wrong, crying, healing the wounds she had left, realizing it wasn't her but me who had hurt the other first. But that took an insight that hasn't come often to me ever since and could have saved me from committing the very same mistakes in my following relationships. That talk, that should have taken place would surely have disappointed me then, I might not even have gotten the idea but yet it would have planted a seed in my mind and soul. A seed that through other relationships would have been watered and put in the sun, and that would have grown with experience. A sapling that would have been trimmed and been protected until it had grown strong enough to stand on it's own. Reflecting on your question I start to think of the answer to the what if.

Impenetrable Concepts

But it never took place and so I started another relationship, continuing my miserable conduct of togetherness, cultivating a garden full of pebbles and weeds, wondering why nothing flourished. I started looking for a book about gardening and found several authors that fascinated me and followed them, not realizing that they were good writers, excellent storytellers but only knew how to take care of their own little world hoping that it might also work for others. And like that I erred over 20 years developing such a refined concept of (non-)relationship that today makes it impossible for me to find peace and harmony in the idea of being with a "significant other". Knowing and seeing through this does not even leave a scratch on the fascinatingly shiny surface of my relationship bubble.

That Huge Oak

No, I don't suffer. Not from that reason. My seed of love has withered long ago, even before that one girl, with whom I could have changed it all. I held it in my palm, showing it to the only woman that deserved my love then and she tossed it out of my hand. And I picked it up, showing it to her again and again. And she just ignored it. Ignored me. She couldn't see it. For her it was a tiny stone, a tiny speckle. She couldn't see the tree that was hidden in it. That huge oak, with it's myriads of leaves, whispering in the air, it's thousands of juicy fruits, it's enormous roots, letting him withstand the strongest storm, feeding him even in times of prevailing scarcity. That huge oak that never came to be.


My tree that I am taking care of today is a weak substitute for that mighty oak. It stands firm, supported by a solid construct of reason but is hollow, providing enough cover for society so they accept me as one of theirs. There hangs a tiny string reminding of that first woman, that is played by all the others that come close. They all fail to find the melody that could heal this very first wound, making me the man they are looking for. But they only find discord, running away covering their ears. I don't want that. It is not my fault. I always warn them. Maybe I should come with the surgeon general's warning: relationship with this man can lead to serious insights that will make you feel the suffering that you carry around since you are a child. He's not your father.

Final Judgement

My personal experience, spun out a bit and yet true to the full extent might help you to understand my judgement. It is nothing more than this, when I condemn this path of just letting a once flourishing relationship wither away like an unwanted piece of weed. Although it might seem dead already, there is still that string inside that your friend once was able to strike, that she got that sweet melody from that made them feel special, made them feel that they belonged together. It will never chime again, sure, but trampling on it is just rude. That is playing that sad tune he's probably been hearing all his life, reminding him of his emptyness, his first rejection by a woman, maybe similar to mine. Why would anyone want to do that? There might be no love left, in fact I am pretty sure there has never been true love between the two as most of our relationships are nothing but an re-enactment of this very first one, hence just reminiscences of the one unparalleled love, but a little respect should remain. This tiny little bit of empathy that all of us have when we cry or laugh in a movie, when we get angry when someone treats a friend unfairly, this tiny little bit of care, isn't that worth a few ounce of discomfort? And after all, wouldn't you feel at least a bit ashamed of such faint-hearted behaviour, wouldn't you feel a tiny tremor in your self-esteem, if you imagined leaving someone like this? She might not feel it right away but it will come back to her. There will be another man, and there she might have this sensation that something is lacking, again. And it will not be the man's attention, or his care for her. It will be her self-esteem that fades away, very slowly until one day it will be gone. That's assuming it has been there before.

Again, it's just a judgement and it doesn't change anything but on the other hand it wouldn't have to because there are consequences and from weakness no strength can arise.

I wish her all the love she wishes for. I wish him the peace of mind he's lacking right now. They reminded me of something very dear to me: my self-respect.


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    • Cassie Smith profile image

      Cassie Smith 

      6 years ago from U.S.

      There's really no easy way to end a relationship.


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