La Fin: Why is it so hard to end relationships?
"Jeez, I’ve even got a one night stand as a Facebook friend"
A: It was great to meet you.
B: You too!
A: Well… I better get going.
B: Yeah, me too.
A: Let’s do lunch soon?
B: Yes, absolutely! Text me some dates.
We both know these two people have no intention of seeing each other ever again.
I’ve not met a single solitary person who is good with endings. Maybe it’s a by-product of living in a social media age, but as soon as you meet someone, without having the slightest inclination of their personality, it’s all about exchanging deets. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook (for the over 25s), Snapchat, phone number, National Insurance number, mother’s maiden name. Come to think of it, I guess I have been hacked an inordinate amount of times.
Jeez, I’ve even got a one night stand as a Facebook friend. Why? Good question. We were saying our goodbyes at the train station and the awkwardness was too much to bear. Several years later and there is still no rhyme or reason as to why we’re connected. It’s somehow unthinkably rude to cull her and yet totally unnecessary for her to pop up in my newsfeed. I stopped being able to afford my therapist twelve sessions ago, but I can’t bring myself to end the contract. If my therapist knew this, no doubt she would ask me to dig a little deeper. What are the reasons for prolonging the inevitable? Well Emma (that’s her name), I suppose… fear of upsetting you. Fear of running into you afterwards in case it’s incredibly awkward. Fear of losing the potential of a breakthrough with you, and fear of what happens without you.
This doesn’t just go for professional relationships. I know of countless couples that should have split up months, even years, ago but haven’t because one or both parties are too scared to make a break. It’s too final. And we don’t exist in a world of finality anymore. Thanks to the Google search, Facebook "memories" and smartphones, every job, every lover, every piss we take is captured on record.
As women, we tend to fall fast and hard. The term U-Haul used to be bandied about as a lesbian cliché, but there is obviously some truth in it. It’s socially acceptable, nay encouraged, for women to express their feelings readily – to share, trust, and support each other. In romantic relationships, and even friendships, this can be extremely rewarding. The result is that women tend to be in an emotionally committed place much quicker, and therefore move through their relationship at warp speed. But it also means that things can turn very toxic very quickly. We know our partner’s weaknesses, and can subconsciously press the most sensitive of buttons when we’re feeling attacked. It can result in unhealthy co-dependency, and a lack of sexual appetite. In other words: The Lesbian Urge To Merge.
When things turn sour, and our hearts are broken, it can be extremely painful. That’s what comes with being vulnerable – a necessity for any successful relationship. Generally speaking, men can take longer to get to this emotional availability because of various societal pressures placed upon them, but women are right there from the start. Vulnerable, open, honest.
When things end, I’ve heard from many of my straight friends that they very rarely hear from the guy again unless a) they want to bone or b) they’re feeling a bit emotional and can’t talk to The Lads about it. The last person they were with then ends up being a safety net into which they can release all their feelings. Whereas women… oh, women. We can go for one coffee and be emotionally invested in each other for the rest of our lives. That’s special. It’s beautiful, actually. But it can also be really draining, especially when the other person isn’t giving you much back.
I have a friend, let’s call her Chrissy (because that’s her name). Chrissy had been dating her boyfriend for three years when they broke up for the first time. Then they got back together, then they broke up, then they got back together, then they broke up, then they-- well, you get the gist. I’m sure you’ve been there with your friends before. Or maybe you’ve been in that situation yourself. It’s the Ross & Rachel dilemma. Things have run their course, there are reasons why you’re not together, but the idea of never seeing someone again and losing the potential of what could be is unbearable. And who’s to say things are better without them? At least with them, you know what it’s like. It’s familiar.
But I’m here to say to you that endings are good. Endings means change. The ending of one thing is only the beginning of another. And things end without us realising it all the time. It’s only when we’ve had enough distance from the ending that we can objectively look back and appreciate the moment, the friendship, the love affair, the holiday, the job, for what it was. Something that can never be repeated, but instead paved the way for other incredible things to happen.
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