Not All Which Ends, Has Failed

Walk it OffSome cogs have clicked together recently in the slow and constant grind of gears in my head, and two converse ideas have formed:

Not all relationships which end, have failed.

Not all relationships which have failed, end.

To be honest, at first, I was only focused on the first idea. I wanted to write a post about how the ending of a relationship does not signal that it has failed. That some  (probably many, even most) relationships are not meant to last forever. That our irrational obsession with ensuring the longevity of a relationship despite massive sacrifices of happiness only exists because of the relationship-centered culture we are influenced by and the assurance that being in a long-term relationship is happiness, not that you should seek happiness from within yourself and hope to find someone awesome enough to appreciate that happiness as you do theirs.

Quite a mouthful, I agree. Which is why I hesitate to even get into the second point: that not all relationships which have failed, end. That is truly unfortunate. How many failed relationships do you know of that still exist? How do you know it has failed? If a couple is staying together because they appreciate the status that comes with being together, or staying together for the kids, has the relationship failed, or have they found a common point strong enough to validate the relationship?

More questions than answers appear. For the sake of brevity, I am going to set aside the second point for now, and focus on my original idea:

Not all relationships which end, have failed. This also means that when you see an end coming, that it doesn’t mean you are failing, or that the other person(s) has/have failed. Sometimes, a relationship has simply run its course, and that’s okay. Sometimes, a relationship evolves into a different type of relationship, and that’s okay, too.

Everyone, please calm down. It’s not the end of the world; it’s the end (or the evolution) of a relationship. Not every relationship is meant to last forever.

This doesn’t change the fact that breaking up is hard. I’ve been through it. It sucks. You cry. You rage. You self-evaluate. You doubt. You pick the relationship apart in an effort to pinpoint the exact moment it went wrong. Often, it’s impossible. Always, it’s hard. The difficulty of breaking up is likely what most people are trying to avoid when they look into “making it last.” They want to avoid the pain of breakup, and perhaps even the judgement of those who would believe they “failed.”

Why are we so obsessed with longevity equaling relationship “success”, when variety might serve us just as well? I can understand the mindset of loving someone so much that you want them around as long as possible, and you want them as happy as possible. What I don’t understand is the desire to accomplish this at all costs, sometimes even your own happiness. Do the person who loves you a favor: do what makes you happy. Because, if they love you, they want you happy, and they’d rather have you happy without them than miserable with them. If they don’t feel that way, they probably don’t actually love you, or love you in that scary dependent way that necessitates a step in the other direction anyway.

Above all, remember, that it is okay. We fear change, and yet change is inevitable and constant. The more you accept that in your day-to-day life, perhaps the better you’ll get at breaking up. That sounds awful, but if you have the emotional strength to handle a breakup better than you currently do (not well; few people handle a breakup well, I think), is that really such a bad thing? If you can minimize your angst and streamline the road to happiness, I’d say that’s a step in the right direction.

Mourn the death of your relationship, sure, but just as we remember the happy memories we shared with someone who has passed away, remember the happy relationship memories and be grateful that you’re still around to experience that again, even if it seems at the moment that you never will.

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  1. I agree with both your points here. We learn from each relationship (hopefully, we do) and that is why none is a failure. I also think part of the reason people cling to the “failed” relationship long after it has ended because they can’t figure what happened and until they do, the relationship still holds power over them.

    • Very good point. I still feel like there is so much to be said on this topic. There’s so much to gain from being more open to the idea that a relationship can end successfully.

      • Your theory that we see an ended relationship as a failure because we are conditioned to expect relationships to last forever is worth expanding on.

      • Thanks for the tip. I already have friends who have mentioned in person that they’d like to see a part II to this, and I’m thinking it’s a good idea. It felt a little unfinished after I published it.

  2. unequivocalspruik

     /  March 3, 2013

    Reblogged this on An Unequivocal Spruik and commented:
    Polyamory: Consensual, Ethical & responsible non-monogamy

  1. Failing at Forever Isn’t Failing; A Revisit « Love Times Infinity

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