When do you decide to stay?

June 22, 2015

photo-9At what point in a relationship do you decide leaving is not an option? At what point do you decide leaving is plausible? At what point do you decide the end is immanent? It’s been fascinating me lately if you’re past your twenties, thirties or beyond chances are you’ve ended a romantic relationship or friendship in your lifetime. I’ve never had a lifelong friendship –someone I’ve known since childhood and still remain friends with. I can remember one friend in junior high school who I remained friends with, at least loosely, through college -at some point after that we lost contact. I recall always admiring that despite the years since we were close friends hanging out daily in JHS, she would find the time to reach out to me every couple of months, see how I was doing, catch up on life. In a reunion of sorts she hosted in her home, I realized she stayed in contact with several of our old friends from JHS, whereas I left them in the past, I wonder why?

In romantic relationships it intrigues me even more. What is the defining factor in letting someone go? When I look back on my failed attempts at marriage I always think why did it end? An incident? A character flaw? Lack of logistics? A sudden lack of interest? Sometimes even I don’t quite remember, can’t exactly pinpoint what it was that broke the camels’ back. But what intrigues me more than why it ended is why that thing in particular lead to its ending. I don’t imagine my parents marriage has been happy go lucky every second of the way but they’ve been married for almost 40 years and I’d imagine during those 40 years there were hardships and I’d also imagine that some of those hardships, had they involved some other couple, would have led to separation or divorce. Why does domestic violence lead to divorce for some but not others? Why does infidelity lead to divorce for some and not others? Why do some people put up with a lost of interest and others call it quits? Why do some make it through financial strains and others say enough is enough?

I really don’t know the answer but it fascinates me, what is a good reason to stick to the person you’re with? What is a good reason to let them go? There are no clear answers, there is no absolute, no incident or character flaw so universally detested that no matter what they would break any couple apart. Family, culture and wider society also play a role –who will you hurt if you decide to leave or stay? What kind of pressure do you put on yourself or other put on you to keep going or to leave in search of something unknown? My mom came from a family of divorce, my dads parents stuck together until their death, was one couple happier than the other? What was the defining factor that allowed them to choose different paths?

We can’t go back in time and change things and we can’t honestly believe that either separation on staying together is always the better option; they both have their place. But at some point whether passively or actively and probably at several points we have to ask ourselves if we want to keep going or if the end is a better road, we can only hope the other party will feel the same.

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