In Search Of Certainty
As the cliché generalizes so succinctly, breaking up is hard to do. Especially when you don’t know if it’s the right decision….
I would like to announce that I just experienced the most civil breakup in the annals of breakups. Seriously, if Gandhi and Mother Theresa had been an estranged couple, they wouldn’t have done a better job. It was a mutual decision, we both knew it was probably inevitable (even though neither of us wanted to admit it for some time), and we parted ways with the promise that we wouldn’t lose touch with each other. No bitterness. No hurt feelings. Nothing bad to say about each other. No sense of rejection or betrayal.
Of course not. The breakup was still an agonizing, gut-wrenching decision. Because, when it came to making that decision, we didn’t have a reason to break up… or a tangible one, anyway.
The truth is, we got along incredibly well. In the two-and-a-half years that we were involved, we had our tiffs, but they were usually about trivial matters, and we saw eye-to-eye on all the “big issues.” We came from similar social and educational backgrounds, we shared the same political values, our views on religion meshed, we both wanted children, and so on down the unspoken checklist. Her family loved me, and my family loved her. (Well, okay… my mom was more or less ambivalent, but, for my mom, “ambivalent” was definitely good.) My younger sister recently called her the sister she never had, and her dad remains my partner in a business venture. On paper, we were a perfect couple, and all of our mutual friends believed we were good for each other.
And yet, after two-and-a-half years together, neither of us felt ready to commit. We loved each other—there was no doubt of that. But, I just didn’t know if she was the One for me. Likewise, she just didn’t know if I was the One for her.
And that’s where the agony and wrenches to the gut struck. Shouldn’t we have known—or have some inkling—after two-and-a-half years? Were we just being idealistic and wanting something perfect? Or were we being perfectionistic and wanting something non-existent?
Sometimes, I wonder if we place too much faith in the dangerous duo of Hollywood and fairy tales… where we’re told that, somewhere along the way, we just know. That, at some point, we will experience that Moment and realize that this is the person we want to be with for the rest of our lives.
Well, neither of us ever experienced that moment of clarity. And, sadly, we were starting to wonder if we ever would. We searched for that Moment. Maybe we even tried to manufacture it with romantic gestures and affection. We held each other and looked into each other’s eyes, as we would if we were in a Hollywood fairy tale. And… we saw someone who made us happy, someone we shared plenty of fun times and laughter with, and someone we truly cared about. But, we never saw the one we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with.
The relationship was wonderful, and I don’t think I’ll ever have anything bad to say about her (well, aside from that neurotic dog of hers… but hey, I still love and will dearly miss that dog, neuroses and all). And yet, something was missing.
So, we decided to give up something great in the hopes of finding something perfect. We decided to give up the uncertainty of a beautiful relationship, so that we could find the certainty of the ideal relationship.
Because, to quote another cliché, it just didn’t feel right. And it needs to feel right. Right?
Speaking of right… tell me that we’re doing the right thing?
The best advice I ever got from my mother about relationships was that you should first make your decision, and then make it the right one. Good luck 🙂
DX3: you did the right thing …
Thanks, TOM. I appreciate the support. 🙂
I just went through a similar situation. Its nice to know other people have gone through the similar experiences and are dealing with the same feelings of doubt and hurt, but overall knowing its the right decision. its tough to let something good go…but i guess sometimes you have to let go to find whats right
I just gotta say, there are only 2 guarantees in any relationship: you will either break up or spend the rest of your lives together. So you have to enjoy your relationships not worrying about the outcome. But it’s true- if you don’t see yourself spending the rest of your life with someone (and let’s face it why waste time?) then it’s time to move on and allow an opening for your next possible soul mate!!
Oh, and Dennis: don’t worry. When you know, you know.
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Thanks, folks. It’s nice to know that others have gone through the same thing. This all would be so much easier if love could be described in… well… hmm, okay, binary code.
The relationship either worked or it didn’t. None of this hazy gray-area stuff. 🙂
I felt terrible after I dumped (or made them dump me, heh) perfectly decent guys. There wasn’t anything WRONG with them, but there was something missing. When I did meet my guy who I married there was something else there. I can’t explain it better than that.
But I’m in the “hopeless romantic” camp. Take it with salt!
Oh yeah, I’m definitely in the hopeless romantic camp, too. I just wonder sometimes if I’m being *too* idealistic in wanting everything to be perfect. I guess your story gives me hope that I’m not….
With my boyfriend of five years, I just KNEW. The day I met him, I knew. I was dating someone else, as was he, but the immediate reaction was that this was the man I was supposed to be with. We just clicked in every way possible. Within a year we were both single, and we were together all the time, it was just a natural, magical evolution for us. Five years later, we still have the same intense attraction and affection for each other, and it still feels magical.
You wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t right. Do you still talk to her.
Thanks for the comments.
@Amuu: I totally agree about “just knowing.” What I worry about, though, is the rampant second-guessing that I know I’m capable of. Are you familiar with the idea of buyer’s remorse? Well, I know that some people suffer from it more than others. I’m one of those people. And I sometimes wonder if I approach relationships the same way….
@Moscar: Yup. Interestingly, we’re going out to dinner tonight (as friends). We do once every few weeks. And it’s actually working out (again, as friends).
Went through something like this a couple years ago, and there were times when I wasn’t with anyone I’d find myself lying in bed thinking about her, wondering if I’d let something amazing go, if I’d missed out on my one shot because I wasn’t sure if she was the One. Then after a few days of moping, a few dozen bags of Cheetos, and a few pints of Ben and Jerry’s, I’d peel myself off the couch, wiping the orange crusted shame off on my pajamas attempting not to trip in the graveyard of empty Chunky Monkey containers, I’d go out and have fun. Well one day I found myself at a bookstore reading a copy of World War Z, I happened to look up and saw an amazing blonde reading the same book. I struck up a conversation and she ended up agreeing to go out with me and we had an amazing time, so we went out again and again. That was three years ago this May, and we’ve been happily married for 8 months. And let me tell you brother, I knew after the first night that she was the One.
Wow, thanks for sharing. That’s a great story! And I loved the line, “orange crusted shame.” 🙂