Venus Envy Advisory: Why do relationships end?
Welcome to our collaboration with the Leveller: their newest column focusing on sexual health and pleasure. We’ve teamed up and are providing you, our valued readership, with a forum to ask questions related to those quirks, queries, and curiosities you’ve always harboured and didn’t know whom to ask. Well, now is your chance! Please submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been reading your advice column for about a year now and I have certainly learned a lot about the nature and complexity of both the human body as well as sexual relationships. Although I am an avid reader, I had never considered sending in a question to you.
That being said, Valentine’s Day came and went and, as per usual, I found myself alone. Sure, I’ve had somewhat minor relationships throughout the year but they never seem to make it to Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed these shorter relationships and I still find myself on amicable terms with my exes but my relationships never seem to last.
In your experience, what would you say has been the overwhelming factors that lead romantic relationships to end? Perhaps I can take your sage words and reflect a little more concretely on my own life.
Feeling Reflexive on Rideau
We live in a culture that values neverending relationships. Seriously, if there is any myth about success that rivals the popularity of the ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ fairy tale, it’s the myth that romantic success means finding one person early on in life and staying with them forever.
But that’s just what it is – a myth. This is probably not news to you, but I would still urge you to take some time and think about how this myth is playing into your feelings about relationships. My guess would be that there’s at least a small part of you that’s holding yourself up to that ideal.
It’s so common for people to feel like they’ve failed at something when a relationship ends. And that’s often because we’re holding so tight to the idea that if we’d just tried harder and been better, we would have been able to make the relationship work. Even though most of us know in our heads that that’s not true, the real work is getting our hearts to know that too.
A good place to start might be to make a list of all the reasons your relationships have ended in the past. Don’t stick to only romantic relationships here – list past friendships and jobs, and make sure to include everything that ended on a good note. We have so many acceptable reasons for other kinds of relationships to end, and a lot of them boil down to growing up and moving on. Sometimes a relationship ends because it’s just time for it to end.
Hopefully once you write this out, what will start to emerge is a list where a lot of relationships have ended because you recognized that it was time to let them go, and you were brave enough to release your grip. Inevitably, there will be some relationships that have ended for more concrete reasons. If the same reasons show up again and again, you’ll know that you’ve found an issue or a pattern you might want to explore a little more.
I wish I could write you a bunch of clichés about how doing that will eventually lead you to find ‘the one,’ but I have no idea if that’s true. What it will do is help you be more self-aware, and that’s good for all of the relationships in your life. The end of a romantic relationship is almost always a gut-wrenching experience, but I think that it’s infinitely worse to stay in a relationship that makes you miserable. So invest some of your energy into finding your other passions, committing to your friendships and building a life for yourself that you love – with or without a partner.
Sam Whittle, sex educator and owner of Venus Envy