Who Knew Love Could Hurt This Much?
It seems so unnatural to end a relationship with someone we feel love toward. We are taught that love should withstand the test of time, until death do us part, and that if you love someone, it is expected that we should make it work somehow, someway. I have seen the quote, “Love is not the only thing, it’s everything.” Is it really?
What if love isn’t enough to sustain a relationship? Maybe there are times when taking action to leave the relationship signifies a loving action more than staying in the relationship? What if what originally felt like love has morphed into codependency, familiarity, and stagnation? What if alongside love is resentment, exasperation, and negative emotional activation?
I, along with many of my patients decided to leave a loving relationship because it was stunting our growth. After being with my boyfriend of six years, we decided to get engaged. I was trying on wedding dresses when it finally hit me. I questioned whether love was truly enough. I was convinced that even though I loved him, the longevity of our relationship wasn’t very promising. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make because I loved him as much as I did. The hesitation for me, as it is for most of my patients, is “why would I break off a relationship with someone I love”, “will I find someone who loves me as much” and “I don’t want to hurt them because I love them.”
From my personal experience and through the experiences of patients, here is an open letter from a person who is ending a relationship with someone they love:
Dear Loved One,
I am the most caring person I know. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for the people I love. It feels unnatural and sadistic to hurt someone I love. I’m struggling because there are parts of me that want all-in and parts of me that want all-out. The thoughts and feelings are so complicated and at times, confusing.
I did everything for you. My love for you was unmatched for so long. You were the love of my life. I didn’t feel that reciprocated by you. You tried your very best, I noticed it, I appreciated it, but you are not capable of loving me the way I need to be loved. The love for you hasn’t changed, the change comes from me recognizing that I need to love myself more than I love you. I have grown and decided that my wants, needs, and future are worthy of me giving myself the best chance at thriving.
I know why I stayed for so long. Our relationship was familiar, comfortable, and all that I wanted to know. I tried for so long to cling to hope that you would become the person I needed you to be. I had the false idea that I can change you. That you would want to change you. You weren’t interested in being changed or in changing, for me, for you, or for anyone else.
I was afraid to lose you. I fear that there won’t be better out there for me. Sometimes you express that and make me question myself. Expressing, “Do you really think you’ll find someone out there that loves you as much as I do?” I think, why would I give up something that’s so familiar? Sometimes what is known is much more comfortable than what is unknown. I refuse to settle because of fear of the unknown. I would be selling myself short and compromising my integrity and self-respect.
I wanted so badly to see effort. Real effort, not “trying to”, “wanting to” and “will get around to it.” I realized that I was hurting myself by wasting my time. I dread that I will cause you serious pain and hurt. I never purposefully hurt those I love. In me asserting myself, I am not hurting you, the situation which was caused by you is hurting you.
I realize the pain would not be caused by me if it weren’t for your lack of ability to grow. I can’t hold myself from growing for your sake or anyone else’s. You are your own worst enemy. That’s on you and I’m not willing to take that on, as it negatively impacts me. It triggers me and brings out the worst sides of me.
I’m so sad and disappointed by our relationship ending. I never could predict this. I always imagined you being my forever. Time evolved but our relationships never did. It remained the same for all these years. I am flooded with guilt which keeps roping me back in and causes me to reconsider my decision. It also evokes confusion and worry that the guilt signifies that I am doing something wrong, and I shouldn’t disconnect from someone I love.
My biggest fear is losing your friendship. You’re my best friend. We have a real history with many memories. We went through so much together and know each other so well. Does that mean that the time just vanished, and none of it mattered? What will we make of it in the future looking back on it?
All these concerns are swarming through my mind. How could they not. I love you.