SHOULD YOU STAY OR GO? CONSIDER THIS…
The case for calling it quits
‘Inseparable. That’s the word people used to describe me and my varsity boyfriend, John. From the moment we arrived on campus in our first year, we shared meals and went to the same parties. But by the end of that year, his constant presence felt suffocating rather than comforting.
‘We were spooning in his res room one day, when I found myself longing for my own friends and my own space. So I suggested we take a break. But John teared up, so I apologised and took it back. I’d always been told that healthy relationships take work, so I waited (and waited) for my attitude to change and to feel less restless in our super-close dynamic.
‘Three years later, John dumped me. “You’re never satisfied,” he said. He wanted to date other people. So I moved in with my friends and ended up taking my first writing class, joining a band and loving my new life. But I was furious – not at John but at myself. If I hadn’t put his feelings before my own, I could have found this joy three years earlier. Instead, I inadvertently hurt us both.
‘I learnt the hard way that the only thing worse than calling it quits is staying together too long. Rather than seeing a break-up as a failure, look at it as a thoughtful (even liberating!) choice. Sure, it’s difficult to trade the familiarity of a guy you’re comfortable with for the uncertainty of single life – but uncertainty sparks discovery. And I’ll never underestimate the potential of life on my own again.’ -ANYA GRONER
The case for sticking it out
‘All my dating life, I’d always been the cut-and-run type. I even threatened to leave an ex by opening a window and climbing down the fire escape! After a fight, my go-to move was crashing on the sofa – because it was closer to the door.
‘Then I met Dustin. With him, if I tried to set up camp on the couch post-spat, he simply – and sweetly – picked me up and carried me to bed instead. Things were great between us until a few years ago, when I started a very stressful new job. Suddenly, Dustin and I stopped talking about anything other than my work, and we fought nonstop about everything else: how little time we spent together, how much sex we weren’t having, how I never did the dishes, how he didn’t understand that my career was important to me. After these fights, I’d lie down on the couch and turn my back on him – and he’d leave me there and go into the bedroom alone. It felt like the relationship was breaking apart, and I didn’t know how to stop it.
‘“We can’t keep doing this,” Dustin said one day. Hearing those words, I was preparing to run, the way I always did. But as it turned out, the thought never occurred to Dustin, who was in it for the long haul and expected me to feel the same. “I want to be with you,” he said. “Do you want to be with me?” I had to admit that I did. “Then we have to prioritise us,” he said.
‘After that, instead of treating every work e-mail like it was an emergency, I unglued my hand from my phone and made conversation with Dustin at dinner. The fighting stopped. Our relationship reset. Had I left, we wouldn’t have got married a year and a half later or moved to a new city together six months after that. I wouldn’t be sitting here in our new house, waiting for him to come home with our favourite breakfast pancakes.’ -HELIN JUNG ■
‘The only thing worse than calling it quits is staying together too long. Rather than seeing a break-up as a failure, look at it as a thoughtful choice’