Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - LOVE LUST -

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’

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