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Love and Relationship: Break up Rules of Engagement

I have often thought about love in bright colours, like the sun emerging at dawn, a contrast of emotions… always a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, as with many things in life, a thing can be beautiful until one day it is not. It can be present, until one day it is gone. Love, as sometimes peddled by humans is much like this. It is like the sun rising at dawn only to set again at dusk. It is like the birth of something living, blossoming until it stretches to the full stature of its potential, then shrinking into the frailty of age and time, until it dies.

Yes. Love can, and very often, dies. This understanding has been the greatest shaking of my adult life, the jesting of my deepest convictions: it is a question, loud in my mind, a constant why? how? where did it go wrong?! Yet, the thing about the death of love is that, we are either at the mercy of grief, nursing our loss, or, we are at the other side of the spectrum, wielding the knife that snuffs love out, jabbing furiously until the thing we created draws its last breath.

What I am trying to say, perhaps in way too many sentences is that quite often, love does not last and many relationships which take off on a gust of possibilities come to a crashing end. This can either be tragedy or blessing, depending on whether you are walking away or being left behind. It can also be a necessary thing in the sense that some people’s presence in your life have been defined by a time span. Forget how cheesy that sounds, when the time comes to let them go, you should be willing to open your hands and release them to the rest of their lives. In other words, break ups may hurt but they can also be necessary.

So today, I write to those entangled in relationships they are no longer interested in, those who once held love, but let it slip. I want to say first that it’s okay. You have the right to walk away. Don’t let anyone guilt trip you into staying. If your heart is no longer there, do this favour to both of you. Leave before it becomes serious; or permanent. But don’t leave stupidly. Don’t take a thing that was once beautiful and turn it ugly. Be human. Be kind!

But if you still don’t know what I am on about, I have listed, quite in-exhaustively, 4 unwritten rules of  handling break ups.

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  1. A wise man once said ‘if you must walk away, don’t slam the door because you never know when you will need to walk in through that same door.’ The words continue to echo in my head, almost alarming with how potent it is, how relevant and true. I will put it in my words. Ask yourself if you have handled the breakup in a way that allows, in the very least some cordiality in the future. Don’t leave in anger or blind rage. People will spend years with you but will remember you strongest by who you were at the time you walked away. Don’t damage that. Life is too short and the world, too small. You may need this person someday. Go your separate ways, but as much as you can, resolve issues, part amicably.
  2. Don’t manipulate circumstances. I once had a conversation with a guy who was never able to walk away from his girlfriends. To him, the confrontations were too painful. So he opted for cheating and getting caught. That way, he gave the girls their reason to walk away. I’m not entirely sure how that is working for him these days, but I know that if you are with a person you want to leave, it is better to give them the gift of releasing them first. No matter how resistant they are, release them first before finding a replacement. Not just for their sake but for that of the next person you want to date; for the sake of not starting off on a lie.
  3. Don’t be insensitive. I once broke up with a person via text message, on the day of his final exams. I have my list of many regrets, but this ranks arguably as the most insensitive. I was young and foolish but somehow I was lucky enough to remain friends with the person. I’m not saying put your life on hold to fit into another’s calendar, just saying show a little consideration. It is certainly not good judgement to walk away when the person is ill or has just lost a job. Also, try to be at least present with your breakup. Don’t suddenly disappear. Don’t send a text message. Do it over a thorough detailed conversation. It helps bring closure. It might even earn you their respect.
  4.  Finally, be honest. Be willing to truthfully answer the why’s, even if that why is that you met someone else. Don’t pretend you still have feelings when you do not. The last gift you can give a person you are leaving is the truth.
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