Relationship Help Forum: Stop-Start Relationship

This Relationship blog runs a regular relationship help forum. The story below is a true one (with all identifiable details edited) taken from the forum run elsewhere. In today's story *Martha (not her real name) is experiencing an extreme case of a stop-start relationship. I know we've all been there. Here's Martha's battle, and the advice I gave her. You can see the other relationship forum stories here.

Relationship help forum: stop-start relationship

Dear Anne, My break up is a bit complicated. I ran away from home when I was a teenager to be with my ex. Things didn’t go very well because we were young and I felt guilty about running away. We were always fighting (I have a very bad temper – more so because I was racked with guilt). I went back home a year later because he broke up with me.
Then a month later, he decided he wanted me back. I took him back despite my parents saying I shouldn’t. Things got very difficult for me at home so I decided to move out and move back in with him again. My parents don’t talk to me anymore. After that it just went downhill from there. Mind you, we had a lot of very good memories, but when we fought it was bad. On our second breakup, I decided to relocate because he was moving out and leaving me with a large apartment I couldn’t afford.

Relationship doomed

He decided to follow me. So we got back together, only to break up 2 more times after - both times with him moving out. The last time he broke up with me, I thought I was going to be okay (he was still living at our apartment, because we both decided we would talk about living arrangements after our impending trip). I guess I was in denial.
Eventually I started dating this amazing guy, and ignored him. My ex said that he wanted me back, but I didn’t give in this time. I told him that I saw a pattern with the break ups. In the 6 years we were together, he broke up with me 4 times in total. So we acted as “friends” but really we weren’t, because we still loved each other and we had a trip coming up.

Anger then set in

After our trip, my ex went to Atlanta while I went to New York. My new guy went to see me there. I was really happy he was there, but I still kept thinking about my ex.
Now here’s the thing, when my ex and I got back to our apartment, that’s when it hit me. We were over this time. I was really hurt by it, I was angry. I am going through a roller coaster of emotions. He moved out this time, leaving me to pay a lot of money for our apartment. I’m moving out of the apartment in a month. I feel super depressed. I don’t have any friends because I am always at work. I don’t have the drive to do anything. I don’t really feel like eating, though I force myself to. I can’t sleep, but I have to because I get up early in the morning for work. He’s all I have known since I was 18. He was my first in everything.

Afraid of making the same mistakes again

I really do like my new guy, and we are taking it very slowly. I just want to get past this stage, but I am finding it very difficult. I’m very scared that I will make the same mistakes with my future. Bottom line is, I need to move on, but I really can’t seem to. I have already done my fair share of crying. And I am sick of it. I need to know how to move on, because I think that he already has.

My response to stop-start relationship

Dear  Martha
I can tell that even though you realise this relationship is over, you find it super difficult to give it up. This reluctance is NOT because of the relationship itself, but because of the things you had to give up in order to pursue it.
This desperation you’re now experiencing is the sadness that fills your heart because you feel that now the relationship is over, you’ve - in effect - wasted years, tears, time, and have lost your parents’ love for what? A handful of bills and nothing else.

Reclaim the things that once made you happy

When you stopped talking to your parents for this man, you expected to show them (by staying together happily) that they were wrong.
I can assure you that if you reclaim the things you’ve given up for this man you’ll begin to heal.
It’s the same as alcoholics going back to apologise to the people they’ve allowed to fall away (while married to their drinks) in order to heal.
Now I’m not saying that you’ve wronged your parents at all. What I’m saying is that you’re mourning the loss of their love. A reconciliation with them is now possible and your heart knows this. When you’ve done this you’ll feel your sadness slip away bit by bit.

Not all relationships are built to last

As I said in a previous post, not all relationships are meant to last forever. Many relationships come to a natural end after they’ve run their course. Yours seems to have done so. Cherish the good times and try to forget the bad.
This was obviously a volatile relationship which has now come to an end. It’s good that you’ve walked away before you’re scorched for good.
Contact your parents, have a long talk with them, then let me know if you’re feeling better. I’m sure this is the key to help sort out your obvious depression!
I’m glad you’ve found someone to help you move on.


Harleena Singh March 27, 2012 at 2:36 PM  

Good advice Anne!

I guess had I been in your place, I would said the same things to Martha!

Seeing her history and all that she underwent, the ups and downs, and the number of times she had her breakups and then made up to breakup yet again was sad indeed.

I guess in such a case its best to call it quits and move on with life. The sooner its done the better it is for her well being.

Thanks for sharing. :)

Anne Lyken-Garner March 27, 2012 at 6:18 PM  

Definitely, Harleena. As you said, calling time on the relationship is better for her, because she's going to have to do it later anyway.

It's better cut your suffering as soon as you can because bad relationships can sometimes make us bitter in the long-run - something that's not good for love.

farouk March 28, 2012 at 11:05 AM  

that's a wise answer
i am becoming a fan of your blog :)

Unknown April 1, 2012 at 4:32 AM  

Excellent advise. I went through something similar with my parents. Going back and clearing this up is the best way to move forward.

Wedding Planners in Calgary September 7, 2012 at 1:30 PM  

Hi Martha. I don't know whose mistake it was, but what I do know is that sometimes the one you love can't commit themselves completely to you. If you want to take things slow with the new guy it is fine, but don't be afraid to try. Thinking about the past will never make you happy. Still if you can't stop thinking about the past, then think about the possible reasons why that didn't work and try to stop such mistakes from happening again in the future.

Anne Lyken-Garner is a published author, editor and freelance writer. Her specialities include relationships and confidence building. You can find her inspirational memoir here.
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