How we think we’ll break up vs. how we eventually do

Most of our fears and reasons boil down to one

Things I started considering early on across my entire history of being in relationships.

Maybe they’ll just stop loving us

I hear this is the number one fear in relationships: that the other person will wake up one day and leave.

Maybe we’ll just stop loving them

It’s funny that, for as much as we fear the other person waking up one day and leaving, we somehow never consider that we might do the same. It always seems scarier when it’s abstract; something outside of ourselves.

Just goes to show that the fear isn’t really in the relationship ending — it’s the perceived lack of control over what the other person does.

Maybe one or both of us will realize the love was never there to begin with

Maybe someone else enters the picture and that love is just “so much stronger” (ouch) or maybe we read just the right book or maybe some other catalyst happens, but one day someone realizes: this isn’t just no longer; it actually never was.

Maybe we’ll eventually realize that they’re never going to be “that guy” or “that girl”

Most commonly, for most women, the one who commits. All other shortcomings can be spared — or, in the least, complained about mercilessly with fellow married women — just so long as he puts a ring on it.

Men say women do this — try to change them; try to henpeck and make little improvements. I think men do it, too. I think we all do it.

The men I’ve dated just happened to be more subtle about it. They’ll talk about liking whatever it is they want you to be. Or they’ll talk about the benefits of whichever birth control they want you on (this really happened.)

Or maybe there is no “that guy” or “that girl” and they just want to play the field. But let’s be honest: playing the field is still a type of “that.”

Maybe they’ll find someone else

“That guy” or “that girl.” Maybe nobody in particular — maybe they’ll just want to “play the field.”

Maybe one of us will be too insecure

Happens all the time, this ending.

Maybe both of us will stack up but one of us will worry incessantly that we aren’t. Maybe that person will worry about the other’s happiness, constantly brooding over the fact that they aren’t. They’ll try endlessly, convinced that more effort will

Or maybe the insecure person puts too many needs on their partner, asking things that simply aren’t fair, demanding things they aren’t even willing to give themselves, and eventually the other person walks.

Maybe they’ll do just enough so we break up with them

A whole series of bad behavior, the final “check mate” move being to cheat — anything to avoid having to be the one who says “it’s over.”

Maybe someone will cheat

No relationship ends because of cheating. It isn’t over because they cheated. They cheated because it was over. Infidelity is an effect, not a cause.

In the end:

One or more of us won’t get our needs met

Whatever those needs are — more freedom, more commitment, more appreciation, more fun, more marriage and babies, more adventure, compromise, complementary values, similarities in religion; whatever.

Maybe one or both of us would realize we want different things — maybe one of those things is a big thing. Maybe it’s a series of little things. But either way, it’s enough to make two people part ways.

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