When a relationship is in trouble, people try to fix it by communicating more, spending more time together, identifying problems, and implementing solutions. Some people call off D/s, others renew their focus on D/s, and in general, they try to remember what make the relationship work in the first place.
Sometimes relationships can’t be fixed — people grow apart, argue, and lose interest. For one reason or another, all relationships end.
Don’t worry… J and I are fine. :)
While our relationship is pretty good, the inevitable break up is something I’ve thought a lot about. Like most relationships, we’ve had our share of problems and being in a “driving distance” relationship complicates things. Besides that, J and I share similar thoughts about the durability of relationships (I’m not interested in finding a forever-partner) so we both understand our relationship will likely end at some point.
Thinking about the end isn’t fun, but in a way, it’s helped me to hope for the best and plan for the worst. In planning for the worst, we have two “breakup rules.” While they probably won’t end up saving a relationship that’s irreparably broken, they still make me feel more secure about the relationship we have now.
Breakup Rule #1: J isn’t allowed to break up with me
Yep. That’s what I said. J can’t break up with me — He’s not allowed. I’m the only one who can break things off. Since I have final say in our relationship, I also have final say in when it’s over.
We’ve actually used this one. More than a year ago, J wanted to end the relationship because of a minor mistake he made. I said “no.” He was wrong to want to end it over something so minor and easily fixed, and I was right to say no.
Of course, because there is a possibility for more serious issues and because there are two people in the relationship, I realize the rule is symbolic more than it is functional — it exists only in theory. In practice, if J “checks out” of the relationship, then it’s over — it’s not possible to have a relationship with someone who doesn’t choose to have a relationship with me.
Besides that, I realize the rule isn’t really enforceable. If J is so unhappy that he wants out, I couldn’t force him to stay in the relationship even if I wanted to. If the relationship deteriorates to such a degree that one of us is that unhappy, chances are the relationship is over anyway.
But if we do have serious problems, it buys me time to think things through and figure out we might fix what’s broken. If the relationship is beyond repair, it gives me time to come to terms with the inevitable and gives me the symbolic power to dictate the terms of our demise. However symbolic it may be, that measure of control is comforting to me.
Breakup Rule #2: The 72 hour retraction window
Should I choose to end the relationship, I have a 72 hour window in which I can “take it back.” Essentially, as long as it’s within three days of breaking it off, I can issue a retraction.
We haven’t used this one yet, but it came about because I did break up with J once about a year ago. I got upset with him over a difference of opinion and what I read his as insensitivity toward my position. It was silly thing to have argued about. Although the issue was very important to me, the details didn’t affect either one of us.
Within 24 hours of breaking up with J, I realized I had overreacted. Telling him it was over was a mistake.
I wanted to take it back, but I wasn’t sure how to do that without invalidating my feelings. Besides that, I’d like to think that I’m a rational person who doesn’t let my emotions get the best of me. Admitting that I had acted irrationally was difficult for me (damn my pride), but I did it anyway. I swallowed my pride and apologized. It was the the right thing to do, but it was also a terrible blow to my ego.
After we talked it over and made up, I told J that we should have a “retraction window” if I ever end up doing the same thing again. While I was half-joking, we both realized it was a good idea. Now, if I ever find myself so irrational as to break things off without thinking it through, I have 72 hours to take it back.
I know the the breakup rules are a bit silly — the first is symbolic and unenforceable, and the second exists only to mediate my potential immaturity. But they do serve a valuable purpose in helping me feel confident and in control. For that reason, maybe they aren’t so silly after all.