Drama. Deceit. Devastation. It's not just reality TV, it's the reality that most of us experience when we end a relationship, because we don't and won't leave our mate until we reach the point of hating, hurting and hardly speaking. Like a pit bull gripping its most beloved doggie toy, we believe that if we feel any love at all for this person, we must stay, fight and make the relationship work. And only when we think that love is gone, do we concede and dive head first into the despair of an ugly, hurtful, messy divorce.
We will walk on coals to keep our relationship alive, whatever it takes, no matter if we are happy or this person is the best partner for our lives. If you love each other you must stay and make it work or keep trying until things get so bad that you can justify the ending -- no matter how lonely, exhausted or unhappy -- right? Wrong!
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This crazy line of thinking has kept people stuck in wrong relationships and suffering through bad marriages for way too long. Even when we know this person will never be the partner we desire, or that we are no longer the best fit, we hang around because we "love them." But love should never require sacrificing yourself or forfeiting your joy or life dreams.
You can love a person and choose not to be with them. Love is not enough of a reason to stay in a relationship.
I figured this out the hard way, after the drama-filled ending of my 15-year relationship, which took the storyline of my fiancé announcing on the car ride to our engagement party, "I don't love you anymore. I don't want to marry you anymore. And, oh by the way, I've been cheating on you for six months." Drama.
Devastation. And ouch!
Years later, I realized that the drama and deceit that we created could have been avoided if I had only known: 1) The truth about love and 2) The simple but smart rules to ending a relationship with dignity, grace and love. Yes the split would have hurt, but nowhere near as bad.
#1 LIE: You shouldn't split up until you've fallen out of love.
TRUTH: Once you love someone, you'll love them forever. People don't fall in and out of love, as if love can be measured. People fall out of trust, intimacy, and respect, not love.
LOVE RULE: During a divorce, take "love" out of the equation.
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Eradicate sayings like "I love you, but I'm not in love with you," or "I just love you differently," or "I am in love with someone else." These words are such a cop out. There is no ownership, real feeling or honesty. There is no way to respond. They just cause unnecessary massive hurt. Be honest with your ex or soon to be ex about the real "why's" this relationship is no longer working, which have nothing to do with love or anyone else. It's okay to love each other and still choose to end your relationship, in fact it's the best way. While the split will still be sad, it doesn't have to be dramatic or deceitful.
#2 LIE : If we loved each other more, we would be able to make this relationship work.