No one is an advocate for breaking up – except, of course, relationship counselors, divorce lawyers, and country western singers who are looking for new material. But, sometimes, breaking up can actually help save a relationship and even make it stronger than it was before.
This isn’t to say that people in a happy, stable relationship should throw in the towel, giving their jilted ex my contact information as they do. Relationships that are working well should continue to do just that: work well.
But, relationships that have ended or relationships that are headed in that direction can actually benefit from a little time apart. To demonstrate this, let’s consider three scenarios:
Defeated Dave and Apathetic Amy: Dave and Amy have been in a relationship for five years. Dave works as an accountant and spends his days calculating the last time he and Amy had sex (it’s been 8 months now). Dave’s heart is hurting and his hand is cramped (8 months!). Amy works as a bank manager and spends her days telling her coworkers that her life is unexciting. She finds herself lying awake at night, annoyed by Dave’s breathing (once or twice she’s considered smothering him with her pillow). Dave and Amy have each thought about leaving, but they aren’t always unhappy. They give their relationship a five out of ten and assume that that’s pretty okay.
Doormat Matt and Bossy Betty: Matt is a doormat, so lacking in a backbone he could be mistaken for an invertebrate. Betty, on the other hand, has so much of a backbone she could be mistaken for Quasimoto. This causes Betty to get on Matt’s case about everything: his choice of clothes, the way he parts his hair, his desire to watch a baseball game on Sunday afternoon. Betty bosses Matt around endlessly, but Matt’s not one for conflict: watching the movie 12 Angry Men practically propels him into a panic attack. So, he assuages Betty’s demands with the words she wants to here: “yes, dear.” Matt and Betty will end up staying together forever: Matt lacks the ability to leave, and Betty enjoys always getting her way.