When Love Is Not Enough

When Love Is Not Enough

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 mates 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 our mate, we must stay, fight and make the relationship work. And only when we think that love is gone do we concede and dive headfirst into the despair of the bad breakup.

Women and men have been doing it for centuries. Walking on coals, swallowing swords, whatever it takes, because love is supposed to conquer all. No matter if you are happy or if this person is actually the best partner for your life. 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. Right? Wrong!

This crazy line of thinking has kept us stuck in relationships and suffering through bad breakups for way too long, telling ourselves, "If I love this person, and they love me, that's enough, no matter how exhausted, unhappy or lonely I feel." Even if we know our mate will never be a true partner, we hang around because we love them. But love should never require sacrificing one's self or forfeiting ones joy or life dreams. And frankly, it's not enough, because the truth is: You can love a person and choose not to be with him. Love is not enough of a reason to stay in a relationship.

Like most women, I figured this out the hard way, when my fiancé announced 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! After the sting of having my heart broken, and with enough distance to clearly see what had actually happened, I realized that my bad breakup would have been totally avoidable if I someone had clued me in to the truth that even though you love a person, it doesn't mean you should marry him.

Alas, the women in my life had failed to teach me this, along with other key facts of love and relationships. The truth is, if I had known the truth instead of buying into the fairy tales, I would have been the one to end my relationship and leave my former fiancé way before the situation ever got to the point of drama and devastation. We could have had a good breakup, and I could have avoided a lot of the hate, confusion and suffering that sent my life reeling for months and months afterwards.

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You can't afford not to trade the love lies in for the real relationship truths. Because when you find yourself in a relationship that has run its course, it's far better to be able to make an empowered and healthy choice than to end up a victim to the drama, deceit and devastation of a bad breakup.

Lie: You shouldn't break up until you've fallen out of love.
Truth: Once you love someone, you love them forever. People fall out of trust, intimacy and respect, not love.
"I love you, but I'm not in love with you." How many of us have either heard or uttered those words as we walked headfirst into a bad breakup? Those words are such a cop-out. People don't fall in and out of love, as if love can be measured. What they do fall out of is trust, intimacy and respect, and usually for good reasons. But those reasons never get communicated to our partners, because we end up using cop-out phrases like "I'm just not in love with you any more." When someone tells you they just aren't in love with you anymore, there's really nothing you can do about it, and you're left feeling confused and just plain awful.
Good Breakup Rule: During a breakup, take love out of the equation. Be honest about the real reasons this relationship is no longer working. It's okay to love each other and still choose to end your relationship; in fact, it's the best way. And while the breakup will still be sad, it won't be dramatic or deceitful.

Lie: If we loved each other more, we would be able to make this relationship work.
Truth: Love is only a prerequisite. Great relationships take authentic partnerships, and they require much more than love.
When we get asked why we want to marry or be with someone, most of us retort almost automatically, "Because I love them." While it sounds like the right answer, it's actually a danger signal that you've created a relationship based on ideal love versus the authentic partnership actually required for long-term happiness and relationship success. Authentic partnerships are full of respect, trust, truth, friendship, intimacy and unconditional love. And you've got to put energy into each of these to keep your relationship working for you.
Good Breakup Rule: Be honest about what your relationship lacks, and what the two of you are capable of creating together. Assess on a scale of 1-10 how well your relationship scores on the each of the six indicators of an authentic partnership: respect, trust, truth, friendship, intimacy and unconditional love. If you score less than an 8 any individual indicator, you have some work and soul searching to do. Get real and ask yourself, "Can this relationship and the people in it create a deep level of [insert indicator]?" If the answer is no, it could be time to start a good breakup. If the answer is yes, it's time to talk with your partner and start creating the relationship you really want, together.

Lie: If the relationship ends, we have failed.
Truth: The failure is overstaying in a relationship.
Good Breakup Rule: Be honest with yourself and with each other when it becomes obvious that it's time to end your romantic relationship. Talk to each other instead of resorting to behaviors that cause drama, deceit and devastation. Your goal is NOT to become the next reality TV show, but to use the power of unconditional love and respect (that you hopefully started the relationship with) to gracefully transition out of this romantic relationship. Remember, you both want the best for each other, don't you?