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The older one gets (if you haven't been married the whole time), the more one learns about how romantic relationships are ended.

PREPARE FOR THE END AT THE BEGINNING: The first order of business is to prepare for a relationship to end at the very beginning. This is best accomplished by finding a really good therapist and getting a prescription for Paxil, Prosac or some other effective anti-depressant.

Relationships end for lots of reasons. But one common reason is one person just isn't as committed to the idea of what might turn out to be a life-time commitment. The more serious the relationship becomes, the more scared that person becomes of the relationship. On balance, they would rather live a life of shallow, meaningless relationships than to truly and unconditionally love another person, with all the risks associated therewith.

You might get a forewarning of this when the person tells you of all their wild and crazy escapades, driving off alone to Montana on a whim, and tout their independence as their number one virtue.

SPOT THE BEGINNING OF THE END: An astute observer can spot the beginning of the end of a relationship with a person who wants to run away. This observer is usually not the other person in the relationship.

Questions start getting asked, like "do you still love so and so?" (your previous significant other). This question is asked in the hope that you'll realize you really do still love the other person and leave the current person.

If it is clear you have no feelings for a previous lover, then you'll find you're being advised of potential new lovers by your current lover. Pay attention, as this will come in handy later.

THE ESCALATION OF THE END: If this doesn't work, then all of a sudden little things that didn't matter suddenly matter. You snore too much. You talk too much. Suddenly you'll find yourself accumulating a list of "problems" the other person has with you.

You literally go from a situation where the two of you were virtually soul mates to not being able to sleep in the same bed.

ASSIGNING THE BLAME: If you don't catch on at this point and head for the hills, the next phase is creating the blame.

A person who wants to end a relationship is rarely willing to admit "I want to end the relationship because I just don't want to get that serious about things." This might be viewed as a fault of that person. Thus, the person wanting to end the relationship has got to figure out how to end it while placing the blame on the other person.

For the person thinking they are in a serious, committed relationship, this phase usually comes as a rude awakening. All of a sudden you are doing major things wrong which piss off the other person. You might argue "hey, you're over-reacting". The response will invariably be "my feelings are real." What is happening if the other person is "Making The List" of why the relationship must end because you're an insensitive rat.

THE BREAKING POINT: Finally, some event will occur which is the "breaking point". This is the point at which the person exits your life, telling you its all your fault they left in a huff. Often you will be stunned and puzzled, because you had no idea.

This is the point where it is wise to avoid getting angry.

Getting angry is worthless and destructive. Hurting the other person because they hurt you will never get you into Heaven.

Just realize that it wasn't the right time for the relationship to go forward, and the other person needed to get out, even if they blamed you for their departure. If you really love the other person, and the relationship was really good, they might actually realize that later on and come back (though this has never happened in our experience).

This is when you go to the therapist you've thoughtfully held in reserve, start taking an anti-depressant, and get laid as soon as you can.

NOTE: Once you are in therapy, it will likely be the case that you were just as guilty of ending the relationship as the other person. Be ready to accept responsibility.



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Copyright 1998-2006 by Hugh Holub