50 ways to leave your lover

Just get on the bus, Gus, no need to fuss much, just set yourself free.

Those are the words from the song ’50 ways to leave your lover’. It’s just not as simple as that, though, is it? Two very close friends of mine are both going through break ups at the moment. And it’s tough. It doesn’t matter that they are both the ones leaving – there is still love there.

I wonder why it’s so hard to leave. The guilt, the angst, the silly belief that your leaving will completely destroy the other person. It’s hard to be left, we all know that. The rejection, the pain of not being wanted anymore is overwhelming at the very least.

But leaving? That’s harder sometimes. We all want to be liked and when you’re the one leaving, no matter what the circumstances, you end up being the bad guy. Or the person did that terrible thing that made you leave because you failed somehow. We beat ourselves up so much that sometimes leaving is harder than staying in an untenable situation.

But then, you do need to ask yourself who you think you are. Who are you to be so intrinsically important to another that they won’t last a day without you? Sometimes leaving is the best thing for them. It certainly is if you don’t love them as much as they could be loved.

I’ve left a few times and tried various different ways of doing it. Once, I set a date – a month from then. I tried to convince my lover that we should have a month of celebrating our love, but then part ways amicably in the knowledge that we just weren’t meant to be together. That didn’t work out at all and in fact ended with me physically throwing all his stuff out onto the lawn. Not a pretty sight.

I’ve also tried the slow ending. Prolonging the agony. It’s a bit like trying to give up an addiction by cutting down – it simply doesn’t work.

One relatively successful escape was when I simply moved out while he was at work. I took everything except the phone, no note and no forwarding address. It took him two weeks to find me. And a further two years to properly end the relationship. So, success was fleeting with that move.

I think perhaps that’s why people have affairs. Not because they particularly want to be with that other person, but because they want the person they’re really with to find out. It creates a line in the sand, a cutting off point. It makes a statement that’s too scary to make. The one that says, ‘I just don’t want to be with you anymore.’ It really is a case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ – but that’s too lame. So we try and try to come up with good reasons why we want to go.

It’s so very sad that where there was once love, bitterness and anger creeps in. It’s rare to find a couple who mutually agree and are happy to part ways. I guess, though, if it were easy, then commitment wouldn’t mean as much, we wouldn’t ever make that last ditch effort to try – because sometimes that last ditch effort is the thing that fixes it.

In the end, its honesty that counts, though. Being honest with yourself firstly about the reasons you want to leave, being honest about the things you’ll miss and really understanding them. And then being honest with your person – there’s no letting them down easy. Leaving is hard – even when you think it’s the only choice you have.

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