Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Relationships Can End Without Failing

Many people have the idea that any relationship that has ended is a "failed" relationship. This comes from a mindset that the ultimate goal of the dating process is a lifelong marriage until death do you part.

But is this an accurate way to think about things? After all, when you leave a job to take another, you don't say that it was a failed job. If you move out of one house into another, you don't say the previous house was a failed home. So, why is it this way with relationships?

Emily says: Many years ago, I was married to a man for about 7 years. When we met, we were exactly what the other was looking for, and we complemented each other very well. As time went on, our lives took us on very different paths. Eventually, we got to the point where we had become very different people from the ones we were before. We wanted different things and our ideas of a relationship were very different. We had an amicable divorce, and we are now friends. I would not say our marriage failed. It just ran its course.

Emily's situation is not an uncommon one. Two hundred years ago, when people would live their whole lives within 50 miles of the place they were born, things did not change rapidly. A man might do what your father did and his sons would do what he did. Life was much more structured, rigid. Furthermore, in olden days, a woman would marry a man and become an adjunct to him. She would have an important role in his family, but, ultimately, her role was determined by his path through life.

Today, things are very different. Men and women have their own careers, and their lives take their own paths. This means that even married couples can find that they are very different people 5, 10, or 20 years later. If they break up after some time, is the marriage failed, or simply run its course?

The Successful Ended Relationship in Polyamory
The polyamorous community has a great deal of experience with ending relationships gracefully. In the polyamorous community, people tend to date within their social group, and their various partners tend to be socially connected as well. This means that a nasty breakup could cause serious repercussions through the whole social circle.

Polyamorous people also tend to have more relationships that do not focus on a lifetime commitment. They are expected to be shorter term, so, when they end, although it is painful, it is not so shocking and life changing as when a supposedly lifelong relationship comes to an end. When such a relationship ends, it is not uncommon for those involved to look back on it and say that it was successful. Sure, it ended at some point, but both partners are better for having been in it and it ended on good terms.

Some relationships certainly end in failure. The participants are harmed rather than grown by the experience. The end is considered more of an escape than a conclusion. It is finally realized that they were with the wrong people all along.

However, not every relationship that ends is a failed relationship. Some have simply run their natural course and the time to move on as come.

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