When a Relationship Ends

11 Jun 2024

Someone close to me has just had a love affair go wrong. To have him say goodbye, even when done with tact and as gently as possible, is still devastating. My friend sought advice from me and others and, decided to do the gracious thing and say, “I’m sorry you feel like that. I enjoyed our time together. I wish you well.”

When you have finished a relationship, or when a relationship finishes with you, everything reminds you of that other person. It is a grief just as if that person had died. After all, they have died for you. I remember, when I was going through my divorce, I thought it would have been easier had my husband died, as then I would not be dealing with his rejection as well as his absence. If that sounds hard, I am sorry, but that is the way I felt. It was difficult to think of him going on, living his life with someone else, when I was so devastated by his loss.

There is a convention that, when a relationship finishes, you give back to the other person all the gifts they have given you over the course of that relationship. I’m sure flowers and chocolates don’t count, but other gifts do. If an engagement is ended, it is traditional for the girl to hand back the ring. I’m never sure exactly what the man is supposed to do with the ring; it would, after all, be insensitive in the extreme to give it to the girl to whom he next proposes!

To avoid further pain for my friend, I have offered to pack up all their former lover’s belongings and return them to him, so my friend is spared that hardship at least.

It is not just romantic relationships that go wrong. Jobs can turn sour on us, family ties can break down, friendships can be severed. In each case, we tend to carry with us physical detritus of the past which holds unhappy memories.

I think the idea of giving back to the former partner all their gifts and belongings is a good one. That way you do not have reminders every time you turn around. I am not suggesting that you make a big pile of their things in the garden and burn the lot, as not only is this undignified, but most councils have banned bonfires! A moment of hot revenge normally results in a lifetime of regret.

Lex wrote yesterday about moving in a fresh direction. He pointed out that one needs to choose a different location and group of associates, as “bad company corrupts even good character.” I would say the same locations and associates can cause more grief, unless those locations and associates are yours, give support to you, and do not belong to the other person.

We need to get rid of everything that reminds us of anger and grief so we can move forward in peace – even if in loss.


A Moodscope member

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