Is it possible for a breakup to be the last good thing you do together?
May 29, 2012 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible for a breakup to be the last good thing you do together?

My SO and I have been together for about seven and a half years. We are a great team and best friends. In the last half a year we've realized that we're growing a lot, but also apart. We still very much love each other, but we also acknowledge that what needs we fulfilled for each other when we first met aren't the needs we have now.

We're both afraid of and excited by the enormity of change in our immediate and also distant futures. She's going to move away, I'm going to stay here. We've decided to stay together until she moves. It's like we've put an expiration date on our relationship and are going to enjoy it until then.

Are amicable breakups possible? Are we crazy to think we can pull this off in the midst of splitting up our china and voiding our power of attorneys?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, when my last relationship of five years ended it was very amicable. We had no problem remaining friends (until I met my husband). We also did not have major issues like trust or infidelity, we had just grown apart as often happens in your twenties. Enjoy having your relationship change in a positive way as you become two individuals.
posted by saucysault at 10:23 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, they are. I had one last year - we just weren't a good fit and while there was never any animosity, anger, or any real issues, after two years I felt like it was time to move on.

On the other hand, while it sounds very much like the stuff of a romantic movie to stay together until she moves away, it could (probably will) complicate and possibly sour things. Dragging out the inevitable actually sounds like no fun at all to me, but if it works for you, it works for you.
posted by sm1tten at 10:39 AM on May 29, 2012

Something similar happened to me when my two-plus year relationship came to an end. We were living together and things just weren’t working out for us. She wanted to break up but I convinced her to try and work things out. After a few months, we ultimately came to the conclusion that we weren’t going to make it and I planned on moving out.

Giving our relationship an “expiration date” allowed us to enjoy the last two weeks together. In some ways it was great because there was a reason we got together in the first place and those two weeks allowed us to revisit that but it was also confusing because, hey, we’re having an amazing time but we’re also ending things forever.

So something like what you’re describing can absolutely work but stick with the “expiration date”. Don’t confuse having a good time with the last remaining days of the relationship as a sign that everything is suddenly better.
posted by Diskeater at 10:55 AM on May 29, 2012

I was with someone for seven years and had started to drift apart in the last three. We recognized the drift and worked at correcting it, but after three years of effort, we realized that we just needed to let each other go. We were both pretty sad in coming to the conclusion as it was a fantastic seven year run, but we also realized, for the sake of our friendship, that we needed to stop before any bitterness or resentment would creep in by forcing one partner or the other to stay against their will.

We both chose to move out of the large, beautiful apartment that we both had lived in for three years, and in the search for our new places, realized that we would both wind up moving into smaller one bedrooms. We had a penchant for hosting great parties and dinner gatherings, and faced up to the fact that we'd be giving this up as part of our transition.

So, we decided to have a breakup \ housecooling party. It was an opportunity for us to:

a) let all of our friends know what was going on and that it was all totally ok and nobody had to pick sides.
b) let everyone and ourselves enjoy one last party in our apartment. It wasn't their fault that we were splitting, so why deprive them of one last good time?
c) really have, as you say, a moment of "the last good things that we did together."
d) have our friends drink much of our booze so that we wouldn't have to move it.

e) we never were married, and in many ways, this was our way of expressing the love that we had shared, and, in some non-romantic ways, continue to share.

That party will have happened about a year ago to this date. It is still one of my favorite memories of our relationship, and I will feel forever grateful for having been able to end things on those terms.
posted by bl1nk at 11:15 AM on May 29, 2012 [12 favorites]

My ex-husband and I are very good friends and talk all the time - in fact, if things are going bad for one of us, the other is usually the first we turn to. This did not happen right after the split (which was as amicable as these things can be), but after about six months we found that we really needed each other as friends; in a relationship you usually know things about the other person that almost anyone else knows and talking about things with that shared knowledge is helpful. So, yes, it is possible and for things not to get confused: we've done holidays together, he's visited me and stayed and vice versa. To be honest, our relationship is so much better when there isn't all the extra tension of issues in the relationship in play; we make much better friends than partners.

There will, however, be tensions and times when you get annoyed even if you care for each other: splitting up is tough even when you're not clawing at each other and you both know this is the right thing to do. It's wise to expect those and know that it will feel tough. And it will probably be an issue with any partners you have in the future; it's hard for people not to feel jealous and think you're having if off in some torrid reunion of the exes.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:22 AM on May 29, 2012

This happened with my partner and I about 2 years ago (we were at the seven-ish year mark), but we have since reunited. I will say that I think living with someone when you know you plan to end can be incredibly depressing, and gives you far more opportunities to be subsumed by doubt and sentimentality. I'd spend as little time there as possible if I were you.
posted by hermitosis at 11:23 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

What hermitosis said and for the love of god don't sleep with anyone else or bring anyone else into the picture at all. That can turn an okay breakup into a shitshow.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:57 AM on May 29, 2012

I had a five+ year relationship end about two years ago. It happened pretty suddenly, but pretty mutually (He brought it up, and I was like "Yeah it's time.") We had the tearful breakup conversation, and then went to a tennis match we had been planning to go to for months. It was surreal but peaceful; the hard work of the breakup had been done, and we could spend a pleasant evening in each other's company one last time. I would have stayed there forever if possible, but the match ended with fireworks (How many people get to end it with fireworks?), we went home, talked and cried for a few minutes more, and he left. The breakup was the hardest thing I've ever done and it took me over a year to fully heal, but I will always be glad we decided to go to the match and have one last good time.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:13 PM on May 29, 2012

So long as you're both on the same page, communicating well, and genuinely concerned for each other's well being? Sure.
posted by davejay at 2:00 PM on May 29, 2012

Yes. It happens. All the time.

My son's father and I split (before he was born, fwiw) and we're still on the best of terms. What's the weirdest is that the day to day bullshit of our lives doesn't seem to be what I turn to him for or vice versa but he has been there through the years as I've fallen in love and then fell out or when I've got a seriously mind-bending personal crisis I'm having trouble coping with. We're not together now because it didn't work back then and granted, the stakes are higher now that there's a 7 year old impressionable child between but all this is to say that yeah, man. You can totally do it.

As another data point, I've got two friends that have a wonderful relationship after separating -- they were, no shit, the best couple I've ever seen together. But they grew apart over the years and split. I think they were both pretty broken up about it but they wanted to save the friendship and so they made it a priority and did. They're both with other people now, both incredibly happy, and both still a major part of each others lives.

Look, it's really hard to ever fall in love with someone if you don't even like them. People typically don't date others they can't at least be friends with. And all my exes were, at least at the time, my best friend. If there's a way for you to save that and you're both still clear enough in the head to pull it off, I think that's pretty g'damn wonderful.
posted by youandiandaflame at 3:31 PM on May 29, 2012

I did something like this in college and it is possible- I'm really good friends with her now, went to her wedding and I think her husband is perfect for her. She's been supportive when I've used her a a shoulder to bitch into after breakups since.

I don't know about you, but you may need some distance between each other for a little while after a breakup if there are still feelings on one side or another. There is almost always pain in a breakup, no matter how mutual. Cut the contact down to a semi-infrequent level and have a rule about not talking about your romantic life unless it is serious - after about a year with us, it was ok to talk about it.

Care packages exchanged are nice. Or books through Amazon.
posted by Hactar at 9:53 AM on May 30, 2012

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