If Someone Wants To Go, Don’t Try to Make Them Stay

"Sometimes we leave, and sometimes we are left. Either way, we will be okay."

How heart wrenching is it to hear the person you love and have planned your whole future with tell you that they have decided they no longer want to continue on this journey of creating a life together with you.

It can be enough to drive someone crazy, wondering what went wrong; what did I do wrong; what’s wrong with me; what can I do to change their mind or their heart; is there someone else; why am I not good enough; I thought we were perfect together; I thought we had it all.

I pluck these thoughts straight out of a memory of this precise scenario that happened in my life. After living together for far longer than we ever probably should have my boyfriend of 1.5 years told me he didn’t want to be with me any longer. I don’t remember any other words because all I remember is retreating into my downward spiral of shame, self-pity, regret, pain, confusion and desperation.

The exact words “but we have everything together” escaped my lips between gasps of air and waves of tears as I kneeled on the floor in front of where he sat with my arms clinging to his waist fearing that if I let go he would disappear for good and that I might too. He whispered back “We have nothing together” and I felt that second story bedroom floor where we had created a years worth of memories drop out from under me, and I was consumed by the rubble.

“Home” was an hour away and I called my dad to come save me, because I could not drive my own car in the state I was in, desperate, broken and borderline insane. Insane because since the very first month of this relationship we had our uncertainties and yet we continued on in spite of the doubts and the resistance. He refused to give me everything I wanted and I fought him with a passion that could have resurrected Romeo and Juliet. “No” wasn’t an option for me, this had to work, no matter how many times it was obvious it wouldn’t.

Why was I so insistent on working something out with someone whose passion and love just didn’t reciprocate mine? Truthfully I didn’t imagine I would meet someone like him again. Someone so different from anyone else I had ever been with, who looked so good on paper and in real life. Someone whose values aligned so much with my own, or so I thought, someone who fit so perfectly into my family that even with a world population of over seven billion people there was just no way he could ever be replaced.

So I fought. That entire relationship I fought for a future with someone I just wanted to wake up to everyday while he made me jump through hoops to meet his ideal expectations of what his future with me would need to look like. Credentials, accolades, passion, perfection, all the things that looked good on paper and none of which really mattered when choosing to spend your life with someone who will be there long after the papers burn and life changes and what you truly desire is to have someone next to you who is willing to go the distance for you, without stipulations. So there I was, once again in the fight of what felt like my entire life at that moment, begging someone who wanted to leave me, to stay.

But as I got the only courage I had left in me to leave he realized I was serious. The bags were being packed and it took every ounce of strength I had ever accumulated into walking myself towards that front door. But he stopped me.

Perhaps he thought he was making a mistake, such human nature to second guess ourselves the moment that the decision we have made actually comes to fruition. He may have rehearsed this moment in his head a million times and saw himself leaving without regret, but here it was coming to life before his eyes, I was off my knees and on my feet ready to leave all of this “nothing” behind. Or at least that is what I had him believe.

Who doesn’t want to be stopped one second before slamming that front door and shattering every hope dream you ever had for that romance? So, I cancelled the convoy en route to come get me and I reluctantly stayed. Reluctance because even though that is what I thought I had wanted, the second it was in my hands I doubted everything. In the midst of despair and desperation we humans tend to do some pretty irrational things, like begging someone who wants to leave, to stay. 

In the midst of despair and desperation we humans tend to do some pretty irrational things, like begging someone who wants to leave, to stay.

This lesson came full circle for me the moment I discovered that this same boyfriend not too long after deciding to reconcile was having an emotional relationship with someone else, someone I knew, someone I trusted, dare I even say…a friend.

In yet another moment of desperation and despair I had realized that in resisting reality, in begging someone to do something they did not want to do, in manipulating a situation to work in my selfish favor regardless of whether it was meant to be or not, I had inadvertently caused my own misery and suffering.

Although his choice to create a relationship outside of what we shared, that included slandering me to said friend, was not my fault, I had a big hand in dishing out my own downfall. Yes, I could blame him, he did after all choose to stay but so did I when deep inside we both knew it wasn’t right.

Choosing to end a relationship that was once so full of hope and promise is heartbreaking no doubt. I still hold a place in my heart for him and all that we shared, whether he believed it was nothing or not. I still hold dear all of the things that made him perfect for me and that allowed us to thrive in the time we did have together. But I was able to see once all the smoke cleared how unfavorable it was, to both of us, to try to stay somewhere we didn’t belong and to ask someone who is ready to leave, to stay.

I still hold dear all of the things that made him perfect for me and that allowed us to thrive in the time we did have together.

If we are going to engage in relationships and romances with other human beings it serves us well to respect that one day the other party may not see the relationship for all it is, or was, and in their heart feel the calling to walk away despite how the other partner feels. We too have this choice that although may hurt another person by following our own heart can cause more harm to stay when we really want to go.

Sometimes we leave and sometimes we are left. Either way, we will be okay. Ebb and flow ― that is the cycle of this life and all relationships. Some come for a lifetime and some come to teach us things we need to learn. When it is our time or their time to go it serves us best to let go with grace and trust that the universe has something bigger, better and more beautiful than we could imagine in store for us, but only if we are willing to let go of what no longer belongs.

If you are having trouble releasing a relationship that is no longer serving you, whether it was your choice to end it or not, send me a message and we can chat about ways to help you let go so you can allow new beautiful things in. info@janinefournier.com