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Advice from Dr. Stanwix – Final Break

Advice from Dr. Stanwix – Final Break
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Dear Dr. Stanwix,

My girlfriend and I have broken up for the fifth (and I hope) final time. However, after four previous separations, it is difficult to tell. Somehow each time we separate it seems like the last time, but we end up getting back together.

I am not sure what prompts us to separate (or get back together, for that matter). On both counts I think it’s boredom, plain and simple. Neither of us is the most interesting person, and together we are just plain dull. However, rather than face this, we usually end up blaming each other for the ennui that is our life. I think we both want something more out of life, but we’re not sure how to get it. One thing that is sure, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to get it by staying together.

I am not sure if we reunite because we want to be with each other or, after so many years, it’s because we don’t know how to live our lives without one another. Frankly, I don’t think we are a good match. Our relationship just isn’t going anywhere. I think she feels the same way.

Can you help us make this the final break?


Final Break


Dear Final Break,

This is indeed a rare request. Usually couples seek my advice in order to get back together or help them through a difficult point in their relationship. However, if you both feel that your relationship is going nowhere, then here are a few thoughts.

Many times relationships can become a habit, one that is extremely difficult to break. A relationship is like a comfort zone we enter and become complacent in. When in this zone we usually find myriad reasons to not challenge ourselves. As long as we have the companionship of the other, whether interesting or boring, we feel justified in letting our lives idle.

If both of you feel the same way, then you both need to make this the final break up and commit to it. The best way to do this is by cutting off contact completely, at least until the temptation to get back together subsides. (Judging from your situation that may be a while).

You also need to spice up your lives on your own. Now that you can no longer use the other for an excuse, you need to challenge yourselves. Find other people to hang out with who have different interests. Make those interests, your interests. Join clubs in your area. Take up new hobbies. In short, stop being so boring!

On the other hand, you may want to ask yourselves whether your inability to make a lasting split is for reasons you don’t want to consider. You may simply be two people who were meant for and deserve each other. While you blame each other for the less-than-interesting lives you lead, perhaps that’s where the real problem lies.

Rather than breaking things off, you might want to consider reconciliation. However, this time, you must both be determined to make your lives more interesting. Why not make a list of things to do together? Look in the local paper and find out what’s going on in the arts. Take a class or take up a new hobby together. Rather than blaming each other for your boredom, you could change that blame into encouragement.

Whether you are together or apart, it seems that the main crux of your problem is your inability to lead more interesting lives. Regardless, if you separate, you will still have to face this problem. That is probably why you have gotten back together so many times in the past.

Many times it is easier to overcome obstacles with the love and encouragement of someone close to you. Perhaps if you both truly commit to a new life full of wonder and surprises, you can achieve your goal better if you stay together instead of going it alone. And if you don’t succeed at that, you will always have each other. Given the amount of truly lonely people in this world, that’s not such a bad consolation prize.

Best of luck,

Dr. Michael Stanwix

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