When it's time to say goodbye - really.

When it's time to say goodbye - really.

You both care deeply about each other, but something's not quite right. Neither of you wants to end the relationship, but for some reason one or both of you aren't quite getting your needs met.

It could be that one of you wants more than the other can give, it could be due to a long distance relationship, or it could be that one of you wants to change the other. There are many things that can disrupt a really good relationship, but once this disruption occurs, it's not easily forgotten, unless things do change.

This kind of situation is a painful and upsetting experience for both. I've been on this merry go round three times, and each time I didn't try and get off because I didn't want to deal with the pain it was going to cause me. Especially when the rest of the relationship was going so well. But the longer you stay on this roundabout the more it ends up hurting.

Recently I had the same thing happen again, we were both happy being together, but he never had time to see me due to his work hours. I understood that this problem was not going to go away. And for once I took control. As much as I loved being with this man, I wasn't going to compromise my life, or who I was, as well as waiting and hoping that things would become better. So I took the long road. I walked. I did it calmly, rationally, and with dignity (well there were a few tears spilt, but I wasn't hysterical, so I think that's acceptable). There were no fights, no arguments, just a felling of sadness from both parties.

This is the first time I have tackled a great, but just not quite right relationship this way. It was difficult walking out of the door once I had made up my mind (I have to admit, the first time I brought it up and said it was over, I drove straight back to his house). But a week later when we were having dinner 'as friends', I found myself kissing him passionately in a restaurant. We went back to his house, watched a movie like old times, while he kept telling me he liked this "spending time together broken up".

I realized it was bordering ridiculous. How many times was I going to drag out the inevitable? I almost stayed the night, when somehow from somewhere, this common sense, which I'd never experienced before said "get out of here now, this could go on for months, 'pretending' that we're not together when we were." Somehow I managed the strength to stand up, walk down the stairs and say goodbye. It hurt, and it was hard. But once in the car driving home, I knew I had made the right decision. I felt sad, yet strong and empowered. I knew I wouldn't allow myself to be put in that situation again.

What amazed me the most, this action had taken me ten years to learn. I think that's why I was finally able to do it. At 28 years of age, I really don't have the time to muck about in a relationship that was not meeting my needs. By this age I really should have learnt a few things, such as the saying "If nothing changes, nothing changes". I guess it was ME that had eventually developed an enormous amount of self-respect when it came to men. I was no longer going to be the one who just couldn't let go when I knew it wasn't going to work, even when things were near to perfect. If the imperfection in the relationship is bothering you a lot, near to perfect is not good enough. When you go back for more, (and more and more) the heartache becomes unbearable. And I felt I couldn't do it to myself again.

So the moral of this story girls, is don't be second best, don't let a relationship take over your whole world, when you know the best thing to do is walk away, even if you believe that this man is your soul mate. If he is, then I strongly believe your turn will come around again, once you've both grown. But never, I repeat never place yourself in a relationship where you are not satisfied and are compromising your own needs (although, make sure your expectations are realistic).

This time round, as much as I still hurt, I feel strong. I haven't gone back crying on his doorstep, telling him I'd made the wrong decision (only to end it a week later). Remember the saying your Mum always said "If you love something, set it free, if it comes back it's yours, if it doesn't it never was". That saying use to annoy the hell out of me, now it just makes me smile. You never know what's around the corner, and it's best not to sneak a peek, because the unexpected could be amazing, and isn't the element of surprise the best part?

- Louise Ganey