My relationship just turned two years old. Yay. None of my relationships made it this far. Why? I asked Katharina why she broke up with her partner before me.

“I was done with his shit.”

My curious face: “After four years?”

Her annoyed face: “Yes, after four years. What a loser.”

Me laughing: “Why did you put up with his shit?”

We had a conversation that you might recognize. She was raised with the idea that as a woman, you need a partner. Very 80’s. Being single was frowned upon. Together is better. The weird parental interrogations about why you’re single and when you’ll have kids – stopped, every time she was in a relationship. Being single meant having arguments about it with her mother. “When I was considering to break up, I had to face the fear of becoming single at the age of 36.”

“Why did you do it?”

“You get to a point that you can’t deal with it anymore. Every thing he did annoyed the f*ck out of me. I either had to punch him in the face, or break up.”

When I really want to get to know a person, I ask about the times they got their heart broken.

And there’s levels at the heartbreak hotel. A friend of mine, from my life in the Caribbean, got divorced last month. His ex, and their two year old, moved back to her family on the other side of the Atlantic. When he told me all this, I was cringing because of the amount of pain I was imagining. He was a stay-at home dad. Now he’s going back to North America, because without his kid, his new life in the Caribbean became meaningless. Back to the roots. Recover. Realign.

The question “Why did you break up?” usually follows with a cryptic answer.

If it’s not about cheating, then it’s pretty difficult to really explain. Unless you knew from the beginning, but ignored that uncomfortable truth. As if you need justification for your intuition. This is a bit like what Katharina calls “the list” that people build up through a relationship. Like a bucket of unmentioned stuff that fills up gradually until it’s too heavy to carry. Then you get it splashed in your face, and every drop that filled it is specified.

The conversation we had brought an interesting insight. This buildup, this list, this bucket splash, is very much about mis- and non communication. If you’re tolerating your partner without letting them know, you’re building up resentment. They don’t know that their behavior is causing discomfort for you.

You are biting your tongue because of outdated programming.

If you’re annoyed by your partner, you’re doing your relationship a favor by letting them know. This way, both of you are aware of what shit you put up with. And you can talk about it, before frustrations infuse with the messenger.

Being able to talk about what you don’t like about your partner might seem like a weird thing around Valentine’s. Is it really though? Whether you are stepping in to, or out of a relationship, you need courage. Showing up vulnerable is scary. Listening to someone telling you what imperfections they notice is hard. It’s damn important to be able to listen to all that, without losing hope. That’s why I recommend a big foundation of Self Love.

Monday 14 Feb – 19.00 CET – guided group journaling and sharing

Break up for the right reasons. Make up for the right reasons. Suffering is not part of a relationship if you feel understood. Start by understanding yourself and join the Self Love Challenge.