The Fear of Ending a Relationship

Some of us live in such dread of ending a relationship, we’d rather sacrifice our chances of long-term happiness rather than endure a tricky few hours. But the discomfort of endings can be overcome once we understand that ending a relationship doesn’t have to mean ruining things for a partner, it can actually mean saving their lives.
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“Let us imagine that we know what we want – to leave a relationship – but that we are suffering from a problem which inhibits us from acting on our wishes: we can’t bear to cause another person pain, especially another person towards whom we feel a sense of loyalty, who has been kind to us, who looks up to us for their safety and their future, who has expectations of us and with whom we might have been planning a trip to another continent in a few months. Perhaps we have come near to telling them on a dozen occasions, but always pulled back at the last moment. We tell ourselves that we’ll get around to it ‘after the holidays’, ‘once their birthday party is over’, ‘next year’, ‘in the morning’, and yet the deadlines roll by and we are still here…”


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Produced in collaboration with:

Natalia Biegaj

Title animation produced in collaboration with

Vale Productions


40 thoughts on “The Fear of Ending a Relationship”

  1. I need help. I'm exactly this person but with the second explanation – that to a two year old it could seem that the adult could murder them. The only thing was in my childhood my parents went one step further and actually physically hurt and abused me. Beat me senceless.. So I DO have the fear that if I anger someone ENOUGH they Would and WILL actually go into a fist fight with me beating me senseless because I am physically helpless just as i was a young child.. I can't shake that feeling off… of people being capable of actual murder..

  2. I’m a big fan of Mr. Botton’s work, and though there is a lot of value in this, it also partakes a bit of the binary on-off switches to relationships popularized by romanticism with its typical idealization followed by devaluation. One formerly idealized person that somehow became “wrong” is now discarded – perhaps to make from for a new “right”. That is until this new person becomes “wrong”. This is the cycle of serial monogamy where people are cycled from angels or near gods to the scum of the earth – and it’s an accepted though very violent interpersonal approach. Just watch the Bachelor or any romantic movie if you aren’t familiar with this.

    Options of partial de-escalation of a relationship that partially but not wholly works aren’t mentioned here. Yes – it sometimes does come to this , but I don’t think things are always this simple.

  3. If I could go back in time… I wouldn't choose to be with a person that destroyed me and my life. If I could go back in time, I would never choose to stay with him. Just want to say… be with someone that will undersand you, that will love you no matter what. Someone that won't be "tired" or "sick" to talk with you… be careful. You don't have to ruin yourself for others.

  4. I've never been in a romantic relationship (fear of intimacy) but I have this one friend whom I purposefully haven't spoken with for over two years…I've dropped hints that I dont feel we get on anymore (she tends to only talk about herself and always steers the conversation in her direction even when I've needed a shoulder for something difficult ) so I've tried distancing myself because she just saps the energy out of me. but she always tags me in posts that I'm her best friend even though we never talk anymore. And I feel like we're the farthest thing from a best friend. It's so awkward I wish we could just drift apart naturally. It's normal to outgrow some friends right? But she won't let me outgrow her. I just want her to leave me alone. 🙁

  5. When I broke up with my ex, I was kinda scared of her reaction. She got angry and insulting, which got me to get over it quite quickly bc I can't feel attached to someone who's disrepectful towards "loved ones"

  6. What if it's too late the damage is done on a bad breakdown/breakup because we waited too long to break up and then it finally hit the fan…? In other words this video is accurate

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