When It’s Time To Go

I recently had a partner of a trans woman ask me – and many have asked before – when it’s time to go. I didn’t have an answer, but I did want to point out that asking when it’s time to go – what straw breaks the camel’s back – is certainly not exclusive to trans partners. All sorts of people in all sorts of relationships ask this question of themselves – some for years, some for days – before they make up their minds about staying or going.

I’ve always seen relationships as more like a daily or weekly affirmation. Not that I’m not planning the long haul – I admit I’m painfully loyal – but I also like to remind myself that I’m in a relationship because I choose to be in one. I don’t have to live with another person. I don’t have to do someone else’s laundry. I choose to. I hope, in the long run, that helps me enjoy the company of my partner more.

But I’ve certainly left relationships in my past. In some there was little gray area; I’d made up my mind as to where the line was, & even if I hadn’t articulated it, I knew it the second it was crossed. But what did it? In almost every instance, looking back, what I see is a lack of engagement – not engagement as in the “we’re going to get married” kind, but engagement as in participation. I’d traveled to be with one guy a few times & when it was time for him to come hang in my court, he didn’t, and that was that. With another, it was time for a change in our relationship, a greater commitment, & he couldn’t manage it, & that was that. (& Only now, writing this, does it occur to me that I was one the one who instigated the breakup in all of my past relationships. Who knew?)

I’m curious about your own stories: when did you leave, & why? Was it after a lot of torment? A simple lack of progress? One act of betrayal?

(& I know this isn’t a pleasant topic to end the year on, but I thought it would be worse to start the year with it!)

2 Replies to “When It’s Time To Go”

  1. Hi Helen
    I was in a relationship for six years and in almost every respect I was happy. We had so much in common we shared a similar sense of humour and we had fun, our tastes in food, music, films, art was different but compatible in a contrasting way which is interesting rather than intollerant. Even my then fledgling journey into crossdressing was met with mild confusion but mainly acceptance so when was it time to go?

    Ever since the beginning of the relationship my girlfriend suffered from a problem which at first I didn’t even realise was a problem. However she was very insecure and needy and wanted to keep me in a sort of cacoon where no-one else could make me laugh or interest me for any real length of time. When I shared my frustration at this, it would end up in an argument. However this was not just an argument it was an irrational anger and frustration which led to my not being able to get a word in against a tirade of shouting in my face, this was also punctuated with swearing and totally false accusations. Eventually after hours and hours of this emotional abuse and her anger had been spent. There followed incredible remorse and guilt. As a result I would forgive her and we would move on….until the next time, eventually I came to realise after six years and this happening every two months or so that my future was to live with someone who can only get their own way or communicate with anger and persistant arguing. I tried everything, books, councilling for her, trials and different strategies but in the end it was more ruining my life than healing hers and I had this doomed feeling that in order to keep her I would have to accept this and it would always be the pattern to our life.

    One time around 2:00am in the morning after hours of being shouted at and followed from room to room I went to leave the house (as I often had no choice but to do in the end) she stood in front of my car slamming her fists on the bonnet denting it and crying and pleading for me not to leave. It was heartbreacking yet also scary and I knew it was time to go. It wasn’t easy, I loved her but it was abuse no question and I eventually I had to leave.

    I know its not exactly about transgender conflict but as you say all relationships have this question to consider and I hope my situation might offer something for others

    Helen Chapel

  2. Helen Chapel leaves a powerful comment here. When to leave…Such an interesting question. I remember a study I read in a class on the sociology of intimate relationships. In lesbian couples, the woman with more power in the relationship was the one who was less emotionally invested. Among gay men, the man with more power was the one making more money. Occasionally I wonder if my lack of success with long-term relationships is due to my tendency to keep my cards close, to try to keep the power, being aloof and playing games, versus revealing all and feeling vulnerable. It’s hard to declare your love while keeping up the cool. And I know it’s been the reason for a few of my break-ups in the past. A perceived lack of emotional engagement. Rough stuff, these relationships in life.

    This is my first time on this blog. Excellent stuff here.

    -Grad student in Madison

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