WHEN EROS ENDS, IT'S NO ONE'S FAULT

Jill Brooke, a writer and editor in chief of FirstWivesWorld.com, posted a blog on the Huffington Post entitled, "Wouldn't It Be Great If Divorces Had Concession Speeches?"

Jill writes:

"One of the remarkable aspects of our democracy is how, after a grueling presidential race, the losing candidate makes a concession speech and there is a gracious transition of power. The incoming President then acknowledges the attributes of his competitor in the Presidential race. This tradition starts the process of healing and accepting the inevitability of the outcome."
"Wouldn't that be nice in a divorce?" Jill continues. "An olive branch, a speech or a built-in-tradition where ex-husband and ex-wife vowed to make efforts to support each other in their lives ahead.I know many of my friends would have loved to hear their ex-husbands (or ex-wives) give a concession speech after their divorces. In any marriage, as in any election, there is a winner and a loser. Even in an amicable divorce, someone feels more disappointment, someone is more elated."

Well, I definitely agree with most of Jill's sentiment here, though any speech or tradition is only as good as the genuine intention behind it. After however many years of sharing love and life together in a marriage or relationship of any kind, how valuable it would be to effect an ending that was infused with harmony and a loving acknowledgment of what the relationship had been.

So why is it that so often, so many couples end their time together with strife and anger, or as Jill says, with one person feeling more disappointment and the other more elation?

This is a subject that frequently comes up in therapy sessions, of course. At one end of a typical break-up is the person who feels they've been rejected and abandoned, the one who still wanted the relationship to continue, who claims to still be in-love; at the other end is the one who feels guilty for no longer being in-love, and for wanting to leave, who may even label themselves "commitment-phobic."

But here's where I may part ways with Jill, and with some of my colleagues. While it may be true that a couple can be split on whether or not they WANT to continue in a relationship or not, it's not true that one person can be unilaterally in-love with someone who is not.

"In-love-ness," or Eros, must be mutual to survive because it is an energetic current that can only exist in a completed circuit. If the flow of Eros is not mutual, it ends. What may remain, however, is a certain level of love, and sometimes even a certain amount of sexual desire. Many couples who are no longer in-love, still love each other and still have a kind of need-based, plateaued sex life together. But that special "thing" is gone, that nostril-flaring, pupil-dilating, butterfly-inducing charge is no longer present. The conflict starts when, in such a situation, one person is willing to live without that thing, and one isn't. And it's usually the person who is more developed emotionally that can't live without Eros, but that person usually is the one who takes the heat and criticism for being selfish or lacking in commitment.

This is what leads to destructive, blame or guilt-ridden break-ups, and to the unfortunate illusion that there is a "winner" or "loser" at the end of a relationship. Why Eros ends is complicated, with multi-layered reasons, depending on many factors (a subject for another writing), but if couples could accept that it is Eros that has ended, and it's no one's "fault," it would be possible to effect an ending that could really benefit both people, and could help to integrate all the gifts that the time together offered.

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