Love Isn’t Enough (and Other Lessons from Ending a 6-Year Relationship)

“Some people think that it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go.” ~Unknown

Sometimes we prolong relationships for the sake of comfort and familiarity. We’re fearful of what’s out there, and life without a partner. No matter how many times we’ve been hurt, taken for granted, or had our needs neglected, we still choose to stay even if our mind and heart strongly suggest otherwise.

I thought I was strong for putting up with my ex’s mistreatment. I had held the ability to forgive in high regard, and I wanted to keep that standard.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve been dumped fifty times by the same person, yet I put my happiness aside for them. I can’t even count the number of nights I cried myself to sleep. Even in the shower, I found myself taking longer than I used to because I shed my tears there, where nobody would find out.

The worst part was when I could no longer fully express my feelings to other people due to the fear of getting hurt as I was being hurt in my relationship. I tried hard to numb my emotions so I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain, but that also meant being unable to feel joy or any other positive emotion.

The last straw happened when I went on a three-week vacation in Canada and the United States. We didn’t communicate often due to my ex’s work, and I was touring different places with my family, so Internet wasn’t accessible at all times.

I hadn’t felt so free in a long while. I focused on seeing the world and spending my time with my loved ones, and I didn’t miss my ex one bit. Coming home from a vacation always gave me post-travel depression, but this one hit me much harder, since I knew I had to face the reality of my relationship again.

As expected, within days of my return, my ex and I fought for the nth time. I’ll never forget the exact words that were hurled at me. “You’re a loser. You don’t deserve a vacation.”

The crying and self-loathing came back. Except this time, I knew I had a choice and realized that I was choosing my own heartbreak. I remember the freedom I’d felt while away and decided I wanted that feeling wherever I went.

It might have been a hard pill to swallow, but after six years of an on-again, off-again relationship, I came to the conclusion that it was time to break it off for good.

The process was far from easy. It was a messy and dramatic breakup, and it took two months until there was absolutely no contact between us. No texts, no calls, no emails or messages on messenger apps, nothing.

We were together for six years, starting in my teens, so initially I had no idea how to move on from somebody who had been present while I was building my identity as a person.

Times like these put us in deep contemplation. We ask ourselves, “Is the sole purpose of my existence for him/her?” Or we tell ourselves, “No one else can make me happy.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that, no, those things aren’t true.

It’s been almost a year now, and things have been incredible for me. I am proud to say that I have moved on 100 percent from my past relationship.

The following are lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1. Love alone is never enough.

Formerly, I firmly believed that “love conquers all.” Never mind the problems, never mind the emotional abuse, never mind the important stuff we could never agree on; as long as there was love, everything would fall into place. But it didn’t.

I loved my ex very much and was loved back, but that didn’t change that I’d been disrespected. It didn’t change that my needs weren’t being met, despite how vocal I was about them. Is it even possible to love somebody who constantly degrades you?

We were unable to make it because while love was there, respect and understanding weren’t. I was too wounded to express all my thoughts and feelings because I knew they would only fall on deaf ears. Our relationship consisted of never-ending fights, and the false idea that love would solve our problems.

When I recognized how much self-respect and dignity I’d sacrificed, I realized that relationships need more than love to be successful.

Love is a powerful thing. We need it, it feels good, but we shouldn’t use it to justify losing ourselves.

2. You’re worthy, with or without a partner.

Other single people around me complain about their relationship status and use it as the basis of their self-worth. I used to think that way too, until I imagined what the future would be like if I continued to have that mentality.

If I retained that mentality, I would never truly be happy because I would always be dependent on my partner for love. I would always need that external validation instead of focusing on how I felt about myself.

Since my breakup, I choose to love myself through daily actions. I get more sleep at night, commit myself to a workout routine, eat healthier, and spend time around people who make me feel good about myself.

I happily accept the love I receive from friends and family because I know that I’m worthy, and I’m deserving of good things in this world.

3. Life is uncertain and we must embrace it.

My ex and I planned to live in a small house, with lots of dogs, and travel the world. We were going to run away from my parents, who didn’t approve of us, and live happily ever after. We weren’t going to have any kids, but we were going to pour ourselves into charity.

At least, that was the plan.

When a relationship is new, everything is great. I thought we’d eventually get married and execute all our plans easily. I was treating it like a fairy tale and refused to believe that we were less than perfect for each other. Fast-forward six years later, almost everything drastically changed.

After the breakup, the uncertainty scared me. I asked myself what was going to happen to me now that I didn’t have any plans. I never knew that freedom could be so terrifying and liberating at the same time.

I didn’t let the fear of the unknown stop me from following through with my decision. If I had stayed, the same problems would have continued occurring. Nothing would have changed. I knew I would never be happy staying in something that was detrimental to my self-esteem.

Of course, leaving my unhealthy relationship doesn’t guarantee my next one will work out; it just means I’ve opened myself up to the possibility of finding a suitable partner.

The happiest people in history never settled for less than what they deserved when pursuing their goals. The same should apply in our search for a life partner. It’s only by knowing our worth that we’re able to find real, lasting love.

About Nicah Caramba

Nicah Caramba is an entrepreneur who is passionate about self-improvement, travel and Japanese food. She is constantly looking for ways to make progress daily to achieve personal growth. If you’re interested in changing your life, visit her website or connect with her on Twitter.

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  • Karen Rene Walker

    totally agree with your article. in so many ways, i too had to “find” myself. it is better to be alone and whole rather than in a relationship and being mistreated. kudos to you.

  • Gabe

    From my experience, I’ve come to the realization that relationships usually have a purpose that may have time restraints and hanging on only hurts both parties. Learn to look for the lessons learned and the other benefits that come with relationships. A higher level of love always wants the best for each other, even if it means separation. Comfort zones come with a price so learn to move on, grow and change. Trouble is, ‘It seems that the only one who accepts change is a wet baby.’ ~ Mark Twain 🙂

  • Kathy M

    very honest and heart felt article..thank you for the added simple truth that we already have in knowing whats best for us:)


    I really needed to see this right now. I’ve been struggling to let go of someone who doesn’t want to let me go after 11 years (most of those years were pretty miserable). I know I have made the right decision, but the self-doubt and guilt are insidious. Thank you for reaffirming what I know in my soul – that we must trust the inner voice that always leads us to a better path if we allow it to.

  • TunaonRye

    Wow, I could’ve written this article about 25 years ago, when I was about your age. I dated someone for five years, starting in my late teens. I am now very happily married (to someone else!). You have absolutely made the right decision and you have learned a valuable life lesson – what behavior you will not tolerate in your future relationships.

  • TunaonRye

    I went through the guilt too, panic attacks…

  • Alison Hilaire

    Thank you very much for your article!

  • Thank you for putting all of your soul and honesty into this article…it has educated me a lot on what can happen in relationships…I think, thanks to the movies, we like to believe in the fairytale ending, yet it doesn’t always end that way. Thank you again, you have courage:-)

  • sian e lewis

    Love and respect yourself FIRST. Let detached professionals deal with other people’s problems rather than trying to cure them with love. Good Luck

  • Great article and true! Detroit’s Love Guru 🙂

  • Hi, Karen!
    Yes, it’s definitely better to be single than waste your energy and time when you already know it’s not right for you. Kudos to you, too! We did it. Im happy for you as well. 🙂

  • I, too, had doubts with my decision at first. But as time went on, the more I appreciated what I did. Change is uncomfortable initially.

  • You’re very welcome. 🙂

  • There were many lessons learned in this relationship. 🙂

  • Glad you enjoyed it, Greg! 🙂

  • Yes I had a problem with my self esteem before. Didn’t need someone else to add more to it. Thats why we let go of the people who don’t appreciate us

  • You’re very welcome, Julian. 🙂
    Yes life is very different from the movies. Something I need to adjust to because I tend to idealize relationships. We live and we learn.

  • You’re very welcome, Alison. 🙂 Wishing you all the best.

  • I’m so happy you knew your worth and chose to be with someone who sees that too. 🙂

  • Yes those moments were terrifying for me. 🙁

  • Gabe

    Best wishes, Nicah.

  • You bet! There are so many variables, open communication, vulnerability, emotional safety, partnership, chemistry, etc… I see and deal with these elements daily in my office here in Detroit. 🙂

  • Beautiful. So many of us experience exactly what you have gone through, yet so many don’t choose to learn from it. Having been one of those people, I am proud of what you have done and are doing.

    Keep moving forward.

  • rt

    Congratulations Nicah for finding the strength and courage to detach from this person. It isn’t easy but when we finally do, we get this incredible feeling of empowerment and freedom of space that we can breathe. And I agree the feeling of uncertainty of what is happening to our life. And that love is not enough,I totally agree. I left a marriage of 28 years and can say it had nothing to do with love. But being with someone for so many years and not realizing they got to live their life but owned mine. My marriage had been based on my husband’s happiness and life and he made sure of it. But it took me three years of crying and another three years of crying and counselling to make it work and then leave. He did not change. Today at 56 I am separated and doing it alone because my family told me it was my problem and my friends chose to no longer keep in contact. But this would never make me go back. When you finally realize you deserve so much better, you make better decisions and choices for your own happiness and life. You take back your power. And I did! I made the decision to put me first for the rest of my life. So enjoy your beautiful life that’s waiting for you Nicah which you made possible by leaving the relationship and putting you first! xo

  • Danielle

    where can i follow you on instagram and twitter? please link me! thanks! also, great and powerful article! so much truth to it! and with much love!

  • Hi, Danielle! I’m glad you enjoyed the article!
    My instagram is: niccar95

  • Dear Rt,
    You are a pillar of strength in a shining light to guide those who are in the dark, as we all are from time to time. It pleases me greatly that you are out from underneath this man who seems to have not appreciated you. I find it deplorable that your friends and family have abandoned you in such a time of need, however, I’m certain that you will rise above the clouds stronger than ever before.

    Wishing you all the best. 🙂

  • Thank you, Joel. 🙂
    I’m glad we were both able to go through it.
    Also, I love that quote. Meet the Robinsons! Haha 😀

  • rt

    Thank you Nicah for your kind words which mean so much to me. But it’s wonderful people as yourself who open their heart and share their story who give people like myself the strength and courage to believe and feel we are not alone Thank you:)

  • Rahab Karisa

    This is so me right now….sobssssssssss……i really want to do this……just the aftrethought of terrifying momemts after.

  • Hi, Rahab!
    You can do it. 🙂
    I have faith in you, and so does everyone else here.

  • ananya mohanty

    exact case . loved the honesty .

  • Thank you, Ananya. 🙂

  • 3nekotachi

    Been there, done that. 10 years later, compared to this loneliness I think the insults and beatings weren’t the worst things in the world. I wish he would have killed me. Being dead can’t hurt half as much as being alone.

  • your fucking nightmare

    this article…it just touched my heart, very honest article!

  • Julie

    I’m still in a 6 year relationship and the only thing that would separate us is death.We have an unbreakable bond.