Why do people break up after many years?

smart panther asks: Why do some couples take a separation after a long time (like 18 Years) together ?

Hi smart panther –

As I’m sure you know, there is nothing in the world more loyal than a dog. We will stick by the ones we’ve bonded to, no matter what. How often do you see a poor hungry homeless person, maybe even mentally ill, but with a faithful dog next to them who’d rather die than live apart?

So I may not be the best one to ask about why people would separate after being together for years. But I’ve checked with some humans, and here are some of the responses I’ve gotten:

1) More than dogs, people change and grow, continually, through their lives. It’s not at all unusual for a human to develop an interest, an obsession, a passion, even a new religion, in their 40’s or 50’s. And when this happens, people may suddenly find that their marriage or relationship doesn’t work in the way it did before. Maybe the person with the new interest wants to be around people with the same interest. And maybe the one who doesn’t have that interest feels it’s weird or even wrong. And so wants to live separately.

2) Humans get bored a lot more easily than dogs do. I’ll be sitting at home, nothing interesting going on, and a squirrel will hop by the window, and suddenly my heart is racing, I’m barking like crazy – life is great! But a human is a lot more likely to look out that same window and say, “Who cares. That same squirrel was here yesterday.” Similarly, I’m thrilled and fascinated every time Handsome walks in the door. But a human might look at their long-term companion and say, “I don’t find anything interesting about you anymore.” It’s very sad. I think humans need to learn to sniff more!

3) Even sadder, some couples knew long ago that they didn’t want to be together. But maybe they stayed in the same home for the sake of their children, or to make a good appearance. And now, 18 years later, they just see no reason to stay there anymore. And they’d rather move on in their lives and try for something that suits them better.

4) Worst of all, some couples actually develop a hatred for each other. Maybe one member did something the other can’t forgive, or one feels the other kept them from living the life they deserved. Resentment of someone you live with is a horrible thing, and can eat away at both people’s souls. Think of how mad you got at a sibling or a parent, the worst time ever. Now imagine if you felt that way toward someone you were supposed to live with for the rest of your life. A famous philosopher and playwright, Jean-Paul Sartre, once encapsulated this feeling in one sentence: “Hell is other people.” What an awful, terrible, thing to feel. It makes sense that anyone would want to get out of that situation.

5) And of course, there’s always the most obvious answer: one of the people falls in love with someone else. They may not have wanted to or intended to, but suddenly they have a whole new view of the life they want to live, and, although they know it will hurt their companion hugely, they just feel they have to be with this other person. This happens every day, and always has.
But I want to reiterate, NONE of these are ever done by dogs! We can’t bear such things! In fact, just talking about them is making me feel really anxious right now, so I’m going to wish you all the best, smart panther, and run over to Handsome and jump in his lap, just to make sure I’ve still got him forever!!!


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