Now That I'm Recovered, I Want to Leave My Partner | Ask Athena | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Now That I'm Recovered, I Want to Leave My Partner


Published November 9, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated November 10, 2016 at 9:01 p.m.

Dear Athena,

I developed cancer two years ago, and now I am cancer free. I am very proud of my recovery. I am excited to live life to the fullest. I have had the same partner through the whole thing, and he helped me recover. He was there for me when I lost my hair and was really sick, and he took time off to help when I had surgeries. Now that I am better, I want to end the relationship. I want to date other people, but I feel bad for breaking up with him. Am I an awful person? Is he going to hate me?


Healthy and Unhappy

Dear Healthy,

First of all, congrats on the clean bill of health. What a happy ending to a frightening journey.

You are not an awful person because you fell out of love. There is nothing wrong with having a new lease on life that inspires you to want different things. Your partner's loyalty and caregiving may make you feel guilty about it, but the heart wants what it wants. However uncomfortable and sad that makes you, it's a fact all the same.

Give yourself a break. Your relationship — your life — was put through the wringer, and it would be unreasonable to expect that you'd come out unchanged. Just because you had this challenging and extraordinary experience together does not guarantee a lifelong commitment or true love. Sometimes we assume that a life-altering experience will bring us closer, but that's not always true. Even without your illness, who's to say this relationship would have lasted? Don't make the breakup about cancer. It's about a relationship that has simply run its course.

Is he going to resent you? Maybe. Will he be angry or sad? Probably. But there's a good chance he would have felt those things anyway — most folks don't enjoy being broken up with. Don't stay with him out of guilt or obligation. If the relationship ends now and you're honest about how you feel and what you need, you two might even stay friends. But if you hold on because you think you have to, you're likely to resent him. If he's upset, give him time to figure out how he feels. Try to be as sensitive and supportive as he's been to you.

This hard journey has no doubt taught you that it's your life to live. Be kind, but don't let anything stop you from living it to its fullest.