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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Exeter chapter.

We had been dating since sixth form. Then we both started University, and for the first few months it was great. I loved visiting him and getting to know his flat. I wasn’t interested in the hook up culture often associated with uni so being in a relationship with somebody at a different uni really suited me. I threw myself into everything (probably overcommitting a little if I’m honest) and made some incredible friends. 

But whilst I was juggling a degree, work, producing a play and acting in another, he didn’t seem to be doing anything at all. That’s when the cracks began to show. It felt like I had started to lose the guy I fell in love with. I pushed him to join clubs, to go out and make new friends, to talk to people on his course but he just didn’t seem interested. He even seemed to lose interest in me, and before long we’d started falling out, breaking up, getting back together and repeating the whole cycle. 

If I could give my past self one piece of advice, it would have been to end it then. To tell him to find himself again, the man I knew he could be, and let him come back if he did. 

Of course, that’s not what happened. And the problem with my love for him was it was completely unconditional. I was completely and utterly besotted and no matter how many times we broke up and got back together again I would forgive him a thousand times over. My friends were fed up with hearing about the break ups because it seemed to happen every other month. 

After every breakup came more resentment, and for my part, I got meaner. I got tougher and after every tiny thing he did wrong, I would blow up in his face. I became unrecognizable in the way I handled any slight problem, and if you added a few drinks to the mix I was intolerable. That only made all of it so much worse, and I’m still horrified at how I handled so much of it. It revealed the worst parts of me. 

This destructive cycle continued for an entire year before we finally gave up. And even then it was no clean cut break up. It was messy and it left me in a worse state than the very first time we ended it. 

a man and a woman sit on a park bench looking frustrated
Vera Arsic | Pexels

So why did I hang on for so long? And why do I see so many women doing exactly the same thing? 


When initially faced with this question, it’s easy to blame yourself. I’ve seen a million self help articles that tell you it’s because you are deeply insecure and haven’t found love in yourself. Whilst this may be a contributing factor, for my part I have to disagree. I am certainly not a person desperately in need of validation or too insecure to let go. 

Instead, I would argue it’s our complete blind optimism in love that this all comes down to. We are hanging onto the optimistic ideals of a person that no longer exists in the present moment. We are hopelessly and incurably human in the way that we love. 

We hang onto the completely optimistic (and potentially false) hope that the person we fell for would come waltzing back in. The hard truth of it is, that person is never going to come back unless we give them the space to find themselves again. Even then, chances are the new person you’re confronted with is actually a more accurate version of who they want to be. In which case, why on earth would you want to stick around? 

I know, even now, that if the man I’d met years ago walked back into my life, there is no way I could say no. I would fall head over heels all over again, and I don’t blame myself. Neither should you. There’s a reason we fell in love. We are blind optimists when it comes to it. 

But there’s also a reason we fell out of that relationship, and when that happens you should trust your gut from the get go. My mum has always told me that if somebody is meant to be in your life, they will come back into it. If not, they are not meant to be there. Have faith in that statement and let go. 


Edit: after writing this article in early 2020, I let go of my relationship so we could both grow. Now, in January 2021 I am back with the same person I fell in love with three years ago. Letting go was the best thing that I ever did for myself and my happiness.