I am a pretty social gal – shy, but social…it usually just takes me a few moments to warm up to people I don’t already know. So it’s a bit shocking to many who know me well when they learn that I’ve only seriously dated two men (boys?) in my life. By serious, I mean I considered the possibility of spending the rest of my life with each of them while we were dating.

The first guy lived at least 500 miles from me during the entire 3.5 years of our relationship. Looking back, I am still shocked how we made the long distance relationship worked for SUCH A LONG TIME! But as much as we tried to beat the odds, the distance ultimately destroyed our relationship. It ended rather bitterly, and I was devastated. I spent almost the next 1.5 years of my life getting over that relationship.

The second guy is local. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think much of him when we first met, but he grew on me. The funny thing is, as he became more likable and lovable, our relationship became more dysfunctional. We dated on and off for about 2 years before I finally called it quit. I want to say I was equally devastated about the end of this relationship as well, but I still hang out with the guy. It’s hard to feel bad about the end of something wonderful when the end is obviously not really the finale. In fact, we’ve become very good friends since the breakup; he calls me for advice, and I use him as a sounding board.

Recently though, I’ve had the chance to reflect on those two relationships. Although the two relationships could not be more different from each other, I suffer the same: The 1.5 years post the first break-up was one of the saddest times in my life, but the distance ultimately helped healed me. The distance helped tremendously because it forced me to go through and COMPLETE the mourning process. In contrast, because I still hang out with my ex from the second relationship, I find the devastation and sadness minimal. However, because I still see him on a fairly regular basis, I find myself continuously mourning the loss of that relationship. So if I add up the length and intensity of the pain from each relationship, they come out to be about equal.

I guess rather than my thoughts, I have a question to ask you in this post: Do you think it’s better (for one’s sanity) to end a romantic relationship on a finale or to demote it to the friendship level? I am still pondering and would love to hear your thoughts.