A little over a year ago, I left a long-term relationship. I could have written a note. I could have sent an email. I could have left a post-it on the fridge. Instead, I wrote a three-page letter, which I read to him with tears streaming down my face as I explained how he had disappointed me, how he had not respected me, how he said I was his everything, yet treated me like I was nothing but a burden. By the end of the break-up conversation, it was a mutual agreement that we couldn’t go on. He could not/would not give me what I needed, and so I had to leave. We agreed to be friends and to be respectful of each other. Who knew what the future would hold? We might be back together a year down the road when circumstances were different. We even went for dinner, spent one final night together, and kissed each other good-bye the next morning.
At his insistence, I had made some pretty serious compromises in my life. I had given up my career. I had agreed to move to a rural town in Northern California and to give up my friends and my world to build a life with this man. If things didn’t work out, his life would be fine; mine would be a disaster. We had talked about marriage, but even after a lengthy relationship, he was in no hurry to remarry a fourth time—even to “the love of his life.” I asked him to provide me with some kind of financial consideration if things didn’t work out. He verbally agreed that if things didn’t work out and I left he would give me a certain (small) sum to help me get back on my feet; and, if he ended the relationship, there would be one and a half times that (small) sum.