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Breaking Up

Popular media would lead us to believe that once in a lifetime, everyone finds that one perfect person with whom they fall hopelessly in love and live happily ever after.

That is, very sadly, a mere fallacy. In the real world, this just does not happen. Yes, people do have common interests and on that basis develop romantic involvement, but in far too many cases these relationships have a shelf life and they just cannot last. Romanticism is wonderful in itself, and thus two people can live in heavenly bliss, but in the vast majority of cases it must all come to an end somehow. It is a fact of life that couples break up, and there are many reasons why. I don't claim to be able to list all of the possible explanations, but I'm going to put out three major categories of reasons: material, emotional, and physical/sexual. One material reason as to why couples break up is money, or more commonly a lack thereof. If one partner in a relationship is always paying or keeping up bills, that individual is likely to grow weary and decide that it is a valid reason to separate. For example, a woman who is always lending her boyfriend money for his rent, car note, or social expenses will probably grow tired of it sooner or later and leave him. Similarly, addictions often result in ugly breakups. Whether it is an addiction to drugs, sex, gambling, or anything else, very few people are willing to put up with obsessive behaviour on an everyday basis. Obsessive behavior is simply not attractive attractive to most people and thus, not many people wish to stay with someone who has an extreme personality or obsessions of any kind.

Just as there are specific examples of material problems that cause breakups, there are emotional problems which cause breakups. ‘Growing apart’, is very commonplace, resulting in the end of a relationship when two people gradually come to feel less and less mutual attraction and affection. Some couples feel that they have simply “fallen out of love” without even being able to explain the reasons why. Some people can only stand so much of another person before they grow bored.

This ‘separation’ could be literal, the result of distance. For example, when high school couples go their individual ways in choosing colleges or universities, this more often than not results a breakup. A long distance relationship is difficult to maintain, because proximity and physical contact are vital necessary for any kind of successful romantic relationship.

Possibly the most common of all reasons for break-ups are individual and irreconcilable differences. This can include different life goals; differences in religion; incompatible personalities; and families who disapprove of the relationship. If one person in a relationship wants to be financially successful, while another person would prefer to work a minimum-wage job and spend as much time as possible with a family, the two are mutually exclusive aims. It would be very unlikely that two such people can enjoy a serious, long-term relationship. As well, in many cases, couples just realize at some point that they are too different and cannot remain together. Nothing is necessarily wrong with this. In fact, this is arguably the entire purpose of the dating process.

A physical cause of breakups, and a very unfortunate one, can be physical disability. This can range from an incapacitating accident to impotence or infertility. For some people, having children is the single most important priority of their adult life. Having a partner who is incapable of having children can absolutely scuttle a relationship. In such a case, even an otherwise strong relationship may not last. Likewise, having a partner who has a crippling disability may prove too difficult for many people to cope with. Being with a person who becomes handicapped, though unfortunate, is a very large burden to bear for the able-bodied partner as well as the partner struggling with new challenges in daily life.

Another physical reason for a relationship’s termination is loss of interest or sometimes unfaithfulness. A person sometimes finds someone other than their partner to whom they are attracted. Finding someone who is perceived to be “better” will kill a relationship quickly, and sometimes start a new relationship. If a person finds someone more attractive than the person they are currently with, they may be forced to weigh their options and decide whether or not they wish to go in another direction with another individual. Similarly, if a person finds someone to whom they are attracted as much or more so than the attraction that they feel for their belle/beau or spouse, this could result in romantic and sexual infidelity or ‘cheating’. This could be considered either an emotional cause of breakup or a physical/sexual one, depending on the situation. If a man discovers that his girlfriend is being unfaithful to him, or vice versa, it could very well be a suitable reason to end the relationship.

Unfaithfulness causes intense feelings of loss and a severe lack of trust and thus, kills the relationship. Another very serious reason for a break-up is abuse. This can be material, emotional, or physical/sexual. When someone abuses his or her girlfriend, spouse, or children, a break-up is definitely necessary. Someone who is simply putting up with abuse is playing with fire by allowing it to continue. Besides physical and sexual abuse, social or political power and money can also be misused in a damaging manner. Nevertheless, no matter what kind of abuse is being discussed, it is unhealthy and a potential reason for a break-up.

Nearly all human beings go through life experiencing romantic relationships. Unfortunately, it is all too rare, and increasingly more so, that one of these relationships spans an entire lifetime. People have fun together but also frequently break up. Yet, in spite of all of the seemingly stacked evidence against romance, according to Alfred Lord Tennyson - “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” At times that sentiment is very open to question, but that bittersweet mix of dizzying highs and crippling lows is what life is made of.

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