Anna and James were the ideal couple in the eyes of everyone around them. They had been best friends in college and then became lovers. You know the fairytale clichés about Passionately In Love, Have Eyes Only For each other and Happily Ever Afters - that was them.
So when the unthinkable happened - it was a surprise to everyone - family, friends, but most of all to Anna herself. She knew they had have problems but she had thought they could work them out. After all, which relationship doesn’t have its fair share of problems? And as she put it “When you have been together for so long and been through so much together, you think your bond is unbreakable.”
Can you take a guess what sounded the death knell on such a strong relationship?
No, it was not Cheating, it wasn’t Lack of Trust Or Jealousy or Disillusionment or the fact that they fell out of love. It was simply - BURNOUT.
Psychologists associate Burnout with 12 phases - a compulsion to prove oneself, working harder, neglecting one’s own needs,
displacement of conflicts (the person does not realize the root cause of the distress), revision of values (friends or hobbies are completely dismissed), denial of emerging problems (cynicism and aggression become apparent), withdrawal (reducing social contacts to a minimum, becoming walled off; alcohol or other substance abuse may occur), behavioral changes become obvious to others, inner emptiness, depression, burnout syndrome.
James had always been a bit of a workaholic but the more he got secure about his relationship - the more he immersed himself in his work. Since Anna herself could be a workaholic when she was excited about a project, she understood and it had never been a big issue before. A few forgotten dates or turning up late might anger her sometimes but never for long, plus she needed the same leeway sometimes too.
But there came a point where Anna could not even recognize James. From someone who didn’t raise his voice even when angry to the person who would pick up a fight simply because she had been unable to take his call immediately, from a teetotaler to a drunkard, from someone who worried if she was 10 minutes late to someone who didn’t even notice her calls or messages when she got in real trouble and needed him.
At what point in such a case do you cross the line from being Supportive Partner To Emotionally Abused Partner? When do you know that enough is enough and you need to get out, and then not feel guilty about it? When do you stop looking for the sweet guy you fell in love with in the jerk in front of you?
Want to know how this story ended - James burnout progressed to the point where he became emotionally unavailable and cut off contact with his friends, family and even Anna. Where simply losing touch was not enough, he became emotionally and physically abusive.
And Anna.. she is still wondering if she is such a horrible person that a guy who had loved her so much had learned to hate her.