If only relationships were as simple as they are in rom-coms. Everyone except you can see your other half is blatantly wrong for you, and the only thing keeping them around is the need for dramatic tension. When you eventually break up, it's as though you've been released into the world to finally Be Yourself, before finding your one true love. Two hours, one big night out, and an impulse haircut later and your love life is tidily wrapped up.
But real life isn't like that and relationships don't work for a whole world of reasons. The problems that can arise between two people are complicated, often hard to explain, and can go against every instinct of what you want. Maybe they're the problem, maybe you are. More likely, it's a combination of the two. But even if you don't end it until much later, there is always a moment when you realize, quite clearly, that what you have cannot work anymore. It's this moment, more than anything, that we're interested in.
We asked different people about the moment they knew their relationship was over and why it was the trigger point. For some, it was heartbreaking; for others, liberating. Most importantly, they all survived – even thrived – once the dust had settled.
If these stories can teach us anything it's that relationships, and their endings, are never as clean-cut as we'd like. But that doesn't mean we cannot also find hope and joy after the pain has passed.