"The art of recognizing the natural end of a relationship and discontinuing it without ill feelings toward the other is what makes a relationship ultimately successful in my opinion."
An important insight!
At the risk of sounding new-agey...
It's important to look beyond "can I find someone" and even beyond "can I keep someone" and begin to accept a more holistic idea of love and relationships in which there are a series of alignments where people wind up naturally connecting, but the flipside is that there are matching disconnects as well. It goes so far beyond the language "oh, he was a jerk" that people love to use after breakups, which is so often a form of self-defense. You can still have warm feelings for someone, but come to the realization that, in the broader sense, it's not the right fit. It could be for someone else, but not for you.
If you try to artificially force a connection to start or to keep one going when it's failing, you risk play-acting. It should not feel like you have to give up who you are, any of your beliefs, goals, or passions, in order to keep the other person satisfied. That's not love. When you start to feel like you're having to do a song-and-dance act, it's time to bow out as gracefully as possible, and that's what I just had to do.
It's ultimately about control. There are benefits in having a relationship we all want, but in order to get it, there has to be mutual interest. And so there's a helplessness to that which we all need to submit to, and that vulnerability NEVER ENDS. Even in the most intimate moments in the sack, it never ends. Some time down the road that person who has filled your memory banks with words of loyalty and commitment can come to you and say she wants to break up or she found someone new. That's the price we all have to pay.
There's a central part of us that might stay the same, but so much of what makes a person who they are changes day-by-day. I'm at an age now (42) where I look back on earlier stages in my life and I can see areas I can relate to, and others where I shake my head over the errors of my ways. It's easy to regret all your past relationships for the simple fact that they don't exist anymore, but they weren't all bad nor were they worthless.
The pain that lingers the most is not missing the person so much as the amicability of the breakup. I can only speak for myself, but the final words exchanged are what lingers. Things like "I was over you months ago". Words which feel so dehumanizing. I really think even when you're the one doing the rejecting that there is a high road one must travel. Don't disregard the other person's humanity or dignity.
If everyone did that, I think the world would be a better place.