I am not a sociologist nor do I claim to be, but it seems that the start of the New Year, as well as the beginning of summer, is when a lot of long-term relationships come to an end.
I personally know of at least three long-term couples (those who were together for 10 years plus) who decided to call it quits.
We are social animals. Despite the controversies that exist over monogamy vs. polyamory, the fact is, we are hardwired to enjoy the company of others.
However, there is something worse than being alone, and that is being in a bad relationship. While nearly all of us have had at least one bad relationship, some are worse than others.
The examples below are the best reasons I can think of why it’s not only important to chose the right partner but also how being in a bad relationship can literally result in the death of another person.
So without further ado, below are four real-life couples who should have stayed single.
1. Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.
Despite the fact that Hughes was a firm believer in astrology and thought that he and Plath were “married by the stars”, even the blind could see that this was a relationship doomed from the start.
Take for instance their first encounter at a party in Cambridge, England where Plath was a Fulbright scholar at prestigious Cambridge University. Within minutes of meeting each other, Plath recorded in her journal that Hughes kissed her “bang smack on the mouth” and pulled off her headband and silver earrings. Plath in turn bit him on the cheek until she drew blood. Hughes walked around for days with teeth marks on his face, but rather than run for the hills, he and Plath decided to get married a mere four months later.
Plath suffered from severe depression whereas Hughes was a womanizer. Their seven year union produced two children. They finally called it quits for good after Plath discovered Hughes was cheating on her with another woman.
Four months to the day they split, she gassed herself in her London apartment by sticking her head in a gas oven.
Sadly, Plath and Hughes’ son, Nicholas, also went on to commit suicide as an adult and in 2009 at the age of 47.
2. Nero and Agrippina.
Nero and his mother, Agrippina were close. Very close. Indeed, besides murdering her uncle Claudius so that her son could be emperor of Rome, Agrippina was also his lover.
Nero had a habit of growing tired of all his lovers, and Mom was no exception.
At first he tried to poison her, but that didn’t work. Another time, he had his men rig her bedroom ceiling so it would collapse, but she got word of it and escaped the trap.
Thinking that the third time would be the charm and knowing his mother was a keen sailor, Nero came up with a plan to have her boat sabotaged. However, he didn’t count on the fact she was a strong swimmer, so she swam away from the wreck unharmed.
Finally, he just had her stabbed to death and reportedly cheered over her dead body.
Later on, Nero killed his wife and several other lovers as well showing that his hatred for women wasn’t just reserved for his mother.
3. Ted Hughes and Assia Wevill.
Ted Hughes appears again on this list. After Plath’s suicide, Hughes took up with “the other woman”. Despite the fact the then-35 year old was still married to her third husband and lived most of the time with him, Wevill spent some time living with Hughes and his two children by Plath.
Indeed, in a matter of weeks she even moved into the very flat where Plath committed suicide. She slept in her bed, went through her unpublished poetry and fiction, and even used many of the personal items that had formerly belonged to her lover’s dead wife. (If that wasn’t bad enough, Wevill even stole some of Plath’s writing and sent them to a relative saying they were insurance in the event that she and Hughes split. In other words, she intended to sell them for money if the times got hard.)
According to her biographers, she soon became obsessed with Plath and resented the fact that with the publication of her final book of poems, Ariel, Plath went on to become an iconic figure. (It’s interesting to note as well that Wevill showed no apparent sadness or guilt after Plath died. When a co-worker remarked she must be feeling awful, she responded without any hint of irony, “Why would I? This has nothing to do with me.”)
About two years into the relationship, Wevill bore a daughter who may or may not have been Hughes’ biological child. Finally, after six years and endless breaking up and getting back together, the pair called it quits for good.
Hours after the final split, Wevill turned on the gas in her kitchen and with her four year old daughter in her arms, succumbed to carbon dioxide poisoning along with her child.
Hughes shortly went on to remarry a woman whom he was seeing at the same time he was seeing Wevill and yet another woman.
According to his biographers, he cheated on his second wife as well.
4. Prince George IV of England and Caroline of Brunswick.
Long before Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, there was another royal marriage from hell that had all the tongues of Europe wagging.
Despite the fact that George IV was secretly married to a Roman Catholic widow, a Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert, he decided to enter into a marriage arranged for him by his father to settle his gambling debts. There were signs that this marriage might be doomed when George showed up at his wedding so drunk that he had to to be physically supported, and he burst into tears during his vows and tried unsuccessfully to run out of the church.
He openly mocked his bride’s appearance and told people she was “vile”. Somehow, though, Caroline managed to become pregnant with an heir, and then the marriage was all but over in name only. The royal couple lived apart for years. Caroline went to live abroad in Europe and for awhile, even lived with another man.
However, upon hearing her father-in-law had died, and George was going to become king, she decided to return.
It did not go well.
George stationed guards outside his palaces forbidding her to enter. He then tried to divorce Caroline claiming that she had committed adultery.
However, most of the public was firmly on Caroline’s side, and she made the memorable statement that the only man she committed adultery with was with the “husband of a Mrs. Fitzherbert”.
Parliament soon abandoned the bill.
Several weeks after he was crowned, Caroline died possibly of the hereditary disease porphyria.
While we all long for the love, security, and fulfillment of committed relationships the above examples prove how some time these things can go very badly. While these are extreme examples, it’s interesting to note that in doing research for this piece, all of them started out with at least one of the parties thinking that they had found someone they were compatible with.
It just proves that sometimes we are the wrong and the best of intentions can lead to a ton of heartache. (The one huge exception being Nero and his mother as it’s pretty clear neither had good intentions.)
If you find yourself alone and heartbroken, take comfort in knowing that there probably is someone out there for you and despite what you may feel, it could always be worse.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise