Walk Away Partner Syndrome: It Happened To Me, and I Still Feel the Same Way… Run.

Anne Marie Wells
19 min readApr 26, 2022
Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

[This essay is now available in audio on YouTube]

In February 2019, I published my article Walk Away Partner Syndrome: It Has Probably Happened to You in which I chronicled the escalation I experienced with my former partner, Tracy, that led to our breakup. Despite the changes she promised to make after I left, I no longer had anything left to give back to her.

Social worker and marital therapist Michele Weiner-Davis describes this phenomenon as “Walk Away Wife” syndrome. I renamed it “Walk Away Partner Syndrome” because… heteronormativity is a big ew. Weiner-Davis claims that it is quite tragic when Walk Away Partner Syndrome happens because “The threat of divorce generates true soul-searching… [M]ost of these [people] sincerely undergo a personal transformation that shifts their priorities forever.”

To that, I said “YUCK.”

But then it happened to me… well… kind of.

Last year, I began dating a long-time friend of mine… we’ll call him… Michael. We were close in high school and the first part of college until he went on study abroad and didn’t come back to The States for a decade. We lost touch, but still checked in with each other periodically. He had gotten married and moved to Los Angeles; I was living in Wyoming. We reconnected after I blogged about my dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis. His dad, too, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we commiserated with each other about how shitty it was to watch our fathers quickly fade.

Michael’s marriage had ended after only a couple years, and after my dad’s passing, my relationship ended too. Commiserating sparked a romantic relationship, and we began seeing each other long distance. I traveled to LA from Wyoming, he traveled to Wyoming from LA, and we spent the holidays in Florida where both of our families live.

Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

But like all relationships, we had issues.

Primarily that for the first half or more of our relationship, he talked compulsively…