Every woman feels that, the greater her power over a man, the more impossible it is to leave him except by sudden flight: a fugitive precisely because a queen.
Marcel Proust, The Fugitive, p. 432
At first blush this may seem to be nothing more than a stinging rebuke from a man who has just been dumped; doubtless made worse by the fact that he was thinking of dumping Albertine, and by delaying he missed out on the opportunity to do so. However, I think there is more at play here. Granted, there is no easy way to break off a relationship, no matter its duration or intensity, and I'm notoriously bad at it. One time (or several times, we're closing in on two years of dissecting Proust) we discussed whether it was worse to be madly in love with someone or to be the object of that love. There is an old chestnut about how in some cultures if you save someone's life you are responsible for them. Actually, I don't even know if this is true, and not merely a convenient plot point invented by Hollywood. Over the many decades of my clumsy, painful, and ill-scripted romantic life I've had women tell me that I had saved their lives by being at a certain place and reciprocating their love, which, in turn, seems overdone and awfully convenient, except as part of the personal script/narrative that we consistently write. In turn, there are women who have, if not saved my life (although they might have; I've had some remarkably low periods), played a role in bringing me back to a more happy, contented, blissful life. Does the person, I won't just say woman, who has "the greater power" have to leave by "sudden flight?" We think of the person who is less in love - and, as I've proposed, in every relationship one of the two is, by definition, almost certainly more in love than the other - as being more likely to leave, and also to leave suddenly. Why put up with the misery of a protract breakup if you're not that invested in the relationship anyway (beyond the notion that you might simply be a good person with healthy mirror neurons and would want to stay to avoid the suffering of the other person). Circling back to Proust, can you be so trapped by the power, and responsibility, you have over the other person that you can only leave my "sudden flight," essentially abdicating your throne in the middle of the night? I don't know if I have a brilliant, insightful answer to this question (or any question, for that matter), and will have to revisit this post down the road.