Written by: Jenny Smith
It is now common for people to experience relationship break up several times in their lifetimes. The old model of staying together forever, although still a dream for many, is a reality for few. But even though many people have left relationships, or been left by partners before, it doesn’t necessarily become any easier to face the truth about a current partnership.
Generally, the process of accepting that the relationship is over is exactly that, a process rather than an overnight decision. Sometimes in the face of something dramatic like finding out your partner has been having an affair, things can move a lot quicker, but more often than not people are taking their time to really ensure that the relationship is absolutely ready to end.
It is very common for one, or both people to initially ignore any warning signs. These might include niggling thoughts, noticing behaviour changes such as spending less time together, arguing more and a general sense of growing apart.
It is natural to want to avoid facing something that feels painful, humans are wired to move towards pleasure and away from pain, there will almost inevitably be a period of trying to make things seem ok.
As the doubts persist, there will come a point where the partner who is noticing things the most, will find a way of raising the subject. They may well have spoken it through with friends or family beforehand, but at some point, a conversation between them and their other half is essential. Things might really clarify at this stage; it may be that a simple breakdown in communication is being pointed to. This conversation might then prompt a much more honest sharing than has been possible which clears the air, giving time for both people to see what they need to give and receive in the relationship, in order for it to strengthen once more.
The other outcome might be a more sobering realisation for both people, about the decreasing level of connection between them; this can be a potentially painful and courageous truth to face. These early conversations can result in high levels of emotion, which can sometimes give a slightly false sense of closeness again, which can delay any decisions or action for a while.
Couples can spiral around this stage of decision making for a long time, sometimes going through a temporary renewal of intimacy and sharing, only to find that the deeper underlying feelings return at a later date. This stage can be a very fragile time of fear and insecurity. When there are other pressures like children or work, it can be very hard to retain a level of kindness and openness with each other.
Talk to friends
It makes a big difference if each person has friends that they can talk with and be supported by, whist they are navigating these difficult waters of separating. It is sadly very common for people to leave a relationship where there was once a strong bond of love, with very little positive feeling for each other. This feeling of strain can be acutely enhanced at this stage if the pressure becomes too much.
Damage limitation is a healthy intention during the process of relationship breakdown; this includes the practical, as well as the emotional. It is worth looking into all the options from early on, so that the choices are on the table and can be talked through clearly and rationally. Encouraging a spirit and practice of conscious communication with each other, where both parties take responsibility for their part in the breakup. This can make a huge difference to how messy or how mature the ending finally is. It is always worth remembering, taking out your frustrations on another person only brings short term relief, whereas finding a way to express your feelings without dumping them, brings a much deeper level of emotional healing.