Breaking Up without Breaking Down

Relationships crossroads are common occasions we all struggle with, starting at an early age. From the BFF’s you fought with and *never* spoke to again in elementary school, to the dreamy kisser you met and lost in middle school (OK, high school, no judging,) to your later broken off adult relationships, engagements, and even divorce. With each experience you gain experience and become a little wiser You hope to be able to better face the next similar challenge, avoid the next breakup, or at least make it less hurtful. But whether you are the one taking the lead in the decision to split up, or the one facing it, the emotional burden is considerable none the less.

You face the moment of breakup and the days following with the best your character and mental strength can offer. Your course for a future had just taken an immediate and significant turn. Your life alignment is off, and the resulting emotional tremors are shaking everything inside and around you into pieces. How can you make it out in one piece?

One common thread to clients I have coached through this crossroad is their quest to seek safety and clarity in the midst of the storm. Such a need is difficult to fulfill at a time when so many elements in their lives are shifting. One asset you can use at this time is just that, time. You may feel the urge to make quick decisions in order to gain control and stability over the situation (or at least feel that you do.) But quick or impulsive moves may produce adverse results. Ask yourself: Can you really make such important decisions alone, when you are so emotionally vulnerable? Answer: Taking the time to consult and strategize will result in a sounder plan for you, and although it may take longer to achieve, it will save you time (and face, and money, and stress) in the long run. Action: Bring a trusted and experienced person by your side, and devise your strategy.

Yes, devise your strategy. Decide: What do you plan to do?

When you are awash with negative feelings and doubt in your relationship, your instinct may lead you to create distance between you and your partner. Such action may soothe your emotional pain and discomfort, but will do little to address the reasons that led to this situation. If you choose to leave, you will be giving up on a relationship, something you have invested yourself in countless ways over time, and in some cases could be blamed for the breakup. Before you make any of these moves, sit down for a conversation with your partner. Try to locate the source for the rift, and think of ways to repair it. If you fear that having that conversation one-on-one may be too tense of a situation for either of you, get help into the fold. Bring a trusted party to act as an intermediary, a stability provider. The help options are many. Ask for advice from your friends. Attend a relationship workshop. Pursue individual and couple’s counseling. Request religious guidance. Hire a life coach. Use any of these paths to make a true attempt to repair and save your investment before you decide to declare it a total loss. Even if the actions you take lead to an end of the relationship, you will arrive at that point whole, knowing that you did all you can to mend it.

A new beginning does not require razing your past. Acquiring personal support and professional guidance, preferably earlier in the conflict, ensures a better resolution to the conflict. Remember: Your goal is to improve your situation and succeed through it into the future. Imagine that, but try not to imagine it alone.

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