We all know the song “Breaking up is hard to do,” and have heard from friends or even ourselves how difficult leaving a relationship can be or having someone break up with you. It is so much easier said that done.
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I cannot tell you how many times I have been in a relationship and I knew that the relationship was going nowhere, but could not find my way out. It would become so challenging to untangle myself and then once I did, or the other person did the breaking up, there was still the mental chatter, the hurt, the sadness, the angst, the thinking that “there won’t be anyone else like that person” (and thank G-d for that), the hours of journaling and fantasizing how to get that person back in my life and the list goes on. I’ve been there, done that. Then there are people who can end a relationship and move right on to the next person in a matter of days. That has always baffled me.
In any event, there are way too many stories about people feeling stuck in a relationship and not knowing how to get out and once they do, how to manage their life. I have found a few things that have been quite helpful in getting through this a bit more easily.
Sometimes relationships can become addictions and we think we are in love with someone, but its no longer really love, but an addiction to that relationship or person. It is almost as if we become chemically dependent on some type of perfume that they emit and we stay in something that we know in our hearts is unhealthy for us. Our minds and bodies are screaming at us to get out but like a loyal puppy we stay. I have heard married couples say that they stay in the marriage for the children, or finances, or it would be too “messy” and even though their lives have become intolerable, they stay.
There is always an excuse or reason to stick in a relationship. We can always find some ridiculous reason to hang onto, but we know in our hearts that it is just no longer a fit. The thing we also forget is that, if the relationship is not a fit for us, then the other person is probably unhappy as well. It is such a disservice to both people to stay in a relationship when it no longer is appropriate. Set yourself free as well as the other person. Stop torturing yourself and your partner and do what is honorable for both your lives.
I have seen couples, including myself, have horrible fights about the same thing over and over again and yet the relationship does not change. Before I met Jeff, I was in a relationship for six years that I knew was wrong within the first few months, but I stayed. When I finally decided to leave, and I tried many times prior, I knew it had to be the final time. We went back and forth so many times which in itself is a HUGE red flag. When you do this break up, get back together, break up scenario, the writing is on the wall. What shifted my perception is that I had decided that I wanted to find a life partner. Someone who had all the qualities my heart desired. I took a very objective look at the man I was involved with and realized that he did NOT have the qualities that I was looking for in a life partner. He was nowhere close to being that person, so why was I staying?? It was like a light bulb went off in my head and I made a very logical and clear decision based on what I truly wanted in my life. I was in my 40′s and thought “do I want to spend the rest of my life with this man and how much more time am I going to waste?” The answer was a resounding “NO and I will not waste any more time!”
That is the point in which I got very clear when I asked the question, “does this person have the qualities that I want in a life partner?”, “do I want to spend the rest of my life with this person?” If you ask yourself this about the relationship you are currently in, and the answer is “no” then you are half way there. This perspective will give you strength and also help you in finding someone who is right for you. Your mind has made the decision and now the body needs to move with it. Having the break up conversation is hard, but doing it as gently and honestly as you can is important.
Once the relationship has ended, either by your choice or not, the next few months may be challenging. This is where you get to begin to take extra loving care of yourself. I remember a girlfriend of mine had her boyfriend break up with her and she was devastated. She called me sobbing and I started asking her questions about the relationship. I asked her things like: Was he a nice man?, What was he like?, Why did he break up with you?, Did he contribute to the relationship the way in which you would like a partner to contribute? The last question was the deal breaker. He did not contribute to the relationship in a way that she wanted someone to and he was not going to change. At that moment she stopped crying and I asked her, “is this the kind of man that you want to spend the rest of your life with?” There was a pause, a longer pause and then a small “no, but I love him.” There are no “buts” in this situation. It’s either “yes” or “no.” She realized this and took a deep breath and felt a little relieved that she was finally out of a situation that did not honor her. It is in that feeling of relief, that the healing can begin to take place.
Getting real with yourself is crucial. Becoming brutally honest with the situation that you are in will be helpful. Do not put the other person on a pedestal and make them out to be this long lost love that has left you. There were probably a lot of lousy things about their character that truly did not work for you. I also found a great trick in getting over a break up. I would only allow myself 15 minutes a day to think about the person. This exercise helped me to stop the obsessive thoughts and fantasizing about getting back together. Fifteen minutes a day….that’s IT!! I would also not allow myself to call the other person and began to do things that I loved to do again. Take classes, exercise, find new friends, hobbies, do loving things for yourself, and get outside support.
Remember, if this person is not right for you, there is definitely, most positively someone else out there for you. The world is filled with wonderful, heartfelt, kind and compassionate human beings wanting to be in a healthy relationship just like you. Take time to heal and when you are ready, get back out there. If I found it, you can too!!
Till next week.