“You can love them, forgive them, want good things for them… but still move on without them.”
~ Mandy Hale
Breakups are heart wrenching, whether we are the person breaking up or the one broken up with.
The song title “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” is a painful truth. We are afraid of making a mistake, being alone, not being able to meet someone else, feel our pain or even hurting our partner. We base our fears on previous experiences, beliefs, and childhood hurts.
There may be a myriad of reasons for wanting to break up.
Perhaps there is abuse, betrayal and you are deeply hurt or you have grown apart and don’t know how to find our way back. Be gentle with yourself, try not to blame yourself for not knowing how to end things. Breakups are as unique as relationships. There is no simple answer for everyone.
One of the ways to begin the process of walking away from someone you love is by examining your fears.
Unspoken fears often go underground and can paralyze you, but once you confront and identify them it will help you move forward. Even though breakups are heart wrenching at times they will give us new freedom and relief once we get through them.
Below are some exercises that can help you identify your fears, as well as assist in clarifying the possibilities above and beyond.
Stay with exercise 1 and 2 for a couple of weeks before moving to exercise 3. It’s imperative to not avoid the part that feels terrified of making a change.
Exercise 1: Clarifying Your Fears:
Write down the sentence “If I leave this relationship then… ” – and fill in the fears that come up.
Keep repeating the first part of the sentence and fill in what new fears come up.
Repeat the sentence many times. Unconscious thoughts continue to emerge as you drop in more deeply. Allow time for your thoughts to keep unfolding.
Example: “If I leave this relationship then… I’ll be alone”. “If I leave this relationship then… my heart will break”. “If I leave this relationship then… I’ll feel ashamed”
Exercise 2: Locating The Fear In Your Body
When you start feeling fear or discomfort try to locate where it is in your body. Is it in your chest, your belly, in your heart? Gently place a hand where you feel the discomfort. This helps you connect with and soothe the fears.
Exercise 3: Clarifying New Possibilities
Write down the sentence “If I leave this relationship then… ” – and fill in your possibilities that surface.
Keep repeating the first part of the sentence and fill in what new ideas come up.
Repeat this sentence many times. Unconscious thoughts continue to emerge as you drop in more deeply. Allow time for your thoughts to keep unfolding.
Example: “If I leave this relationship then… I’ll be free”. “If I leave this relationship then…I’ll have a new life”. “If I leave this relationship then… I’ll be myself again”
Examining our beliefs and fears is sometimes difficult to do on our own, depending on how deeply entangled they are in both you and the relationship.
If you continue to have difficulty sorting things out, seek professional help.
Taking responsibility for your own part of why things went awry in the relationship will help strengthen yourself as well as create more awareness for future relationships.
So, let it be a journey into yourself, because you want to know yourself better, not only because you want to break up.
Anette Kischinowsky, CCEP & Life Coach – www.anettek.com
On the surface, this seems like such a strange situation to be in. Why break up with someone you love?
The emotions related to loving someone and breaking up with someone are on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
It just doesn’t make sense. And this is exactly why it can be so confusing when it comes to ending a relationship with someone you love. But don’t worry. You’re not the first to experience this and certainly not the last.
First, let’s clear up some confusion
- Love is not the only thing you need to make a relationship work. (Sorry to burst your bubble, romantics). There are so many other factors involved. Timing, compatibility, readiness, geography, similar values and goals are just a few of the aspects that play a role in your decision to stay in a relationship.
- Oftentimes, one of these is either missing or too much of a stressor to continue a relationship. Love can keep you in the relationship, but your ultimate satisfaction is most likely being sacrificed due to the stress related to other factors.
- Also, take into consideration that you may be realizing your version of love isn’t what you initially thought and are committing to your new definition.
Just a head’s up…
- It may take you a while to get the courage to end the relationship. The fact that you still love your partner oftentimes has a strong enough hold to keep you in the relationship longer than you want to be in it.
- Your partner may also be very resistant to ending the relationship because he knows you still love him. This is definitely a tricky one because you may not want to hurt him because you love him, but that’s where the next piece of advice comes into play…
Commit to yourself
- If ending the relationship is truly what you feel needs to happen, take time to explore and write down your reasons for this decision. Emphasize your needs and wants in this process. It also may be helpful to think about your long-term goals and ask yourself, “Do I picture him in this?”
- When we love someone, we may have a tendency to come up with reasons like, “He will be happier without me” or “I hold him back.” These are all legitimate, but they are also reasons that you could potentially be talked out of. This is why it’s so important to have a clear vision of what you want. He can’t talk you out of that.
Sarah Vendegna, MS, LPC – www.vendegnacounseling.com
Honor your intuition
Take stock in where you are at in the relationship as they say love is never enough… The inner calling to call it quits is there for a reason.
This is the time for self-reflection and exploring your motives for this life altering change.
Are you running away or moving on? In other words, be impeccable with yourself by asking, what is my agenda here?
Some questions to ask yourself to build confidence in your insight to act:
- Have you lost trust?
- Are you engaged in a rollercoaster power struggling dynamic that impedes having an intimate relationship?
- Have his cherishing acts toward you faded away, and have you lost your admiration for him?
- Has the passion between the two of you disappeared?
- Have you discovered your core values differ?
- You have lost sight of honoring yourself?
Heart to heart communication
Start with love. Truth does reign. If you are considering breaking up, the most loving thing you can do is share your feelings and thoughts. It is my belief that there is no such thing as too much communication.
Sometimes it’s hard and can feel harder to talk, remember, this is short term, as the truth and love will provide a healing balm during the uncoupling.
You are not alone in this
If the above fails you, reach out and seek assistance. There is professional help to assist in maneuvering through any unresolved feelings that could leave each of you fractured.
The separation process is a major loss, and the sooner you work through the grief, the more successful you will be in capturing the lessons learned from your investment and love that you shared.
A third-party professional can offer mediation, psychoeducation on grief and closure, assistance with the grief work and mirroring back the positive gains from knowing one another.
Forgiveness is key to healing.
Forgiveness opens the path to new adventures untethered by the negative ramifications from the past. There is a fine line between love and anger.
Resentment keeps you tethered to one another without the benefits of being together.
This also serves as a barrier in moving forward in your lives. As you take the step to commit to forgive, you strengthen from within as you address any remaining fractures of the heart.
Together you part with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the memories you carry forward, loving for the imprinting you had during your union.
Cheri McDonald, PhD, LMFT – www.aplace2turn.com
This is one of the most painful decisions to make.
It is far easier to end a relationship when it has turned contentious and ugly than it is to end a relationship when there are still feelings, though the relationship is fading and doesn’t have a future.
Rather than give concrete “tips” for what you can do to end the relationship anyways, I want to provide you with some validation and insight for why this is so hard.
1. Beginnings are powerful.
Those early days of getting to know each other, long talks, and romantic dates form the foundation of a relationship. You and him may have had a very strong, good foundation. This can lead us to want to think that there must be some hope even if years have passed and a lot has changed. It may be that you’re in love with who he was then more than you’re in love with who he is now.
2. He still has some good qualities.
You fell in love with him for a reason. Even if the relationship has turned sour and you’ve started to see lots of things that you don’t like, part of why you still love him is because the good qualities are there, too.
Ending the relationship is going to require you to take off your rose-colored glasses and recognize that despite the good qualities he likely still has, he’s not the one for you for a reason.
3. Being alone is scary.
We can use all sorts of reasons to try to justify staying in a relationship that is no longer serving us, mostly because staying in it is easier than starting over most of the time.
Any change is scary and hard.
However, most – if not all – of us have known someone at some point who stayed in a relationship that wasn’t good for her for this reason. Don’t be her. Don’t let your love for him win out over the love you have for yourself.
At the end of the day, breakups are always hard and this one may feel harder than others.
Stand firm by your decision to end this relationship and find someone better for you, despite the love you still have for him. We can love someone and still decide that we deserve better.
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
You love your boyfriend, but something is not right. You’re not feeling like he’s “The One” because he may be missing certain things you are looking for.
Does he lack maturity, responsibility, an easy-going temperament or even sensitivity towards you?
Obviously, he possesses certain other qualities or you wouldn’t love him, but is that enough?
How can you end the relationship and know it’s in your best interest if you do?
- Seek professional guidance. A counselor will help you understand how his behavior is affecting the relationship, give you insights into your needs and what steps you can take to move forward.
- Just remember, that it is impossible to change anyone else, unless they want to change. Your job is not to “fix” him and unless he’s ready or even aware, he will resist your suggestions.
- It’s scary to make a change. That fear can actually paralyze you into doing nothing. It can hold you hostage and keep you in your situation. Use your rational mind to examine the pros and cons of being in the relationship. Ask yourself, “Am I better off with him or without him?” And then move ahead with your gut feeling.
- Other things to ask yourself is, “How does he generally make you feel?” “How much more will you tolerate?” “What do you want from a relationship?”
Pay close attention to what you are telling yourself and how you process that information, because this can create balance in your life.
You will then be better prepared to embrace your challenges because you feel more in control and more secure in your judgment.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
You’ve given it all you’ve got. You’re tired of the disrespect, lack of being a priority, being used, ignored and/or the emotional, verbal or physical abuse. Your life force is draining out of you and your heart is broken. You spend more time sad and upset than peaceful and happy. Clearly, something has got to change.
You begin to recognize a voice inside of you is screaming for you to leave, but you can’t seem to take the next step.
- What’s stopping you?
- Why are you allowing yourself to stay in something that is clearly not adding value to your life?
- What belief have you attached to that is not letting you go?
The one thing I know for sure is the answer(s) will be based in fear.
Step 1: Locate the Fearful Beliefs
Six years ago I was faced with this exact dilemma. I was dating a man I felt was perfectly suited for me. (At least he was in the beginning) I fell madly in love with him.
Over time his interest, attention and respect began to wane.
Naturally I tried to bring up the obvious disconnection and distance, but he wanted no part of deep or emotional conversation. He even went as far to say, “You’re too good of a communicator.”
Forgive me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a good thing?
I tried everything I could to be a “good girlfriend”. I gave him plenty of space and I was happy, fun, sexual and spontaneous.
As long as I kept things superficial and “easy”, he was in. The minute I tried to discuss one of my needs, he was out.
At one point he even tried to change the status of our relationship from boyfriend-girlfriend to FB’s (friends with benefits). It became quite apparent this relationship was going nowhere.
That realization alone was heart breaking because I truly thought I had found my “lifer”. I knew what I had to do, but I just didn’t know how. I was frozen.
I asked myself the same questions above and I prayed and meditated like crazy for answers.
When I was finally quiet enough to hear my hidden fears here is what they said:
- This is your last chance at love. You will not get another chance.
- You are too old and not attractive anymore. No one will want you.
- No one will want a woman who has 3 children.
- No one will want a woman who is living with her sick and elderly parents.
- You are unsafe without a man. You must keep him no matter what.
It was clear fear was holding me back from taking an empowered step towards my future and each day I stayed, my self-worth and joy plummeted.
Take an honest inventory of the fears/false beliefs holding you back.
Step 2: Challenge and Reframe Your Fears/False Beliefs
Locating our fears is a fabulous first step, but it’s not over yet, Dear Ones. We must be willing to challenge the legitimacy of those beliefs and find alternate better feeling beliefs that are as true or truer to replace them with.
I immediately set course to challenge each belief that was holding me hostage.
I was able to reframe some of them on my own, but I was very attached to others. They felt so real I was having trouble releasing the stranglehold they had on me. So I took it to the only power I know is greater than me…
I asked God/Source/Universe to help me by showing me real life examples opposing each of my fearful thoughts.
Soon thereafter, I saw men falling in love with and marrying women who had five children not just three!
Reframe: There are men out there who will embrace his partner’s multiple children.
I had clients finding their soulmates at 62 years old!
Reframe: Love has no age limit.
I saw men supporting their women through tough life trials like financial strain, troubled children, difficult ex’s or ill parents.
Reframe: There is a man out there who will love me regardless of my life trials.
I was astonished to discover how untrue my fears really were.
Additionally, I learned that it was not my undying love for my partner that kept me frozen, but a paralyzing fear of the unknown.
When seeking to reframe our fearful thoughts, we must throw out the belief that freezes us and bring in the belief that frees us!
We must be willing to challenge the old, reframe it with truth and adopt the new empowering thought.
Step 3: Challenge your false beliefs.
Ask the Universe for help if needed. Believe and adopt your new belief.
Step 4: Be Your Own Advocate
Throughout life we are given situations where we have the choice to stand up for ourselves or diminish our worth and play small for another. Some people can be so good at gas lighting (manipulating us into questioning our own sanity) that we are unsure what is real.
However, we have a choice whether to accept their blame or not by going within and searching our soul for what feels Right and True for us.
There is not one person on this planet who can tell you anything that will minimize what your soul is telling you unless you allow them to.
Your soul knows the truth.
It does not question your worth nor does it accept the unacceptable. It lives on a plane deeper than the human mind can conceive. It always knows the right way to turn which means if you dig deep enough, you already know the right way to turn.
As Debbie Ford once said, “We have one soul to take care of and we must take care of it.”
The only person truly capable of taking care of you is you.
We must be willing to be our own advocate when something is amiss. We must be willing to do what feels right and true for us no matter what. There is no rule book that says we have to please the world (like we are so used to doing).
We must give ourselves permission to advocate for ourselves when our needs are not being met or we are being treated poorly. And that could very well mean courageously taking ourselves out of an unhealthy situation if so needed.
Step 5: Listen to what your soul is telling you and take the necessary steps to nurture and protect yourself.
No one enjoys the ending of a relationship. It can be one the most horrifically painful experiences to endure. However, staying in an unhealthy relationship will only eat away at our life force and kill our joy. We end up living a half-life rather than the full-life intended for us.
Dear Ones, it’s important to remember that the end of a relationship is not the end of your life.
Contrarily, by choosing to leave a dysfunctional, abusive or disrespectful relationship, you are owning your worth and telling the Universe:
I am worth more than this!
Kristen Brown, Certified Empowerment Coach/Mentor – www.kristenbrown.org
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