A while back a dear partner determined their life was too complex to carry on our intimate relationship. Having only experienced breakups with bad behavior in the past, they approached me with anxiety. We had been friends for over a decade, but our increased level of intimacy was only six months old. They feared this break-up would flush our friendship down the toilet, but there was no huge fight and no name calling; just two old friends negotiating new boundaries.
When you begin a relationship, things are amazing and fun and exciting and intoxicating! No one will tell you to stop and ponder the end, but I think you should consider talking about it. Maybe not on the first date, but before saying “I love you.”
A discussion about past relationships and why they ended can give insight into how this person works in a relationship. If all their exes were the problem, you may end up being their next problem. Some people have rules about not remaining friends with exes or allowing partners to remain friends with exes. They may be prone to harboring resentments or feel possessive of mutual friends, social groups, or even locations. These can be red flags indicative of emotional immaturity.
So how does one go about negotiating the end of a relationship?
- Avoid making territorial agreements about shared spaces and mutual friends. Break-ups are not easy and adding drama with friends is a terrible way to draw it out. If you need a clean break, state your boundaries and negotiate that clearly.
- Don’t make promises you can’t or shouldn’t keep. Even during the beginning stages of a relationship.
- Take some time to determine if you really want to break up or if it’s a strategy to negotiate a problem with your partner or relationship.
- Make sure the newly negotiated relationship is truly acceptable to you. Don’t accept crumbs you really don’t want for fear of having nothing.
Afterwards . . .
- Utilize introspection and acceptance, and gratitude.
- Examine the lessons learned: Did communication falter? Were you really asking for what you needed? Did your goals align?
Each relationship is unique and each connection we make brings something different to our lives. Practicing gratitude for what each person has brought to your life helps you move on and be open to new opportunities.
The healthiest relationships are built on a foundation of mutual support and compassion. Sometimes that means those involved grow in ways that call for the relationship to end or change its shape. Every relationships ends! Whether in death, or at some point before that. I’ve found it helpful to examine the Buddhist concept of impermanence, known as anicca.
Learning to let go in healthy ways can make the transition easier on everyone.
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This post was written by guest blogger and relationship anarchist, Christina S., aka “Red.” She lives in Minneapolis where she spends her free time immersed in her favorite hobby: collecting new hobbies!