I don’t know about you but I never stop loving someone. There’s still a place in my heart for my first girlfriend, who is still a good friend, and for the girlfriend where our relationship went down in a dramatic inferno. The fact that love doesn’t let go too easy is the reason that so many flame out in their relationships. Arming ourselves with anger and hatred can be a powerful shield in the confusing situations we find ourselves in where we feel loving yet incompatible.
Faced with loving irreconcilability many people begin to engineer reasons for a relationship to fail, and ways to drum up the feelings of anger and resentment that can help mask over love and propel us out of situations that aren’t working for us anymore. Yet the damage we do to ourselves and others in these rocky exits can leave deep wounds and leave us not just disconnected romantically but also amicably from someone who used to be our best friend and not just our lover. It can also part us from mutual friends, connections to shared interests, places, and more.
A friend once said to me “if things didn’t end badly, they wouldn’t end.” I think this is a cynical and immature view (sorry friend). I think we should endeavor to end things with love. This doesn’t mean without pain. In fact it requires that you be truly present to your pain and the pain of your partner.
Anger, resentment, bitterness, and many other of their ilk can be ways we try to harden ourselves to pain but they are unfortunately not resolutions for it. I wish I could say that I have had only the healthiest endings to my closest relationships but I haven’t. However those relationships where we have been able to connect with our love for one another while we change our relationship, have been the ones where I have grown the most and done the most healing instead of wounding.
To transform your relationship instead of ‘breaking up’:
1. Make a commitment to love in yourself.
Open your heart up to love and recognize that it isn’t just about starry eyed romance and candied words. Love is also about mutual respect, listening, compassion, and quiet.
2. Act with Love by Acting with Integrity.
Share honestly and deeply. Use your best communication and listening skills to make the space you need first to express what you need and then to receive, without judgment, the reactions and responses of your partner. You will gain nothing by holding back. Renew your commitment to love and compassion and keep moving forward.
3. Make a commitment to love together.
Though love may be what you feel is most waning in your relationship, it is important that both you and the one you are stepping away from decide to act with love toward one another now. Perhaps not the love you shared when you first came together, but the love for another human being with whom you have shared much. If there is lots of pain it’s important to recognize that in many ways this has born out of love, and though you could not maintain it together or its time has perhaps concluded in its role as romance, it was and still can be in some way present between you.
4. Be open to pain.
This is something I write about a lot, because it is so important. If you’re going to be open to love you need to be open to pain. This does not mean sacrificing yourself before it, but instead recognizing that both of you are going to feel a lot and deeply. The greater the worth, the greater the pain. Recognize however that you are capable of dealing with and processing pain.
5. Have true love and support.
While dealing with pain its important to have support around you. In some very mature cases you can offer much of this to each other. The more you can, while maintaining integrity, the more potential there is to heal and grow a new love together in the new form of your relationship. Beyond your partner, engage the community around you to help build and renew your own inner strength and compassion.
6. Be patient.
With yourself and with your partner. It takes time to transition. Know that your feelings will take time to transform and find new expressions and new homes even if the logistics and hard life aspects of the transition happen very quickly. Also be compassionate that things may move at different speeds for you and your former lover. It may move quickly for you and slowly for them, or vice versa. It’s natural and ok. Let it be and refer to step 1.
Every situation has its own challenges and not all can be resolved as maturely and amicably as we would desire, yet no situation is harmed by a judicious application of love and a pause to stay centred and supported.
Good loving and moving on everyone.