PV Mirror, July 3-9, 2011, issue # 91, pg 21

When couple’s split up, it is always for a reason. At least one partner really felt the need to leave. For some people, it usually takes a lot of courage. They struggle as the days and weeks drag on, wondering what they should do, enduring the unhappiness, the arguments, or the indifference of one or both of them, until finally they muster up enough courage to decide to leave. Some leave without giving their partner any warning while others discuss it first. Many that leave without warning know that is for their own safety, for instance, in a domestic violence situation where they fear their partner’s reaction, and other’s because they know their partner would succeed in convincing them to stay and so they protect themselves from that vulnerability.

I respect and admire the strength and courage it takes for someone to leave a relationship. It is much more difficult than when both partners agree that it’s the best thing to do or that it’s what they both want.

I also empathize immensely with the pain the partner left behind is feeling. They are usually very sad and devastated. Many are very angry and many want to fight to save the relationship. Now they want to try harder than ever to fix things. Ironically, once their partner is gone, they begin to pay more attention than ever to their partner. They frantically call, leave messages, send numerous e-mails, make contact on facebook, etc. Suddenly their partner is the center of every thought. They are consumed by how to get him/her back.

In many cases this is a very positive response and can produce some fabulous results. Their partner leaving is exactly what they needed to bonk them on the head and wake them up out of whatever minimization and denial they were living in or to shake them free from their rigid point of view that they spent the past months or years defending, therefore refusing to change. This gives the couple exactly what they’ve been waiting for; a chance to seriously and honestly work on the relationship issues that brought them to this point.

In other cases, the partner who left really is finished. They are sure they don’t want their partner chasing after them or convincing them to work on anything. In their minds, they are already planning their future, free of the relationship and the stress and pain and it caused. They have no interest in looking back, no matter if it hurts and they are crying every day; no matter how much they still love their partner. They know they made the right decision. They sincerely do not want their partner chasing after them, begging to fix things. They really do want to be left alone. Many ask specifically for the respect to not be contacted.

This is very hard for the partner left behind to accept. It feels passive, like their hands are tied. They don’t want to just sit back and accept it. They really struggle with respecting their partner’s request for no contact and with accepting the inevitable collapse of the relationship. Even without any contact, they still spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to do to save the relationship. It is very difficult for them to accept they are in a situation over which they have no control; that they are powerless to change the outcome. Surrendering is the last thing they want to do. And yet,it is exactly what they must do; what theyare being challenged to do.

Most of us react strongly when we are about to lose something or someone by clinging tighter than ever before. “It” all of a sudden gains importance and priority. All we can see or feel is how much we don’t want to suffer loss (in this case, the relationship). We are so blinded by the need to prevent such a loss that we cannot see how it might be best for us or our partner. We don’t even stop to consider all of the good that may come from such a loss. How would our life change and improve? How would we grow? What opportunities would come our way? What ones could we now be open to or be free to embrace?

Nothing changes if nothing changes. If you both continue with the same dynamics as before, how do either of you move on? Set each other free and see what happens.

I have so many friends and myself included who have gone through break-ups and moved onto many new exciting adventures. One friend traveled throughout Europe with her next boyfriend, another moved out of town and got her master’s degree, another met a guy from Spain and they share going back and forth for at least a month at a time. I have other friends who have left emotionally and verbally abusive relationships and now say they don’t know why they stayed so long and that they forgot what it was like to be happy. I know guys that were free to attract and accept wonderful career opportunities because they were free to make the decision and devote the time. One guy said he didn’t know relationships could be so satisfying.

What are you supposed to learn?

Also consider what you are supposed to learn from this opportunity. Learning to set or respect limits and boundaries is a huge one, especially if you are the one sending daily e-mails when your partner has specifically said “no contact”. Learning how to control your impulsivity and need to react immediately to something they told you or 5 of her friends told you. Imagine learning not to manipulate what they see on facebook or actually learning to go through a whole day thinking of yourself and your work without obsessing about your partner. Imagine the possibilities of your personal growth if you would accept the need for it and embrace the challenges and endure the pain of change.

If you really love your partner, shouldn’t you want what is best for them and what makes them happy?

If you love yourself, shouldn’t you start being really honest and admit what makes you happy and what you want and are no longer willing to tolerate in your life and in a relationship? Make a complete list of the things that were good and bad in the relationship. Make yourself aware of the things you do not want to repeat in the next relationship. Explore this past relationship and make a list of the things you did wrong to contribute to the problem and consider how to correct them. Embrace this crisis as an opportunity to grow and change and to improve yourself.The healthier you are, the healthier the person you will attract in the future.

Written by: Giselle Belanger, RN, LCSW