As a men’s relationship coach many believe that I am a die hard advocate for men being in relationship, and while I do care about men being in relationships I am actually more committed to men being in the right relationship.
“When is the right time to end a relationship” and “how do I know if I should stay with it” are common issues men deal with, especially when going through a rough patch.
I believe that there are moments when it’s entirely appropriate to end your relationship.
But I also believe in doing everything in your power to make it work as well, to give it all you’ve got so that when you leave you know you held nothing back. This last point is important because though I am not attached to couples staying together, I do believe that how you leave one relationship, will carry over into your next one.
And it’s because of that, I advocate that you should do everything that’s in your power to make sure that if you are going to leave or end your relationship you should make sure that you’ve done everything you can and know to do to make it work.
(A caveat about that last statement – I’m not advocating you fight for a relationship that’s abusive in any way. If your safety is at risk, you should leave and leave immediately.)
So what does ‘doing everything you can’ look like?
How does one actually go about making sure that they did everything in their power to make it work?
Some of the exercises that I have my clients go through include :
- Seeing where they are blaming or shaming their partner
- Looking for where is there resent present in the relationship
- Finding where there regret
This is by no means an exhaustive list there are lots of other exercises one can do and depending on the client’s situation, I may have them do all of them or only a few, but this is a good place to start.
Here’s a more detailed look about what some of these mean.
Where are you blaming or shaming your partner?
This one seems a tad obvious but I’ve found that sometimes things being obvious doesn’t mean that it is clear, in fact sometimes something being so obvious is a reason we overlook it.
Here’s why this is important in regards to leaving the relationship – It gives you an opportunity to take full responsibility.
Responsibility is distinct from blame – responsibility is an opportunity for you to own your part in the relationship not working. It’s never just one person who is responsible for conflict or things being off in the relationship – it’s always both parties.
However, there is a lot of personal power and freedom that can be found if you don’t relate to things being off as something your partner is responsible for and instead take full responsibility for the way the relationship is (or is not) meeting expectations.
This leaves you in a place where you’re able to do something about it, whether it’s have a conversation or take a specific action, rather than be at the affect of it.
Either way, when I can see where I’m responsible for something, I’m empowered.
Where is there resent?
This is such a big thing in regards to relationships and in fact I believe that resent is the biggest reason relationships fail.
Resentment is a perfectly normal experience to have in a relationship – it’s how we deal with it that’s important.
Resentment comes from an unmet expectation from our partner (or the relationship itself), usually we feel that they hurt us in some way by not acting or reacting to a situation in a way we deem appropriate and meets our expectations.
Most couples deal with resentment by burying it, not talking about it and think that over time those feelings will just go away.
The problem with this approach is that you and your partner are never really free of your resentment and as a result relive it over and over and over.
Anytime your partner does something that reminds you of that incomplete incident it triggers a whole bunch of unprocessed emotions and as a result we project those emotions onto the present situation.
So why is it important to deal with them?
Because if you don’t and break up, what’s going to happen is those same experiences will become a trigger point in your next relationship and you will end up dealing with the same issues as your last one. You literally carry the habit with you from person to person- no matter who they are.
So how do you deal with resentments? The most effective way I’ve found is to take responsibility for my own resentments and also see if there is some way I can understand my partner’s feelings about theirs.
The thing most people fail to realize is that although your partner may have acted in a way that was sub optimal in your mind, it was still your choice to become resentful, hold a grudge or get triggered. No one can make you feel anything and so we must own the part we play in creating and sustaining the resentments that we do.
(For more on resentment check out this piece here)
The next one I have men look at is their regrets.
What regrets do you have?
This can be a pretty long list for some guys. I think we are all overly critical of ourselves, especially when we fail to meet our own standards that we’ve set for ourselves.
Making a list of all the things that you regret with regards to your relationship – all the places that you failed to act appropriately, say the right thing or just places where you know you’ve fucked up and aren’t proud of can be a very powerful healing tool when used properly.
Sometimes all it takes is to get present to them and be willing to relive the hurt, other times you may find yourself needing to have a conversation to apologize to your partner about how you behaved or restore the lack of trust.
The thing about doing all this work is, sometimes it’s effective in having the couple fall back in love. They realize that they let all of their views, judgements and emotions cloud their view of their partner and as a result of that, “fell out of love”.
Often times, just doing this work will make a huge difference in how the couple relates to each other and see each other.
If that doesn’t work, at least it gives both parties an opportunity to start with a clean slate elsewhere.
Furthermore, the breakup, when it happens will be a lot more amicable because the issues that were clouding the past weren’t there anymore and both you and your partner can acknowledge each other for the growth and love that each provided during your time together.
To me, is the best way to break up, when it’s completely mutual and full of love – so you both are free to then explore what else is out there for you without baggage or issues of past relationships clouding who you are now or who you are going to date next.
What are your thoughts on breaking up? What’s worked for you? Leave me a comment below and tell me your thoughts!
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