The Art of the Breakup

Categories: Relationships, Trauma

This article is for anyone dragging out that overdone relationship to the very end of it's very sad existence. Yes I said it. Some relationships are just plain sad.  The joy has left the building (or it was never there in the first place).  Maybe you just recently woke up to the realization that your current romantic relationship isn't working.  Possibly you've known this for a really long time but chose to deny your feelings and keep participating. Either way,  you know who you are.  You are the woman (or man) that just cannot seem to end the relationship that is clearly not in her [his] best interest.  That's ok.  All relationships are about learning.  They are a way to understand ourselves better and ultimately become the people we strive to be.  

It's almost the new year and you are probably reading this because you want to refocus your priorities and let go of all the things (especially relationships) that no longer support you. Because relationships are such an important part of who we are, I want to spend some time on finding ways to make leaving a bad relationship a bit  easier. 

Acknowledge Relationships Are An Inside Job

When someone comes to me wanting help ending a relationship, they often enter therapy with a desperate sense of urgency to change their current arrangement.  You see, most people don't call a therapist until the stuff has hit the fan.  By then it's a matter of stopping a crisis rather than preventing one.  Outside of just telling people what to do (which is not what therapy is for), a quick resolution is not usually the case when it comes to relationships. 

Everyone coming into therapy wants results.  Me included.  However, relationships are tricky things that first require us to take a look at things like motivation, the way we relate to others, our communication style and how we experience pleasure (just to name a few).  I like  to explain to someone first coming into therapy that relationships always start with our relationship with ourselves.  They begin with an acknowledgement that the things driving our interactions ie thoughts and feelings often occur so quickly that we are unaware of why we do things at all. 

Therapy is about REALLY slowing all this down so that we can start improving the root cause of our relationship struggles - ourselves. When we start to understand this, then we can start to cultivate patience for the fact that our behaviors have yet to match up to our desires.  The more you understand your thoughts, the more you can make better choice. In the meantime, support yourself.  Be kind and patient along the way. 

Address Your Fear of Being Alone

The majority of people prefer not to be alone. There are clear biological reasons why being alone is legitimately not a good idea.  We know that feelings of loneliness can lead to serious chronic health conditions.  On a cellular level, our body gets terrified when we are isolated.  

But there is a difference between social isolation versus being content enough to stay home alone all weekend and occupy yourself...or be alone with your thoughts for a few hours with no distraction. Many clients are initially unable to understand how they can be alone both physically and emotionally.  That's where I am reminded why I love my job.  I get so excited knowing that once they realize they can have complete control over their emotional experience including how to induce feelings of support and safety without a partner, that they will look back on their current toxic relationship and wonder how they ever allowed such a thing to stay in their life. 

Let's start looking at your fear of being alone. 

  • What are some things you use as distraction? 
  • Why did you pick these things? 
  • What are you afraid of happening if you are alone with your thoughts? 
  • Are you having negative or critical thoughts about yourself? 
  • If so, how can you start to address that interal abuse?


Work on Being Honest

If you are in a relationship you identify as unhealthy, toxic or unsupportive, there is an element of deceit occurring from your side.  I am not trying to pass judgement and I completely understand that there are many reasons we stay in difficult relationships.  These can range from fear of being alone to fear of physical harm from our partner.  That said, it's best to acknowledge there is something stopping us from being 100% honest with those around us and ourselves.  

Set Yourself Up For Success

If you are in a relationship which is safe to exit, start to think about the reasons why you choose not to be fully honest with the person. Then start to make a list of the things you would need in order to step up and say what needs to be said. We always want to put ourselves in a position where we will be successful.  And success doesn't just come out of thin air.  There are always resources in place to help up achieve.  For example, do you have friends you can call for emotional support after a difficult conversation? Do you feel you have the internal support to build up your confidence after an argument? Do you need to work on saving up actual resources like money in order to safely leave? 


Focus on Your Future You

This is one of my all time favorite techniques taken from my training in hypnotherapy.  In hypnotherapy sessions we often have clients start to make a connection with the version of themselves they would like to be in the future. 

Is this relationship one you would want to be in in 5 or 10 years? 

When we start to use the power of creative visualization to shape our future, we start to feel drawn to do behaviors that line up with that vision. Your future you would want the very best for you.  She would want you to make the best choices for your growth.  She certainly wouldn't want you to waste your time (or your partner's time) in a relationship that was going nowhere. 

2018 is going to be a great year for you.  It is going to be a year where you step into the life you have always wanted and deserve. 


If you are in a dangerous relationship please find safety.  Contact

If you need counseling to work on improving your relationships: