Drama. Deceit. Devastation. It’s not just reality TV, it’s the reality that most of us experience when we end a relationship, because we don’t and won’t leave our mate until we reach the point of hating, hurting and hardly speaking. Like a pit bull gripping its most beloved doggie toy, we believe that if we feel any ‘love’ at all for this person, we must stay, fight and make the relationship work. And only when we think that love is gone, do we concede and dive head first into the despair of the ‘bad breakup.’
We’ve have been doing it for centuries. Walking on coals, swallowing swords, whatever it takes, because love is supposed to conquer all. No matter if you are happy or this person is the best partner for your life, if you love each other you must stay and make it work, or keep trying until things get so bad that you can justify the ending, right? Wrong!
The crazy line of thinking has kept people in stuck in relationships and suffering through bad breakups for way too long, telling ourselves, “If I love this person, and they love me, that’s enough, no matter how exhausted, unhappy or lonely I feel.” Even if we know they will never be a true partner, we hang around because we “love them.” But love should never require sacrificing one’s self or forfeiting our joy or life dreams. And frankly, it’s not enough, because the truth is:
You can love a person and choose not to be with them. Love is not enough of a reason to stay in a relationship.
I figured this out the hard way, after my epic bad breakup, which took the storyline of my fiancé announcing on the car ride to our engagement party, “I don’t love you anymore. I don’t want to marry you anymore. And, oh by the way, I’ve been cheating on you for six months.” Drama. Devastation. And Ouch!
After the sting of having my heart broken faded some many months later, I realized that my bad breakup would have been totally avoidable if I had only known the truth and some really simple but good rules for breakups!
Lie: You shouldn’t break up until you’ve fallen out of love.
Truth: Once you love someone, you love them forever. People fall out of trust, intimacy, and respect – not love.
“I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” How many of us have either heard or uttered those words as we walked head first into a bad breakup? Those words are such a cop out. People don’t fall in and out of love, as if love can be measured. What they do fall out of is trust, intimacy and respect, and usually for good reasons. The problem is that those reasons never get communicated to our partner because we use phrases like “I’m just not in love with you any more.” And when someone tells you they just aren’t in love with you any more, there is really nothing you can do about it, so it leaves the receiver feeling confused and just plain awful, and it lets the person doing the breaking up feel somehow better about what they are doing.
Good Breakup Rule: During a breakup, take ‘love’ out of the equation. Be honest about the real “why’s” this relationship is no longer working, which have nothing to do with love. It’s okay to love each other and still choose to end your relationship, in fact it’s the best way. And while the breakup will still be sad, it won’t be dramatic or deceitful.
Lie : If we loved each other more, we would be able to make this relationship work.
Truth: Love is only a prerequisite. Great relationships take authentic partnerships, and they require much more than love.
When we get asked why we want to marry or be with “this guy or girl,” most of us retort almost automatically, “Because I love them.” While it sounds like the right answer, make no mistake, it’s a danger signal that you’ve created a relationship based on ideal love versus the authentic partnership actually required for long-term happiness and relationship success. Authentic partnerships are full of respect, trust, truth, friendship, intimacy and unconditional love. And you’ve got to put energy into each of these to keep your relationship working for you.
Good Breakup Rule: Be honest about your what your relationship lacks, and what the two of you are capable of creating together, before the breakup even happens. Assess on a scale of 1-10 how well your relationship scores on the each of the six indicators of an authentic partnership: respect, trust, truth, friendship, intimacy and unconditional love. If you score less than an 8 any individual indicator, you have some work and soul searching to do. Getting real, ask yourself, “Can this relationship and the people in it create a deep level of “insert indicator.” If the answer is no, it could be time to start a good breakup. If the answer is yes, it’s time to talk with your partner and start creating the relationship you really want, together.
Lie: If the relationship ends, we have failed.
Truth: The failure is overstaying in a relationship.
Good Breakup Rule:
Be honest with yourself and each other when it’s time to end your romantic relationship. Talk to each other instead of resorting to behaviors that cause drama, deceit and devastation. Your goal is NOT to become the next reality TV show, but to use the power of unconditional love and respect (that you hopefully started the relationship with) to gracefully transition out of this romantic relationship. Remember, you both want the best for each other, don’t you?
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Christine Arylo, an m.b.a. turned writer, speaker and transformational teacher, is an inspirational catalyst who teaches people how to put their most important partnership first, the one with themselves, so that they can create the love and life their hearts and souls crave. The popular author of Choosing ME before WE, Every Woman’s Guide to Life and Love www.mebeforewe.com, and the upcoming book Madly in Love with ME, the Daring Adventure to Becoming Your Own Best Friend (Nov 2012), Arylo is affectionately known as the “Queen of Self-Love.” She created Madly in Love with ME, the international day of self-love (Feb 13), dedicated to making self-love a tangible reality for people around the world. Check out her free Self-Love Kit at www.ChooseSelfLove.com