Many people have trouble separating or breaking up cold turkey. They will break up for a few days, get lonely or horny, contact their ex, and get back together. In a few hours or days, they miraculously recall in vivid detail why they broke up and then want out again. This cycle can be repeated dozens of times.
People will put themselves through this emotional roller coaster even if they know that the relationship or partner has become toxic to them. Intellectually they know they need to end the relationship, but emotionally they can’t bear the thought of moving on alone. They can’t imagine their life without their partner.
If this cycle of fights and breakups has gone on for months or years, it can take a toll on your judgment and your ability to distinguish between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. Until you get yourself emotionally strong, you won’t be able to see the relationship for what it truly has become.
The problem is that one or both partners didn’t give themselves enough time to adjust emotionally, gain strength, and get through any possible breakup withdrawal symptoms. Breakup withdrawal can produce some real symptoms that are very much like ending an addiction to a drug like alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine. For more information read this article entitled, “Breakup Withdrawal.”
The solution is a relationship break or trial breakup, as I like to call it. A relationship break will give you time to get through the emotional upheaval, regain your equilibrium, and reclaim your life and possibly yourself as well.
The relationship break or trial breakup plan is similar to the one I describe in this article entitled, “Toxic Love Relationships: How to Recognize & Escape Them.” I’ve tweaked it a bit to fit this situation. Here’s the plan.
Tell your partner (in your own words) that you feel it would be good for both of you to take a 30 to 90 day break from your relationship. Explain that the break would give both of you time to heal emotionally (from all the fighting), evaluate your true feelings, and make some hard decisions about your relationship.
To get the full benefits of the relationship break, you’ll need to agree to some ground rules. Without this agreement and understanding of how you’re going to do it, you’ll greatly reduce your ability to make some solid changes.
Keep in mind that this relationship break could lead to positive or negative changes in one or both partners and in the relationship itself. Or it could free you, your partner, or both of you from a toxic relationship or one that was just a bad match. So you’ll need to prepare for any possible outcome.
Here are the recommended ground rules for a relationship break or trial breakup.
Both partners agree to…
- Stop all contact and communication for a period of 30 to 90 days.
- Reset the clock if either person violates these conditions.
- Meet in a public location (park, restaurant) at the end of the break.
- Write a letter to each other and present it during the meeting. (Optional)
- Honor the decision of either partner who does not want to resume the relationship without any argument or repercussions.
Agreeing to meet at the end of the relationship break will give you the sense of security you may need while you adjust to the separation and/or get through the breakup withdrawal. It will also give you a firm target date for seeing them again, which should put you at ease.
A relationship break will almost certainly do several things. The emotional upheaval that you’ll likely experience during it will change you. Whether it’s a positive or negative change is entirely up to you. So be sure to choose constructive activities during this period and not destructive ones. This article entitled, “Breaking Up: How to Ride the Pain to Gain,” offers many ideas.
Once you start coming out of the separation or breakup withdrawal you will have a new perspective on your relationship. At that point, your ability to evaluate the relationship and your partner will be greatly improved. You’ll be able to make a sound decision on whether you should continue, renegotiate, or end the relationship.