After one year of a wonderfully passionate and loving relationship, I decided to break things off.
- No phone calls.
- No email.
- No texts.
- No social media
A complete fast from my girlfriend. [Update 2020: She’s now my wife ;)]
Why did I go cold turkey with my lover, especially as Valentines Day was approaching?
Because I did not want to settle.
Isn’t that why most people back out of relationships–they fear settling for something or someone less than what they want in their heart of hearts.
Well, I’m no different. I hate having to settle.
So rather than passively accepting my very caring and comfortable relationship, I decided it was time to shake things up.
To be honest, we both decided it was in our best interest to step apart for a moment. She hates anything that’s not extraordinary as much as I do. The prospect of continuing the relational status-quo was simply not going to cut it.
This lead us where we are now: working alone but together to take our relationship to new heights.
Truth be told, we haven’t exactly “broken up”.
The relationship continues, just in a new form, one where we have consciously decided to cut each other out of the picture so we can observe how we relate in a new light.
It’s not a break-up but a re-up–an experiment in rejuvenating our bond.
Our hope is that our intentional separation provides an opportunity to reflect upon our emotional and behavioral habits towards each other.
Ultimately, we want to evaluate our behaviors/habits so we can strengthen those that are working and refashion those that are causing any undue stress, sadness, or frustration.
It’s like spring cleaning for our relationships:
- Toss out the old dusty patterns that have accumulated in corners we don’t visit often.
- Polish the beautiful objects we both hold dear.
- Picking up stuff lying around and asking, “Is this necesary? Do we still need this? What if we got rid of it?”
You may think this all sounds too much like couples therapy. In a sense it is. It is intendend to releive stress and create healing–from the inside-out.
However, unlike most couples who end up in therapy, this is proactive rather than reactive. Working in the “we” space with your partner when there are no gigantic demons knocking down the door is actually way more helpful than waiting for the choas before you start addressing the issues.
Instead of viewing this “Relationship Re-Up” as a final attempt to save something that was steadily falling apart, I see it as a preemptive intervention to strengthen something that you both feel is worth investing in. It’s like having “that conversation” before the need for that conversation even arises.
Thus we took the plunge into a temporary relational abyss. As an educator and health coach, the idea of a Relationship Re-up obviously appealed to my developmental sensibilities.
How I managed to get her to sign-on still befuddles me.
There were the obvious objections:
- You mean I can’t text you at all?
- What if something catastrophic happens?
- What will I do at night alone without you?
- What if you decided you’re happier without me?
The fears of being left high and dry crept in no matter how many times I reassured her I would not run away.
Despite the potential for stirring uncomfortable emotions, I think she knew deep down that this was going to be hugely beneficial to our relationship.
After all, who wouldn’t want to do something to facilitate communication, promote understanding, and encourage continual growth of themselves and their partner. It sounds too good to be true. Perhaps it is.
Borrowing the words of Bertrand Russell, “In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”
I’m not necessarily saying we took each other for granted. But sure enough, there are probably things that both of us do which are not fully acknowledged, appreciated or talked about. Every relationship has its blind-spots, and we want to bring light to them before they harbor resentment and stress.
We have both agreed that the focus is to remain on building positive future together rather than rehashing mistakes of the past.
We will use principles of non-violent communication to express how we feel so as not to send ego-defenses into overdrive.
And we will work together to generate a list of actionable steps to move forward in areas that require attention.
All the while, we have both assumed a positive intention behind everything that is said, even if it hurts.
To making good things better,
I’m Jeff Siegel, a wellness coach and mindfulness teacher, helping people upgrade their habits and improve the quality of their life.
If you’re interested in trying this experiment in outrageous loving and want some guidance on building a relationship that works, you can schedule a private 30-min consultation call with me.
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