As a relationship coach I am all about trying to preserve a connection. Not all relationships are feasible to preserve or even reshape. Sometimes it simply better for two people to transition from romance to friendship. Sometimes a friendship can not be achieved. But in most cases the parting can be less traumatic and more compassion filled.
In coaching someone in their romantic relationship my first question is “ do you really want this connection? If you do, convince me how badly you want it, why you want it and I can help you. If you don’t we are both wasting our time.” How they answer me depends if I work on coaching the techniques to rebuild relationships or uncoupling in a way that causes the least damage.
From my personal experience….
As someone who has consciously uncoupled once successfully I can tell you it is not easy. My most recent boyfriend made it nearly impossible to do compassionately and I lost complete contact. It was still easier because of my knowledge and no drama from my side.
My first experience with conscious uncoupling was with my romantic relationship of 12 years. It was HARD. You will likely have VERY little support. Hiring a coach for it might be helpful. People are mostly against. They think you are together because you are not hating and still cordial. Because you are not hostile and fighting it adds more confusion. It is completely confusing when people are trying to intervene. Black and white thinking of love and hate is easier to process. It’s normal. Most people will NOT get it. Trust me. Please have that expectation. There were two options for me to deal with it.
A) Get Your Adult Panties
TRAIN people how to treat you. Tell them “you will not talk negatively about my friend who was once my lover/husband/ partner like that. This is between the two of us and we want your support in choosing more loving behavior. I know you are trying to help me let go and make me feel better. I don’t feel better demeaning people. It hurts my heart to talk in a hateful manner. Revenge does not make me happy and I have no desire to seek it. It the primitive part of the human mind to react this way. Neither of us is perfect. There is no villain and angel. I am making a choice to do differently than normal. ”
Or “It simply is not your business how we should be or what we should do. It is our choice. This is a friendship first and foremost for 14 years! Telling me how I should conduct this friendship is frustrating to me. I am not going to toss that away fighting in court over money and business.”
Or simply don’t have the conversation. Unless someone is trained in human behavioral studies they are unlikely to understand the complexities of your situation or relationship.
B) Have The Expectation People Will Not Understand
I don’t feel like I owe my family or really anyone an explanation. My family will never get it. Most of my friends don’t understand. I accept that and don’t force them into a mold or resent them for it. It is what it is. They know I am weird. No one brings up trying to tell me what to do. They know talking to me is a waste of their time. I listen compassionately but I don’t obey their wishes. If the communication gets voilent I step back until they calm down. Then say “no you will not speak to me like this. And I am doing my thing.” I think for myself. Yes, your family will call you everything from stupid to selfish. Ignore it.
It means I still do things with my ex as a friend. We hang out, show up places together… including to my family and his family. The respect and care between us is evident. We choose how we relate to each other. No one makes that choice for me. If I have a boyfriend/partner he is aware my ex is part of my life and means a lot to me. If a guy is not mature enough to have open loving conversations with me, willing to work through the discomfort compassionately….. which I make easy and willingly give space to process with no judgement. My ex is willing to talk or have dinner with a boyfriend to help any jealousy or distress it may cause a potential partner of mine. There is nothing to hide or be afraid of. I do the same for him. If a guy can’t move past the reality my ex is like family to me he simply is not emotionally or intellectually mature enough to build a partnership with me. It’s that simple for me. I can give that to a my partner as well. I will not be hostile or crazy about ex’s of his. Or female friends in his life. Every person comes as a package deal with hurt, pains, a past, things we disagree with, things that create fear in us, people in there lives that might seem threatening…. love in real life is anything but perfect.
Is it easy? NO. It is HARD transversing all the gray space. Really, really hard. Not for the faint at heart and not possible for every relationship. It takes a lot of intelligence and compassion.
Did it just magically happen? NO. It takes a 1000’s of small loving choices to create harmony from two people who landscape of relating is changing. It takes facing the ego and lots of pain to push past limiting beliefs and the brain fighting against more conscious choices that are different from our programming.
We ended up loving each other how we are versus our idealized version of each other. Though life pain we still showed up for each other. He got sick and I spent months at his side. All my plans and passions went on the back-burner to help support him and his business (a business we started together). I don’t regret it despite the painful lessons I learned. He held me though the times I wanted to my life. I owe him my life. That is a large part of my friendship to him. I learned about the darkest parts of myself that needed healing. Sometimes the pain of growth was so painful it was suffocating. Sometimes we sucked it up completely. Sometimes it just sucks. So does like every relationship ever. 🙂 Yet with every hard moment came more sunshine and understanding of each other. I joke that I did not know love or how to love until I consciously uncoupled. There is so much truth in that joke. “Love” is easy when we are getting something we want. But love becomes much harder when we are not getting exactly what we desire and things don’t go according to plan
Is it worth it uncoupling consciously? YES a millions times. You will learn the BEST life lessons and create something really exceptional that has less trauma, pain and resentments. Hopefully you can preserve a mutually beneficial friendship in the end.
I recommend reading Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After. It is filled with practical tips and other people stories that are inspiring. It had a huge impact on my coaching and cultivated an even more compassion filled way of relating. My only wish is that I would have found this book many years earlier.
May we learn to love better, let go and support each other through this journey called life. ❤