[02/26/24] Mind-Body Monday: Conscious Uncoupling: Peaceful Separation

How to end a relationship in a way that not only enables you to be friends, but to feel gratitude for the time you spent together and hold grace for the other person.


Today I want to talk about what uncoupling means and how it differs from “breaking up” or “divorcing” or simply just “ending” a relationship. Generally, the end of a relationship holds a lot of disharmony. There can be resentment, anger and grief, otherwise why would you end it, we think? Why would it be necessary to end a relationship if you weren’t pissed at your partner, or felt unheard, unwanted or betrayed? We are often so deeply committed to committing in a relationship that we will stay in a disharmonious one to keep ourselves from being alone or looking bad to others, or breaking a vow. 


Uncoupling requires a different look at the nature and purpose of relationships, let’s break it down. When you uncouple, the goal is to unlink the chain without harming it or each other. To separate your lives as compassionately as you can without compromising your innate needs. Being respectful for one another, especially if it is not a joint decision, as it often isn’t. Sometimes you or they may realize that the time has come to go your separate ways, before the other person agrees with the decision. This requires even more love and compassion.


We don’t need to end a relationship with emotional violence. We don’t need to prove to ourselves or anyone else that someone is not what we want. We don’t need to have anyone take sides on our behalf. No one needs to be a villain to uncouple a relationship. You can simply be two people, who have a soul’s need to find and heal yourself outside of what the relationship allows. Now, oftentimes there is a great deal of codependency, especially in a long term relationship. One person caring for another in ways they don’t want to, or controlling, or another person feeling helpless that they aren't caring for themselves or have personal autonomy. 


If you have ever been in love, you have likely found that there are many potential pitfalls in loving someone, and we must be gentle with ourselves and with the other person as we seek to uncouple the relationship we lovingly created, and maybe thought would never end.


It is okay to love someone and still not want to live with them. It is okay to end an intimate relationship and still want a friendship. If the focus is on loving yourself and the other person, then healing will occur. Be as gentle as you can to you both. Take as much time as you need, no matter what anyone else may think. By uncoupling, the goal we seek is to not wait until it feels more like escaping. Instead we have chosen to lovingly release the bonds and boundaries that have kept us from being as happy as we deserve to be. Because that is what we are here, incarnated, to do. To be happy. Not necessarily to be married or to be a parent, or to own a home or to be a person of some significance or anything else you might have imagined was destined for your future. You are here to discover yourself. To learn. To love, and to be happy, and that must always take precedence over any rule or rite of societal laws or expectations.


Now of course it is helpful to have started with a healthy relationship with another person. However, in order to have that, we had to be a healthy person we coupled, and very often we’re not. Sometimes, maybe even unconsciously we were looking for our “other half”. A person to complete us, and that’s a lot of pressure on another human being to start a relationship with ;) When we do that It creates a constant seeking to feel better about us, through or because of them. We become hyper vigilant about behaviors that don’t align with our needs because we are unconsciously expecting this completely separate person to think and act like us, in order to feel secure with them. 


Have you ever noticed that the closer the relationship you are in, the more demanding you become?  We believe that the person we choose to let behind our walls, needs to keep us safe, and we think that happens by having them think and act in the ways we do. This level of intimacy oftentimes creates a need for a level of control. Have you ever noticed that we are far more forgiving of our friends than we are to our family, and less forgiving still of misdeeds from our spouses or significant others? Have you ever thought to yourself, why can’t my partner be as nice to me as they are to our friends?


Let me give you an exaggerated example. Imagine you have a friend that occasionally loves to go out and get plastered at the bars and drunk has made some risky decisions. They are a wonderful person despite this and you like them dearly, even if you don’t approve of this behavior. However, it’s not “your life” you think, so they can do whatever they want. You may not agree with their choices but you give them the freedom to make them, and still remain your friend. 


Now, let’s imagine that this is a sibling and not a friend. You would likely have more concern and even judgment about getting wasted at a bar. You might think that this was not okay or indicative of how your family raised you, and you might worry that they would get themselves in trouble or even harm themselves. You might want to have a conversation or even an intervention if it was concerning enough. You certainly would be unlikely to have the same level of aplomb as you did thinking about a friend. You would be more attached to the outcome and behavior in direct proportion to your attachment to the sibling or family member.


Now imagine that this is your bf, gf or spouse. Woah! Now, this is definitely not okay anymore. The reason for this is that when we enter into a relationship we often unknowingly think of our partner as a reflection of ourselves, sometimes even more than they are their own individual person. Their words and actions have a direct effect on how we see ourselves and how we perceive them. If this is not something you would do, then it definitely is not something they should do.  Sometimes, it can even affect your perception of the value of their love for you.


So, the first thing we need to recognize is that our partner is not a part of us. They are not our missing piece. We need to be whole and complete or we will continually attach ourselves to someone else who isn’t, and suffer because now we feel we have to control another human being, in order to feel safe and happy. This never works. 


A person is not going to change more than 10% of who they are, for, or on behalf of, anyone else. To change any more than that, would require that they have their own motivation for the change that has meaning for them and perhaps nothing to do with you. I have heard it said that It is easier to find someone who already fits you and your needs than it is to find someone who will change themselves to become what you want. And that is one of the biggest problems we face in relationships. Focusing on the other person and expecting them to change, vs focusing on ourselves, and what would make us happy that we can control. Our healing, our growth, and our own innate feeling of safety within ourselves.


In addition, we need to understand that no complete and healthy person is going to compliment our lives, or be what we want, or love, more than 85% of the time. At least 15% of them will be annoying to us. At least 15% of the time we will be questioning our choices and shaking our heads, and that’s okay. That’s entirely reasonable and expected for two whole and completely different human beings.


So, imagine that you haven’t learned to find and love yourself before you got into a relationship. So you are working on it within a relationship. In order to love someone completely, you must learn to love yourself. Simply put, If you don’t find yourself loveable and worthy of respect, then how could someone else?


Ask yourself, would you want to be in a relationship with you? Do you admire yourself? Do you enjoy your own company? If the answer is no, then whether you are in a relationship or not, it’s time to work on you. Get into therapy. Work on your trauma and your insecure or avoidant attachment behaviors. Meditate, pray, journal, join a supportive group, read the books that support your needs to heal. Change yourself and your life into one that you do appreciate, and you are more likely to attract a person you respect. 


Remember, one of the laws of the universeis: like attracts like. You cannot resonate the energy to attract someone of a different vibration than your own. If you want a hero, then you need to be one. Otherwise you will likely manifest a “fixer” who will have their own issues with self love, and thus the relationship could always remain in a broken pattern of victim, rescuer and persecutor. If learning more about that interests you, check out the Karpman Drama triangle online to understand what I mean by this.


As with love, the same goes with trust. If you don’t trust your partner, it is likely you don’t trust yourself for one reason or another. Maybe you struggle with trusting yourself because you've picked someone in the past or present who has behaviors that make you uncomfortable or unhappy. If you are untrusting to begin with then the universe will likely give you a relationship to validate your beliefs on trust. To use some tropes, If you think that all men are faithless or all women fortune hunters, you will likely attract someone to validate that belief, and look for signs until you find them.  We always attract what we believe, for good or for ill, over what we actually want. 


So, what if you have done your personal work focusing on yourself over your partner’s perceived shortcomings and you still are unhappy. Maybe the pain of the past prevents you from being able to move on, unfettered by old wounds or resentments, or maybe you find yourself falling out of liking them, even if there is still love.


If you have worked on loving yourself you might find that an unhappy relationship is not worth staying in, even for the kids, or the house, or the community you have built together. Maybe it’s not even worth the safety or security you have found in the relationship. Whatever reasons you have, if you cannot be happy with yourself in the relationship, this far outweighs your happiness or lack of with them. 


Ask yourself if you like who you are in the relationship? Do you find yourself obsessing over someone else’s thoughts and behaviors over healing yourself? Do you wake up or go to bed regretting your life choices? Do you carry the weight of resentments that you cannot seem to let go of? We often do, and this affects our mental and emotional health more than we realize?


There is a powerful analogy for a relationship that I personally refer to for myself and people I work with, that I want to share with you. A relationship is like a door, created between two people; it exists as a bridge connecting two separate lives. It is as strong as you have forged it to be. When there are fights or disagreements it is like hammering a nail into the door. Each fight, each refusal to give in, to trust or be open and honest hurts the connection.  Each bit of harm is a piercing of that door of love. When there's an apology, or forgiveness it can be like pulling the nail out. But, what we often fail to realize is that the hole sometimes remains.


Now with this awareness and intent, you can do work to patch these holes and create dynamics to prevent others. You can create a door of patchwork over the years, making it even stronger in some places. But, sometimes there are simply too many holes in the door. Sometimes, you recognize that the relationship will not stand the way it is, and thus the bridge you built has crumbled and cannot be shored up anymore.


That is the time that you might decide to uncouple. To imagine the release of two links in a chain, separating it into two distinct strands that now must be their own. Choosing to uncouple before there is deep resentment is far healthier than waiting until your frustration and fear turns into loathing or misery. By then it is not a release it is more of an escape and the thought of healing yourself or the wounds of the relationship may seem an impossible dream that the you of today can’t comprehend. The resentments have grown so great that you can’t imagine even remembering the love. The power of your joining fades in the more recent memories of your pain. This is a far greater loss of self, time, purpose and value than an uncoupling will create.


A powerful reward of uncoupling is you get an opportunity to discuss with your ex-partner how you showed up for them, and how you didn’t. How they felt about you and your behaviors as much as how you felt about them and theirs. There’s nothing to lose in being completely honest. You are no longer sacrificing your emotional health to stay in the relationship, and now you can do the work to discover how you were perceived by them and by yourself. 


Instead of a break-up causing you to run away, distract, avoid, sink into despair, you get the opportunity to build on the foundation you originally created. A new door of friendship and common care. A relationship of love over need, trust over fear and perhaps you will even like each other and become better friends than you ever were. Love may not be enough to heal a relationship, but it is always enough to heal a soul. Choose love. For yourself first and then you will find you have enough for everyone else.