WE’RE NOT the SAME, ANYMORE –
What’s happening to ‘us’?
PREVIOUS: “Getting to know you” (Part 3)
Communication Indicators of DISSOLUTION
These breaking-up stages are the ‘normal’ process of separating. The amount of time varies based on individual personalities, the length of the association & the type of relationship.
• The stages are listed ‘backwards’, from most intimate to most distant: #5 = Differentiation, 4 = Limiting, 3 = Stagnating, 2 = Avoiding, 1 = Terminating. The process applies to all types of relationships, not just romantic.
ENDINGS can be made by one or both parties:
▶ When it’s mutual ….
a. …but not openly acknowledged:
both people become less & less interested & there’s a gradual fading of interactions. There may be several attempt to -sort of- talk about it, & maybe one who is trying to fixing it.
Can take a long time to actually end (this approach more likely to be used by people with anxiety)
b. …and more direct: the couple are likely to have argument or fights, each blaming the other, OR separation is negotiated & agreed on (less likely to try repairing)
▶ When it’s one-sided ….
a. …if the end is in sight, & the person’s reaction is indirect – they’ll withdraw, avoid contact or get more annoying to be around, drop hints, try to be friends, manipulate
b. …if it’s more direct – the person has conversations about what has gone wrong in the relationship, is able to clearly say “It’s over”, accepts the reality
FOR ACoAs: Most of the time the ending of any relationship is painful & traumatic – from a job, an old friend, family member, sponsor, therapist… & even if it was with someone we met recently or with someone we barely like!
• OVERALL COMMENTS will be in Peer 3 &4.
▼ ACTS OF DISTANCING ▼
Normal: Two people begin to notice a gap in their togetherness, less ‘we’, more ‘me’ statements. “Working together’ is gradually replaced by separate activities.
“I don’t see how you can like that group!” >> “Well, I guess we’re not on the same page about that!” , “Why don’t we go dancing any more?” >> “You know I’m too busy”
Temporary separation is sometimes tried. The situation is uncomfortable & can lead to subtle disagreements or open fights, more time apart….
This stage can occur when:
• the relationship is still new-ish but the first idealized ‘bloom’ has worn off
• they’ve been together longer & one or both are disappointed in who the other turned out to be
• something they first found macho, adorable, attractive… in the other person, now drives them crazy
• for longer-term couples, their personal interests may have caused them to grow apart
• with too much one-ness, togetherness – one person misses a sense of individuality, feels resentful, held down, maybe suffocated
4. LIMITING (Circumscribing)
Normal: This stage has been called the ‘slow fade’, & is more likely to occurs in committed relationships, but not exclusively.
There’s a shift in the focus from each others’ differences to constricting & limiting communication, which decreases in amount & topics they talk about. It’s superficial, kept to ‘safe topics’ they know they can agree on & avoiding controversial subjects, in order to prevent fights
This inevitably leads to less & less real sharing.
“Who was that on the phone?” , “What are we having for dinner?” , “Do you like the food?” >> “It’s OK.”
• There’s a definite sense of not understanding each other any more, & their concern is with protecting themselves emotionally
• While still projecting a good public face as a couple, they’ve mostly stopped telling each other anything personal.
• Sexual intimacy disappears, & if there is fighting, it’s about not being heard,
NEXT: Part 2: Terminating; ACoAs Leaving