‘TRYING TO LEAVE YOU’ Stages (Part 1)

What’s happening to ‘us’?

PREVIOUS: “Getting to know you” (Part 5)

REVIEW: Relationship Continuum

BOOK :“Communication Patterns & Couple (Dis)satisfaction”.

Communication Indicators of DISSOLUTION
These 5 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 fix it.
It can take a long time to actually end (this approach is more likely to be used by people with anxiety)

b. …and more direct: the couple is likely to have arguments 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 ‘leaving’ 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 will talk about what has gone wrong in the relationship, & is able to clearly say “It’s over”,  accepting 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 Part 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, then more time apart….
This stage can occur when:annoying
• 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, iScreen Shot 2015-08-01 at 7.27.57 AMn 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

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