‘TRYING TO LEAVE YOU’ Stages (Part 2)

cutting strings

I GUESS THIS IS GOODBYE 😦How could this happen to me!?)

PREVIOUS: Intro, Differentiating, Limiting, Stagnating (#1)



Normal: They’re still together, but with a feeling of being stuck & not knowing how to make it better or how to get out. There’s not enough meaning or nourishment to keep it alive, but being in a long-term or committed relationship makes it harder to consider leaving. They feel disconnected & depressed/ but stay together to avoid the pain of separation
• Some kind of talk is needed but if either hints at starting an unpleasant conversation, they’ll find a way of preventing it so they don’t have to invest any feelings

• They have little to say to each other, are bored with the same old stories, don’t want any stagnatingconfrontation, & won’t talk about the relationship because it feels pointless

“Do you want to watch that program?” >> “No, but you go ahead” , “I don’t want to hear that again” >> “I know, you’re not interested in what I have to say!”

• One or both may be experiencing personal problems & possibly blame the other, rather than facing their own issues. But when people are no longer getting their needs met from their partner, they shut down the lines of communication & turn elsewhere

• People can start punishing each other for their own disappointment & loneliness: Well, she/he hasn’t helped me in a long time, so I’m not doing this for her/him”
– may be the kind of thinking behind further withdrawal.


Normal: The 2 people have been in a committed relationship, but no longer see themselves in the dyad. They’ve withdrawn their emotions & are ‘spending‘ them elsewhere. Deep emotional distance is an indicator that the union is no longer salvageable. Each person knows in their mind  & heart they’ve detached, & need to protect themselves

• They reorganize their lives to avoid being together & may even verbalize it: “I don’t want to talk to ____”.
It can also show up by sleeping in separate beds or rooms, & one or both looking for a new place to live

• People not living together will avoid calls, emails & texts.
“Leave me a message & I’ll get back to you” , “I’m really busy, so I’m sure you’ll understand if we don’t get together this week”

Usually there’s less fighting, but what’s left may be sniping, sarcasm, put-downs. Otherwise, communication is only about practical necessities, if at all

Normal: This stage can be done rather quickly or be dragged out for years.
• It is the actual physical leaving of the relationship with a little or a lot of psychological finality. If both parties can accept this, it makes it much easier to move on.

I can’t do this any more. This is the end for me.” >> “Yeah, sure, whatever separationyou say.”

• When one partner has come to their ending point, it’s important & respectful (be ‘clean‘) to actually tell the other person.  This is more likely with a longer-term connection.  Often with less developed ties, one person just stops taking calls, emails…..

• Verbal messages are used to prepare for the end by only using ‘I’ or ‘me’ statements, & meant to create finality & permanent distance “This relationship isn’t working for me anymore” , “Please don’t call me again” .

• It’s not uncommon for one or both people to have another relationship, job, even a new city… waiting in the wings, even if the new ‘love’ is temporary, to get them thru the transition.
✶ Leaving may actually be a benefit to both, even if it hurts. They may need it to continue their career, their personal growth or to start a more suitable lifestyle.
♥               ♥                ♥

NEXT: “Trying to Leave you” (Part 2) – Clingers

‘TRYING TO LEAVE YOU’ Stages (Part 1)


What’s happening to ‘us’?

PREVIOUS: “Getting to know you” (Part 3)

REVIEW: Relationship Continuum

ARTICLECommunication Patterns & Couple (Dis)satisfaction”.


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: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