Ending a long-term relationship – 30 days later

Today it is exactly one month ago that my partner and I decided to break up. We were in a temporary break for two months, after a relationship of almost nine years, including three kids. As the relationship wasn’t serving either of us anymore, we decided to break up. A delicate process of unraveling a lot of patterns, dependencies, projections and assumptions. And not just between my now ex-partner and I, but also between the outer world and I.

Patterns in reactions

I guess a similar thing happens in all major events in a human life. When a baby is born, when someone has a cold or when a relative dies, we always ask the same questions, or come up with same remarks. I guess it differs per culture, and I noticed it definitely differs partly per sub culture, but some things seem to be deeply engraved into our system.

Sympathy and curiosity

Reactions can include sympathy and curiosity. I like these questions, especially when they come from someone who really wants to know the answer.

“How are you feeling?”

“Where will you live now?”

“How do you make it work with the kids?”

When people ask me a question because they feel they should, but actually don’t want to hear the answer, or wait for a moment to express their opinion, it feels less nice.

Projections

Many comments include a projection:

“I feel sorry that your relationship failed to work.”

“You must feel terrible.”

These are interesting, as these comments say more about the other person than about me, but they often start an interesting conversation. Sometimes I feel a little insecure when I don’t feel the way the person expects me to feel. Do I miss something? Should I feel like they think I should feel?

I don’t feel terrible. Yes, I have good days and bad days, but generally I feel like I’m in tune with where I should go and how my life supports both me and the people around me in the best way.

Opinions

There are also people that I know, or sometimes don’t know, that give advice or a strong opinion:

“I think you didn’t try hard enough to make it work.”

“People separate too quickly. You should think about your kids.”

These remarks are quite painful, as they are based on judgments and bypass the actual situation. Because yes, we tried and yes, we thought about the kids – a lot.

The question nobody asks

The question nobody asked me directly so far, but that I’m sure many people must have, is what has been the influence of having an open relationship upon this break up. As I’ve realized often, and also caught myself doing, is that when someone is living outside the trodden path, those uncommon choices are often blamed for anything going wrong (and being seen as a lucky factor not standing in the way when things go right).

In case you wonder whether polyamory had influence on the course of my relationship, check out the article I wrote about it recently, probably answering your questions 😉

So how am I doing?

There are days when I miss the relationship. I miss not having anyone waiting for me at home, asking how my day was. I miss physical intimacy. I miss him and the connection we had. Sometimes I feel sad and alone, especially in the evening (somehow emotional processes feel more intense when it’s dark outside).  Sometimes I feel angry that we couldn’t work through this. Yet other times I see that we aren’t compatible anymore. Most of the times I feel happy and excited about the new steps we are both taking.

I didn’t only step out of the relationship with my partner, but also with other people I was seeing at the same time things happened that created distance. My attention, focus and enthusiasm are focused inward, towards inner processes, towards my kids and towards my life purpose: this blog, my workshops and a new online training on intimacy that I’m creating now (sign up for my newsletter for more info!).

There are a couple of things that stand out:

  • Since we started the break I feel more aligned with life. I feel a deep sense of trust and calmness, which is for me, as a person who easily feels anxious and insecure, a new feeling.
  • I have more energy and more new ideas. In the relationship I felt constantly triggered. These triggers used a lot of brain capacity and drained my emotional resilience. Now this space is freed for a large part, apparently there is more space for creativity.
  • The connection with my kids is deepening. We were already close and hugged a lot. Now we do a sharing circle each day I’m with them, and I feel this creates more intimacy in our connection. They share more about their emotional well-being than before. I focus on them feeling safe, reassuring them as much as they need and loving the crap out of them.
  • Friendship is golden. Every day I feel grateful for the loving support of my friends, their care, their hugs and their non-judgment. I think I didn’t value the importance of friendship enough during the relationship. Now I know.

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