Conscious uncoupling, simply put, means to be aware of the consequences of all thoughts, words and actions before, during and after a break up.
This means understanding not only how it will affect you, but also the other person (or people) involved.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have been vilified for using the term ‘conscious uncoupling’ when referring to their break up. It has been criticized as ‘pretentious’ and ‘new age’—many fail to understand it.
However, I see it as a positive way to end a relationship without unnecessary trauma that causes more pain at a time when we’re already vulnerable enough.
We sometimes look back and are ashamed of the way we behaved towards ex partners. We are often not in a good place at the time and can let our emotions run wild, causing us to say and do things we normally would not.
It is not always simple, as often the other person may not want to be amicable. Keeping a clear head and remaining as calm as possible will help us to refrain from being drawn into unnecessary dramas and fights, that most often can be prevented.
It takes strength and willpower to stay positive and loving when everything around us is falling apart, but with gentle steps, it can be achieved. Plus, it will feel so much better when we come out the other side in one piece, rather than tearing and being torn in the process.
There are many ways we can reduce the suffering for both of us. Most of it comes from being sensitive, respectful and mindful as things come to an end.
Here are my suggestions for an easier break up:
Try to fully understand why the break up is happening.
Even if you can’t see their reasons, appreciate that we are all different and this relationship just hasn’t worked for them at this time
Discuss whether it is possible to resolve issues before things actually end.
Even if it is entirely impossible to put things back on track, just knowing that you have both thought things through properly and have considered the possibilities of staying together can make a huge difference to how things end. These discussions will enable you both to achieve closure easier, as you will have figured out that it is highly unlikely that you can fix whatever isn’t right.
Be honest but sensitive.
It is easier to move on when both partners have a complete understanding as to why things are coming to an end.
Keep your dignity.
Don’t allow yourself to be dragged down into screaming or slanging matches.
Give yourself space and time, nourish your body and your mind. Try to exercise regularly as it is an all round feel good activity and will keep your confidence levels high. Take time out just to think, meditate or read when you need to remain calm.
Share things equally.
If you lived together, or had shared belongings, ensure that you split things fairly. One sure way to cause resentments is by being greedy and taking a greater cut of what belonged to you both. Make lists, talk things through, understand if certain things had emotional value and allow a balanced divide of everything.
Don’t give false hope.
It will only keep the other person hanging on and in need of closure
Don’t have unrealistic expectations.
It isn’t easy to remain amicable or even to be friends. It might not even be necessary. Just do what feels right, take things slowly and if you slip up from time to time, don’t be hard on yourself. Emotions will surface, it is just a matter of how we deal with them that can be the problem.
If it is difficult to communicate, accept that and remain as amicable and as fair as possible.
Choose calming places to talk things through.
Go for a walk, a quiet bar or restaurant, or create a soft setting at home where you can both talk freely without interruptions. The more you talk, the more you will both understand each other.
Don’t make lists of negative traits and behaviours or tell them where they went wrong.
If it’s up for discussion, respectfully discuss things that you could both change. It can just be plain hurtful to sit and listen to all of your faults at an already fragile time. Explain the main reasons why the relationship hasn’t worked for you and leave the petty stuff out of it.
Appreciate the good times together.
Do this but still remain balanced when thinking about the past. Be realistic when looking back and try not to wallow in it. It can consume you if you let it.
Allow yourself to feel angry occasionally.
Let it out—scream, go for a run, take up a boxing class, do whatever feels right to release any rage that may be bubbling inside. But try your best to not let it out on them.
Don’t try to get even.
Whatever they have done to cause you hurt, let it go. The relationship is ending or has ended. Try not to compromise your own morals and values by using revenge. It will only hurt you more. It’s not about winners and losers. Hold your head up high, stay composed and you will move on far easier.
Throughout the break up meet up amicably.
It may be hard to stay friends, but meeting one another once a week or more throughout the uncoupling can ease the pain you may both be experiencing. One of the hardest things about a relationship ending is suddenly realising how much you miss the other person being around.
Meeting for a hot drink, or a bit to eat, or similar can take the edge off those feelings, plus it can be a great way to talk through how you both are feeling at regular stages. If it is too raw to meet alone, arrange to meet with some close mutual friends to ease things a little.
Keep conversation light.
Be very sensitive towards one another when discussing how you have both moved on after the relationship. It may hurt either party to hear about new relationships or what an amazing time you are having without the other person. As time goes on, these discussions may take place freely and openly, however, be very gentle with what you say and never say things to cause a reaction or pain.
Try not to think about what the other person is doing with their time, or how they are spending it with. Focus entirely on building your own future. Take good care of yourself, do things you enjoy and nourish your own life. Negative energy is always a waste. Remove the thoughts and change them with positive ones about yourself instead.
Do not stalk their social media.
This will almost always lead to misunderstandings and fights. It is impossible to get the full story from a few words or pictures. Plus, it can be like a form of torture reading tit bits from your ex partners new life. If you don’t want to delete them, unfollow for a little while. Or just explain in the short term, it is better for you that you are not social media friends, just until the pain has lessened.
Be nice to their future.
Whoever and whatever crosses their path, be happy for them. This is a person who you once loved, be grateful that they are heading to a place that is good for them. Don’t judge and don’t criticise. Accept that they deserve happiness, as do you. Bitterness is crippling.
Try to view them as you would a family friend, or a colleague. Try to be nice, amicable and be respectful. They are no longer a lover. You don’t even need to like them. Just stay polite and stay amicable, whenever possible.
Remember that they are not there to help you meet your needs anymore.
When we move on, part of the difficulty is realizing that we have lost the one person that was there when we needed someone. Once the break up has happened, it is no longer fair to expect them to be an emotional sponge or handyman whenever we need it. To keep moving forward and to both stand a chance of recovering fully, we must be prepared to find new ways to deal with things when the going gets tough.
Friends, family members and support networks can all be invaluable at this time.
The transition from lovers to ex lovers needs to be clear. Any grey areas can confuse one or both partners and can just prolong the pain. When you enter into a platonic relationship, it is important to discuss what feels confortable regarding what you talk about, how you touch each other and how you intend to move forward into this new dynamic.
All of it. Everything. Let it go. It is now in the past and none of it needs to be held on to. Whatever lessons were offered learn from them. Don’t hold on to resentments and don’t hold regrets. They have no place in your future.
Remember: it isn’t you, it isn’t them, the relationship just didn’t work.
Realizing that you are both on your individual journeys and this part of your path just didn’t gel, is a much gentler way of viewing things.
You both deserve love and happiness, you tried to find it together, it hasn’t worked. Say thank you for your time together, feel blessed for the lessons and experiences you received and then say your final goodbyes to the relationship.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Alex Sandra Myles
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Elizabeth Ashley Jerman at Flickr