Being in a relationship is wonderful if we understand that love is a skill and we teach people how to treat us.
But, if we think of a relationship as a port to salvation and everlasting bliss, then chances are breakups will be a revolving door for us.
At times, while in partnerships, we all ask ourselves, “Is this the right person for me or is there someone better?” And once we go searching for the ideal match, we can find ourselves asking, “When will I find my person?” only to arrive at, “Why didn’t things work out the way I thought they would?”
The number one reason we break up is because of a breakdown in communication. This is a big one and while there are little things we can do to improve our communication, that doesn’t always mean there is a quick fix.
Another major reason for a breakup is money. If someone earns more money and hasn’t agreed to be a sugar daddy or sugar mama, then resentment can build up causing a split.
The third reason a breakup may occur is because someone was unfaithful. FOMO and YOLO—”fear of missing out” and “you only live once”—can exacerbate a person’s drive to cheat. And, the number one reason for the third reason we break up is because buried within the motivation to cheat is the fear of not being enough.
The fourth variable that a causes a breakup is when someone has unrealistic expectations. A lot of us are taught to create a list of prerequisites for our ideal mate. A sense of humor tends to be on top of both men and women’s lists because we both need it to deal with a real relationship and not an ideal one.
But, when someone has unrealistic expectations, they want their partner to be attuned to them at all times and predict their needs like a mother would. It often exhausts both people in the relationship, which is no laughing matter.
The fifth reason for a breakup is that there just isn’t enough chemistry to keep it interesting. Connection cannot be fabricated. It can be faked for a while because there are other redeeming qualities in one’s mate. But, “not feelin’ it” is enough to end it.
In a word—education.
“Talk to me not at me.”
I’m a counselor and even with all the information I gained in graduate school, I still have a difficult time communicating my boundaries, wants, and needs to my partner. That being said, everything I have learned makes the fights shorter, more manageable, and turns conflict into an opportunity to grow.
So, if you withdraw during conflict, avoid discomfort, get angry quickly, or display any of the dumb behaviors us humans undertake when we perceive a threat—real or imagined—there is a tool you can learn to fix communication issues. It is called non-violent communication.
The essence of NVC is the phrase, “When you do this it makes me feel this.”
Once we learn to express our thoughts and feelings in a healthy way, we can graduate to learning how to speak the language of money.
“Talk dollars and sense.”
If we are unwilling to keep a budget, do accounting, track our spending, and invest wisely, then we cannot speak the language of money well. Instead we will only talk about it in terms of having it or spending it.
Financial issues are based in emotional issues. So, in order to fix a breakdown in the bank account, it is best to work with a financial and clinical professional that can help teach the skills needed and address the underlying emotions.
Infidelity can also be solved with education in that we make agreements in relationships—some of them implicit and some overt. The simplest rule of thumb in a closed relationship or an open one is: don’t cheat. Don’t do it. Don’t violate the agreement.
But, humans are silly sometimes and ruled by basic instincts. So, knowing how to transition a relationship from monogamous partnership to polyamorous relating is also a skill that can be learned.
Further, managing the emotions of envy and jealousy in a relationship can also be learned by reading books such as the “Ethical Slut” or “Dear Lover.”
“I don’t ever want to grow up.”
Many of us carry the programming of, “If you loved me then you would know how to make me happy.” The spoiled child inside of us, the neglected child, or something in between carries within it the fantasy of the perfect caregiver.
We need to learn how to parent ourselves. We need to be able to identify what patterns are functional in our lives and which ones perpetuate dysfunction. Learning how to tend to our inner-child is a life-long journey that requires a spiritual practice to master.
“Like peas and carrots again.”
Lastly, there is the issue of unbalanced chemistry in a relationship. Traditional Chinese Medicine treats the imbalance of life-force energy. That being said, chemistry is not something we can learn. We either have it or we don’t. But, we can learn to not place a complete emphasis on our feelings as guides to whether to stay with someone or leave them.
Instead, we need to find a balance between our logic and our emotions. Working with a TCM practitioner is a good way to bring harmony to the body and soul. And, a TCM practitioner can be a good mentor guiding their patient to choose foods, movements, and meditations that are unique to their disposition.
So, to review, the tools needed to help us navigate the narrow shores of staying in a relationship or getting out of it are:
Non-violent communication, a financial and emotional counselor, researching books on the topic of closed and open relationships, making a spiritual practice a habit, and working with a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner.
A relationship is like a recipe. It needs the right ingredients to come out well. The key ingredient in creating a healthy relationship is making sure each person is invested in educating themselves about the issues.
After five years working with couples and individuals who are going through breakups, the best advice I can give is: don’t wait on the other person to teach you what you need to know. Be proactive. Be compassionate. And the breakdowns that lead to breakups can transform into breakthroughs.
Oh, and having the right instructor helps as well!
Author: Rebekah McClaskey
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Erin Lawson