It seems that letting go of a relationship, especially when the person meets 75% -80% of your needs, is a challenge. Men and women constantly ask me what is the “right” way to break up? Should they have “break-up” sex, can they be just “friends,” should they talk on the phone regularly? Or, should they just sever ties — make a clean break? While I have specific advice on this topic, be assured that I have had vast experience with breaking up. Prior to doing the work I did in creating the Dating With Dignity 10-Steps to Manifesting Love I had a horrific time letting go of a relationship with a man who wasn’t a match. In fact, he wasn’t someone who ultimately made me feel good about myself. However, the hope and promise of what it might be — if he changed — kept me coming back for more. I hoped. I prayed. And, while I tried desperately to be “just friends,” I was so completely attracted to him that it was hard not to think about connecting with him physically. I tried clean breaks too, but during those periods he would send emails, call or just reach out telling me he missed me, and wanted just to talk. These messages hit my weakest spots, making me temporarily feel worthy, loveable and wanted. Of course, even after weeks of successfully not talking, I acquiesced and made contact. The bottom line? It took me more than 18 months to let go of a relationship that should have ended just six months after it began. During this” on and off again” period I mourned, tried to date other people, and went out with friends. Mostly, though, I pined for him, dreaming that “one day,” he would recognize my awesome-ness and come back begging to be with me. What was most sad about being in this limbo state of being for me, was the fact that during this time I never focused on how I had been treated poorly, accepting merely crumbs, or why we weren’t a match because of differing values. Yes, he was good looking. We had incredible chemistry. I adored his kids. But still, he wasn’t what I deserved. To say we had “break up” sex at least one-half dozen times might be accurate, it could have been more. I was lost. Drowning in false promises. Hope. And pretending that he was the soul mate I might never find again.
Now, back to reality.
The truth is, this break up was horrible. I could have saved myself pain, tears and months of agonizing heartbreak if I had lived in reality. I could have moved on more quickly, creating space to meet someone new if only I had not waited to do the work I ultimately did to find self love, date with intention, and create a life I loved. Fast forward 18 months later, and behold, I had become a dignity-dater looking to make a move forward. As a result, I landed in a nice relationship with a man who lived outside of Los Angeles where I live. We dated for three months. He was an excellent communicator, passionate and we had the same spiritual sense of being. Nevertheless, he was NOT a match. While on a trip together, I realized that while I thought this man an incredible person, he would never be the person with whom I could partner. That said, I had to have the “it’s not a match,” conversation. I loved him. He was sweet, and had been there for me when my mother was very sick, dying from cancer. Nevertheless, we agreed that while love is necessary, it is NOT sufficient. This, my friends, was a clean break. I missed him terribly the first week. After all, suddenly there was nobody to talk to while driving to work, not a soul who cared that I had gone to the grocery store to buy chicken and ended up with chocolate. There was nobody to say goodnight to before my head hit the pillow. And there was nobody who would stand beside me at my mother’s funeral. Bottom line? Yes, it was hard. It was uncomfortable. And, quite frankly, it hurt. But, I knew that if my patience and wounded heart could withstand the test of time, if I took comfort in my friends, hobbies and the incredible life I had created, I would not only survive but thrive.
So…. is there such as think as a clean break? Yes. And no. I value the break-up conversations. I even value break-up sex. The problem becomes when breaking up is so dramatic, poetic and perfect that it leads to nothing less than shear fantasy. It leads to what if’s? What could have been? And, if only. The challenge becomes when breaking up leads to making up, breaking up again, and then once again, a dramatic reunion which results in fantastical sex and connection. This, my friends, is one hell of an unfulfilling, no-win romantic rut.
When you decide “it’s not a match,” decide for good. Decide for you. Decide to save yourself time. Energy, and sadness. Move forward so that you can begin to create a life you love. It will be worth it, I promise.