This article assumes you feel your relationship has taken a turn for the worse. And that woodpecker in your mind called doubt is beginning to hammer away at the last shreds of your resolve.
In short, you can feel a breakup storm brewing on the horizon (or perhaps it’s already here and you’re sitting there drenched), and now it’s time to take steps to prevent a breakup from happening.
The following article is my attempt to maximize your chances of keeping the relationship strong without resorting to the voodoo, magic bullets or manipulation that will destroy what few options you have left.
How To Prevent A Breakup
Keep Your Communication Under Wraps.
Without the ability to communicate honestly, you can’t repair a relationship or reconcile. It’s really that simple.
Communication is scary because we associate confrontation with a sign the relationship is falling apart. But nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, still caring enough to fight for change shows that emotions are still involved.
Ask anyone who sends their ex hate mail why they do it (if they are honest enough to admit it) and they’ll tell you that it is a twisted declaration of love. That baiting a reaction out of an ex who is ignoring them is better than accepting their indifference. Anything but indifference…
If you want to prevent a breakup, make sure that you take care of your communication channels:
- Don’t engage in conflict avoidance. Say exactly what you mean and talk about what actually matters.
- Don’t play mind games that will only destroy trust, breed resentment and foster confusion. Don’t use No Contact if you aren’t prepared to deal with the resulting silence.
- Avoid mixed messages and crumbs. If you reach out, do so with a singular and specific purpose or you risk creating more confusion.
- Use more impersonal means of communication if you fear that your emotions will get the better of you and muddy the waters. Write a letter or an Email if confronting them directly is too much.
- Don’t let others do the talking for you. Mutual acquaintances have a notoriously horrible track record of managing reconciliation scenarios.
- Respect their boundaries. If you are told to lay off the accelerator pedal, do so or risk enduring silence.
The bottom-line is that your communication channels should not be abused, because if they are, tomorrow they might be gone. And your chances along with it.
For those of you considering going no contact because asking nicely isn’t working and you’ve heard that time apart is a magic bullet, what happens if they just accept the silence?
Ironically, it is usually those who ask for no contact who break the silence first for this reason. Because it is a gamble that is made from a position of weakness by those who fear they have nothing left to lose.
Don’t Wait For Them To Come To You
Waiting for an ex come to you is a bad idea for several reasons.
- You are shifting control of your life and emotions into someone else’s hands (adios self-esteem and hello anxiety).
- You aren’t getting the answers you need, only creating new questions to confuse yourself with. Time apart can bring clarity, but only if the objective is moving on.
- Nothing is magically going to change unless you are sure that time apart will improve your “scorecard”. Yes, sometimes breakups are impulsive and irrational, but if you aren’t sure this is the case don’t count on it being the case.
Again, confrontation is scary. Reaching out means being vulnerable, and there’s no way around this. But the reason it is so terrifying in the first place is that we know we might be confronted with what we seek most of all: The truth!
If we had nothing to lose, if there was no doubt, there would be no fear. Instead, it is this battle between the cutting truth and our hopes that causes us to retreat and seek potentially false, but familiar comforts.
As the saying goes…
If you want peace, prepare for war
Don’t Give Away Too Much
Negotiating a breakup is a grueling process that can suck up our sense of self and break it down. For this reason, respecting ourselves is important both with regards to reconciling as well as are long term wellbeing.
Relationships are partly based on perceived value. For example, if we value our partner highly we’ll be reluctant let them go. If the breakup has crushed our sense of self we are likely to sell ourselves short or give away too much of what we are in order to make things work.
Needless to say this isn’t going to work. Forget about your ex, this isn’t going to work for us. Is a relationship that demands our fulfillment as its price worth our continued investment?
Maintaining your boundaries and needs should be non-negotiable. It’s the wants that you can play with. Do this for yourself, not to appease your partner. The added benefit is that self-respect and firm boundaries are inherently attractive.
Don’t Let Your Fear Do The Talking
No matter how you feel inside (there isn’t much we can objectively do to persuade our mind to chill out), it is important that we keep a handle on our actions as well as our communication.
Left to its own devices our fear will:
- Cause us to project our fears on our ex. This usually ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Muddy the waters to the point where everyone just gives up because it is preferable to the anxiety of holding on.
- Create new problems and insecurities from scratch.
- Not Prevent the breakup due to our inability to act. Fear will freeze us in place and drive us to seek comfort over truth.
- Generally, make problems worse and advantages disappear.
Accepting the presence of fear is a healthy pastime because to deny fear is to live in denial.
The important thing to note is that, despite this fear, we make an attempt to act in a consistent and direct manner.
This isn’t to say we should be cold and calculating (don’t do that). It just means knowing what we want and taking steps to achieve those goals without wasting time pampering our insecurities. We need to separate the wheat from the chaff.