It happens to the best of us. No matter how passionate and amazing a relationship is, was, or could still be, the hardest test to overcome is undoubtedly being able to turn a downward spiral around.The only prerequisites to mending a fraying connection is the ability to overcome pride (by being introspectively honest) and that the commitment to the future of the relationship is still somewhat mutual (even if it is markedly imbalanced at the moment).
Please bear in mind that, as always, this article is my subjective take at key steps that help a relationship re-energize and regroup in the face of an emotional precipice. I have done my best to write the article in chronological order, but as we all know, relationships have a way of being particularly unpredictable — to say the very least!
1. Take a step back
Perhaps the most common foul-up in a long line of relationship mistakes is that of being overly attached and insecure in the face of fear. When a relationship takes a turn for the worse, we unwittingly complicate matters by shredding the few strands of attraction that remain by becoming insecure, thereby draining our partners even further. Removing this emotional overload is imperative to restoring balance.
Think of it this way, if all it took for your partner to bail on the relationship was your decision to take a brief siesta then were they worth keeping around in the first place? If anything, giving you both some space is the most natural way to rekindle desire and rationalize about what the other person really means to us. Familiarity breeds contempt.
Taking a little time off means putting yourself first, re-establishing self-esteem, re-kindling your life outside of the relationship (and minimizing the trauma of a potential breakup), and gaining objectivity about your own life — outside of dependencies and fears.
2. Remembering what drives you
Now that we have some space, it’s time to asses who we are, and what we want. In essence, we are now detoxing. Analyze thoughts and feelings of loss and pain as they arise but try your best not to act on them — for now. Instead, draw up a list of things you’d love to be doing or ambitions that you have and act on those instead, in small manageable steps. Take this time to slowly improve your financial situation, get in shape or go out with long-lost friends.
Improving your own life will drastically reduce relationship-related stress and hurl your self-esteem back into the stratosphere — both of which are essential in repairing your relationship. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something, for no other reason than to improve yourself.
As a side-note, exercise is a proven way to beat stress (by way of assuaging our brains flight or fight response). Even increasing physically activity slightly will provide huge psychological (and physical) dividends. Hop on it — literally!
3. It’s list time
At this point, not only are you rapidly gaining control, you are also in a position to see the relationship for what it truly is and can begin to address its shortcomings in earnest.
Drawing up a list of pros and cons about the relationship, your partner or your life can be an enlightening experience (despite sounding rather redundant). The process of decoding thoughts, and encoding them into communicable expressions forces us to throw an objective lasso around our feelings. It bears repeating that while we may feel confident that there is no point, and that we already know the long and short of what’s going on, a page of scribbles usually turns into a 10 page dissertation very rapidly indeed.
4. The honesty policy
Be very frank with your realizations and very forgiving of your shortcomings (and theirs). Refuting perfectionism is an amazingly liberating experience. Take stock of your needs, and theirs, and weigh them together. A modicum of compromise is necessary in every relationship, but if their boundaries and happiness conflict with yours, they should be discussed (before you throw in the towel). People change, relationships change, and most of the time lack of proper communication is what drives a relationship under the rails, not character.
Erecting a new honesty policy is more than simply a band-aid, it is a way of living a relationship. The greatest part of all this transparency? Your partner will react in kind — almost always. In short:
- Don’t offer a big red reset button or amnesty — unless someone was being spiteful there’s nothing to forgive. You are who you are.
- Regain control of your life by living it the way you want to. This will make you more attractive to your partner, improve your self-confidence and minimize the pain of co-dependency.
- Communicate your feelings and realizations directly and shoot-down any mind-games being played.
5. Coming to terms
Once the designated time-out has ended it’s time to reach out once more. This time, however, it’s important to monitor our own emotional reactions, and not only theirs. Be blunt but light-hearted, in a sense love is — at it’s core — selfless. You have to be willing to lose it all. If you aren’t willing to accept defeat (not that it means you want it), the downward spiral will only worsen due to one or many of the following factors:
- Emotional suffocation.
Real reconciliation stems from a want, not a need. It should be conveyed as such. Repairing a relationship hinges on loving not only our partner, but ourselves. Ironically, the more we appreciate and respect ourselves, the more magnetic and attractive we become. And is the most efficient way (in my opinion) of keeping all the things we want in our lives right where they are.