Another common response is to strike out with anger and blame, holding the abandoning partner accountable for the relationship’s demise. Being dropped in status is not something anyone wants to experience, and feelings of being displaced, erased or replaced create emotional pain and self-doubt. Sometimes the rage and counter-invalidations cover more vulnerable feelings inside that are too vulnerable or painful to share.
If you have found yourself in a relationship that has lost its meaning for you, how can you minimize the stress on your partner and yourself?
How to End a Relationship When Your Partner Still Loves You
1. Look at yourself:
Is this a pattern in your relationships? Do you overcommit and then find yourself in deeper than you intended? Do you try doing everything you can to make your partner feel more important to you than he or she actually is, just to keep that person close? Do you withhold asking for the changes you need and then resent the other for not knowing what they are? Do you put partners on pedestals by ignoring things about them you will eventually be unable to bear? Do you accommodate and then resent your sacrifices?
You will want to do your part and search for your own account so that you are open and willing to share that when you approach your partner. Tell your partner why you did not deal with the problems in the relationship earlier, and how that lack of honesty may have led your partner to believe you were more attached than you were. If you can do that with sincerity and directness, you are less likely to encounter defensiveness and counter-blame.
Hopefully, you are not already involved with someone else. Overlapping relationships severely complicate an interaction that is already difficult. If you have begun a new relationship and your partner suspects, don’t lie about it. That will only make things worse. It is a double-edged sword: Though it is painful in a different way to have been dumped for another, it may not be as bad as feeling unlovable.
2. Tell your partner when there is open-ended time to process whatever needs to be shared.
Tell him or her that you have something painful and difficult to share and that you are taking full responsibility for not having talked about it sooner. Make sure you are authentically regretful and remorseful about having made a choice to keep things seemed okay when they were not, and that you realize how hard you have made it by waiting until there was no hope for change.
Ask your partner if he or she can try to listen to the ways you have separated out of the relationship and why you did not share your feelings earlier. Don’t blame or bring up things that your partner has done to you, even if they are relevant. Focus on taking full accountability for setting your partner up to believe that you were more in than you were. Be direct and concise. Tell him or her that you are sad for any heartache you have caused and that you want to do everything you can to make the separation as easy as possible.
3. It is hard to do, but be prepared to listen to your partner’s responses without getting defensive or resorting to counterattacks.
Your partner is likely to be angry, embarrassed, wounded, and confused. He or she will say things intended to make you feel worse about yourself or plead to be given another chance. You may be interrogated about whether or not you have already found someone else. Your job is to listen as long as your partner needs you to, to stay compassionate, and to hold on to your self-respect. Remember that your goal is to make it as easy on your partner as possible.
Your partner may get angry and want to hurt you back by telling you to get out, calling mutual friends to let them know what you’ve done, threatening to hurt themselves, pleading for more time, or even trying to seduce you. These are understandable responses to unexpected rejection. Grief has many vehicles for expression, and you have probably seen your partner’s way of dealing with other losses in the past.