Five Steps to Leaving a Long-Term Relationship

Five Steps to Leaving a Long-Term Relationship

I was married for over twenty years to my first real boyfriend.  That relationship lasted from my late-teens to my mid-forties.

I remember the day I realized my marriage was toxic.  I was at a yoga retreat, the most unlikely place in the world for bookworm-me.  My gloriously-maned, curvaceous yoga instructor arranged us in a half-moon, and handed each of us a slip of blank paper.

“We are going to close our eyes and meditate for a minute. During that time, I want you to think about what is toxic in your life.  Then, we will write it down and dedicate this space to clearing that toxic thing, whatever it is, from our lives.  At the end of class, I will gather all the pieces of paper and we will burn them in this bowl.”

I remember dutifully sitting cross-legged on my tightly folded yoga blanket, legs crossed, eyes closed.

What is toxic in my life?

My marriage.

Not an acceptable answer to me, so I tried again.

What is toxic in my life?

My marriage.

No matter how much I tried to deny it, that particular day the truth wouldn’t let me be.

It took several months, and another epiphanous moment, before I could act on that certain knowledge.  Then I spent another couple of weeks googling things like, “How to ask for a divorce.”

All these years later, this is the advice I wish someone had given me.

Walk, Run or Crawl

When you’re in a toxic relationship, walk out of it if you can.
  Run if you must.  And if nothing else is available to you, then crawl away, my darling.  Crawl away.

I wasn’t in physical danger in my marriage, and could afford to take as much time as I needed to plot out how to leave.  I sought advice from friends who’d been in similar situations.  I paid off his credit cards.  I made discreet inquiries about a rental house, in case I needed to pack up our two kids and four dogs and leave our home.

Five Steps to Leaving a Long Term Relationship ReginaMaeWrites

If you are in physical danger, then run, my dear. Pack your suitcase and flee.  Go to a friend, a family member, or a women’s shelter.  You do whatever you have to do to make sure your partner cannot hurt you again.

If you are so worn down by emotional abuse or neglect that you can barely imagine your life any other way, then crawl away if you must.

You know if it’s bad.  You know when it’s time to leave.

Sit still, close your eyes and open your heart.  Your answer will come to you in the silence.  That still silent voice will beckon you toward your true and right life.

Be Honorable About Leaving

Some people have a difficult time leaving one relationship unless they know there is another one waiting for them.  Consciously or subconsciously, when the relationship they are in is bad, they start looking for another one.

Be Honorable About Leaving ReginaMaeWrites.PNGDon’t be that person.  Don’t be the cheater-deleter who sneaks around thinking they’ll never get caught.  You will get caught. 

If you aren’t happy where you are, look your partner in the face and say what needs to be said.

I don’t want to hurt you, but I don’t want to be married to you anymore.

Those words are the hardest I’ve ever spoken.  Twenty-four years together, two beautiful children, and a life that was mostly perfect—at least on the surface.

But I didn’t love him anymore.

And he didn’t love me, at least not the way I needed to be loved.

It can be so very tempting when you aren’t happy at home to look for that happiness somewhere else.  But at the end of the day, if you walk away honorably you will be able to look yourself in the mirror, look your children in the face, and know that you did the right thing, the right way.

Stand In Your Power

Stand Firm in Your Personal Power Regina Mae Writes.PNGFor two years before I asked for a divorce, I saw a holistic health practitioner who repeatedly told me that if I would learn to stand in my power, I would quit having stomach pains.

I didn’t understand what she meant.  She told me that the third chakra, called the Manipura, is located between the belly button and the breastbone.  She explained that the Manipura is the center of your personal power.

Take your palm and lay it flat on your belly, below your ribs and above your belly button.  Close your eyes for a minute and feel it—feel the power coming from your third chakra into your palm.  Feel the energy flowing from your palm back to your third chakra.

Send strength and love and peace to your third chakra.

Feel your personal power sharpen and strengthen.

Stand in that personal power.  Your personal power.

When you tell your partner you want to leave, it may not go well.

You may experience belittling. Humiliation.  Cajoling.

He may produce promises.  Tears.  Threats.

It may feel like  a tsunami of emotions crashing over you, especially if you have been in the relationship for a long time.

Stand firm in your personal power.  For your sake.  And theirs.  Clean breaks heal best, whether it’s bones or hearts that are broken.

Lean On Your Friends

Lean On Your Friends ReginaMaeWrites.PNGSurround yourself with friends.  They will help you fill lonely days and nights as you adjust to your new life outside of your longterm relationship.

Find friends who will let you talk until even you’re sick of your story.  Friends who will let you cry until your tears run dry.

Find friends who will make you laugh.

Find at least one friend who will look you in the eye and say, “Everything is going to be okay.  I know you don’t believe that right now, but can you at least believe that I believe it?”

Find at least one friend who will remind you that a year from now, you won’t feel this way.  Six months from now, you won’t feel this way. Maybe even a week from now, you won’t feel the way you feel right now in this moment of despair.

If you and your partner are part of a large social group, you may need to branch out and find new friends.  Your breakup may impact your entire social group in ways you cannot predict.

Sometimes, sides will be taken.  Rumors will fly like arrows.

Sometimes, every one of your friends will do the best they can to be as neutral as Switzerland, but sitting in that same backyard, with those same smiling faces, drinking the same glass of wine is just too painful without that partner you loved for so many years.

When that happens, find new friends.  New hobbies.  New places to spend your free time.

Friends will make the difference between just getting by and thriving.

Take Time To Heal

Hit Pause ReginaMaeWrites.PNGOnce you’ve made the break from your partner, hit pause for a while.  Don’t rush into a new relationship.  Don’t jump on a bunch of dating sites.

Spend time alone, listening to your heart.  What is it telling you?

Take time to learn to love your own company.  Make reservations at your favorite restaurant, or find a new favorite eatery.  Sit in the semi-dark and people-watch while you sip your wine and nosh on delicious food.

Go to your favorite park or nature preserve and take a long walk.

See a movie by yourself.

Or do like I did, and go on a solo trek to Paris and Rome.

Keep doing things by yourself until you truly know what peace and contentment feel like.  Then, when you start dating, don’t settle for any relationship that makes you feel less peace or contentment than you felt when you were alone.

Healing takes time.  I read once that you should take one month for every year you were in a relationship.  That would have been two years for me, and looking back on the decisions I made those first two years after I asked for a divorce, I think they are onto something.

The thing I regret most about that time is not waiting longer before I started dating.  I remember thinking that I wasn’t getting any younger, or thinner, or prettier, so I better get out there and find someone new.

And the truth is, I was partially right.  I didn’t get any younger.  Or any thinner.

But I did get more powerful.  More comfortable in my space.  More able to identify what peace and joy feel like.  Looking back, the time I spent alone was incredibly healing and powerful.  And I should have taken more of that time to just be alone. I should have spent as much effort creating a relationship with myself as I spent trying to find a relationship with somebody new.

Wrapping It Up 

Relationships are tough.  Staying in them is challenging.  Leaving them, especially when you’ve been with someone for a long time, can be just as challenging.

When it’s time to leave a long-term relationship, get out any way you can:  walk away, run away or crawl.  Be honorable in your actions leading up to the break-up.  Learn to stand in your power.  Lean on your friends, both new and old.  And take as much time as you need to heal before stepping into your next relationship.

If you’ve been through a break up after a long-term relationship, what is the one piece of advice you that helped you the most?

Ever Upward Regina Mae

What Will It Take For You To Stay

My darling, has anyone ever asked you what would it take for you to leave?

What would it take for you to leave your job?  Or your relationship?  What would it take for you to leave life as you know it?  Your career, your marriage, your house of worship?  What would it take for you to leave…fill in the blank.

It’s a viable question.  Knowing the answer can be an important step in deciding when to transition to the next place in your life.

But, my darling, maybe the better question isn’t what would it take for you to leave, but what will it take for you to stay.  What do you have to feel to stay where you are today?





How do you want to be treated in order to stay where you are?

With respect?  Kindness?

You are the only one who gets to decide your right answer, because you are the only one who has to live your one  and only, true and precious, life.

Do you like the challenge of an uphill, mountainous climb?  Or prefer a smooth, easy walk on the beach?

Do you want to be joyful and happy?  Or do you thrive on conflict?

When you get up in the morning, what propels you forward?

reframe-the-questionsMaybe it’s time to reframe the questions we ask ourselves and each other.  

Believers of the Law of Attraction posit that what you think is what you attract.  If you focus on negative thoughts or beliefs, Law of Attraction says you will attract negative events to your life. Conversely, if you focus on positive thoughts or beliefs, that is what will manifest in your life.

If you don’t necessarily believe in the Law of Attraction, then consider the concept of self-fulfilling prophecies.  This concept, which dates back to Ancient Greece and Ancient India, states that belief in a statement changes our behavior in ways that we make the statement come true.

Let that sink in for a moment.  If we believe a statement, we will subconsciously change our behavior in ways that will make the statement come true.

Have you ever known someone who says things like, “I always get the short end of the stick,” or “Nothing ever goes my way.”

Have you ever known them to be wrong?

Have you ever known someone who says things like, “I always get good parking spots,” and sure enough, they always do?

Open your mind, my darling, and consider this. If you say, out loud or even only to yourself, “I’m leaving this job if my boss yells at me one more time,” then you might just be inviting your boss to yell at you.

If you say, out loud or even just to yourself, “I’m leaving the next time my lover insults me,” maybe that’s exactly the self-fulfilling prophecy that will bring it about.

But maybe if you align your thoughts with what you want to happen, as opposed to what you want to avoid, just maybe that is what you will attract to yourself.

Try saying this, “I will stay at my job as long as I am treated with respect and fairly compensated.”

“I will stay at my job as long as I am mentally stimulated.”

“I will stay at my job if I get promoted within the next six months.”

Or how about these mantras.

“I will stay with my lover as long as I feel cherished and adored.”

“I will stay in my marriage as long as I feel loved and respected.”

One of two things are bound to happen.  Either what you have stated will happen, thus proving the law of attraction.

Or those things won’t happen, and you will know that it is time to move along, to the next job or the next lover.

If you get fixed in your mind exactly how you want to feel, or how you want to be treated; if you settle on how you want to vibrate in this glorious universe we call home, then you will know what you need to do if you don’t feel that way.

What will it take for you to stay?

For me, it is joy and contentment, respect and love, with a generous dollop of excitement and adventure.  If those things fade away, then it’s time for a new career, or a new hobby, new friends or a new relationship.

But that’s just my answer.  Tell me about yours.  What will it take for you to stay?

Ever Upward Regina Mae