Leaving a Relationship: The Easy Way Out? | Huffington Post

As a practicing therapist, working with many couples over the past 20 years, I disagree with Dr. Margaret’s Paul’s recent article in the Huffington Post, Leaving A Relationship: The Easy Way Out?, wherein she proclaims that difficult relationships are fodder for personal growth and that relationsh­ips are hard work. If you believe this, you’re in store for some hard times.

Relationsh­ips don’t have to be hard work.

When they are hard, it’s possible that growth may occur, but it’s equally possible that you may just reinforce your negative patterns of behavior. One of the fundamenta­l problems I see is that people attract the wrong partner in the first place. Staying with the wrong person is not the best fodder for growth. Leaving a relationship may be best, but not according to Dr. Paul who writes, “Matthew wants to leave because he can’t stand Katheryn’s constant attempts to control him and make him responsible for her feelings. Leaving is a waste of time for Katheryn and Matthew. Actually, these two people have exactly what they asked for — someone to learn and grow with.”


They didn’t ask for this kind of relationship. They stumbled into it because they didn’t know what to ask for. People don’t ask to suffer. More often than not, they find themselves in difficult relationships because

1) they have not sufficiently done their own personal growth, and

2) because they don’t know how to pick the right partner.

So they feel stuck and are afraid of leaving a relationship in which they are hurting themselves and the person they “love”—if you call that love.

Pick a partner you really like, someone with whom you feel safe and respected– then when you have difference­s you can work through them by having adult/adul­t conversati­ons. This is how healing is most likely to occur, not by repeating your old and painful patterns.

Here’s the thing to remember.

Were you ever taught you how to create a loving, easy, sustainable relationship with a partner? How many relationships like this do you see? They seem to be rare—and impossible to create when you fight to be right, try to control, fear being controlled, get defensive, and blame or feel blamed. There is another way—a proven, safer, easier, healthier way of relating. It is an actual practice that teaches you a new way to communicate. We call it Perception Language .

Using Perception Language, you learn to talk with your partner—and other people—without anyone feeling criticized or controlled. You’ll be curious instead of defensive. You’ll be able to witness your partner without enabling.  And, you’ll be able to create intimacy, even when you feel vulnerable—but without asking your partner to take responsibility for you. And you can do the same for them.

All of this is possible, but not if you settle into a difficult relationsh­ip, not if you are afraid of leaving a relationship that doesn’t provide the basic safety and respect you want—wh­ich, I believe, is what makes real growth possible.

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2 Responses to Leaving a Relationship: The Easy Way Out? | Huffington Post

  1. Bruce Taylor July 9, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Jake, I think you have hit on something that operates in the background of many relationships — certainly for me in my past. And that is fear. Fear of committing fully to the relationship is one aspect. And when we fear making (and speaking the language of…) fully committed relationships, we hold back, we withhold communication, we hedge our bets. And it leaves us feeling just as we might expect if we were conscious of it — incomplete, dissatisfied. And, humans being humans, we tend to deflect our dissatisfaction outside of ourselves — usually at the other person in the relationship. We don’t take the responsibility of our own lack of commitment. Pretty quickly, the “difficult relationship” is the other person’s “fault.” “She’s always trying to control me and make me responsible for how she feels.” The facts of the ground may be quite different — she may indeed be poorly articulating it, but perhaps she is as authentically as she may know how (most of us don’t have good skills as this)expressing to him how his withdrawal and non- or incomplete communications leaves her feeling. This is a fair and right thing for one person to express to another in a relationship: “This is what you have done or said, and this is now it leaves me feeling.”

    A second part of fear in relationship is the fear that “Maybe I’ve made a mistake; maybe I could have done better. Maybe I want to make sure that I can give myself an ‘out’ rather than deal with dealing with another as openly and authentically as possible. This fear also leads us to be withdrawn in the relationship, not contributing fully to it.

    I have found it useful for me in my relationships (and at 64 I am in what is the most complete and fullfilling relationship of my life — a slightly late bloomer?) when they are off kilter is to look hard at who I am being in the relationship. Am I being fully available, without fear? If I am experiencing fear and dissatisfaction, am I able to express it, or do I stuff it down? Is there anything that I need to either put into or take out of the conversation that will matter? What I have discovered is that my life is very hard when I am in resistance to my relationship (and we can all find things in another to resist). When I stop the resistance, and fully put myself into the relationship, suddenly possibilities open up that simply were not present before. The constant complaints and fault-finding that were present in the relationship a day ago no longer are barriers to intimacy in communication. Life is hard enough without our adding in our own fear of commitment. If, however, we are not able to work through our fear, then we must withdraw from the relationship before we cause real harm to another.

  2. Kevin June 4, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

    This gave me lots of clarity and not to give up on my relationship and take the easy way out which in the long run would hurt me more.

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