It might have been a huge blow-up where you and your partner both said awful, hurtful words. It could have been a slow-building tension that brought coldness and distance. The effects are the same… your relationship feels like it has collapsed. The strong foundation of trust, communication, respect, and even love has been shaken and feels destroyed.
You might be very upset, not sleeping or eating well and fearful about your future. You may also be feeling justified about what you’ve said or done. After all, your partner did something awful and your relationship has fallen apart, try this:
1. Be honest with yourself about what happened
The first thing we recommend you do after a relationship collapse is to assess the state of your union. If your mind is racing ahead to what you think the future might hold or to what you guess your partner will do next, stop. If you’re replaying in your mind your version of what went down between you two, stop. Slow down your thinking and, instead, get very clear about literally what happened.
This is going to be your biased perspective, so be as choosy as you can about what you believe is true. Think about what was actually said and the actions that really happened. Go with observations and verifiable information when at all possible.
2. Be honest with yourself about what’s in your best interest
Next, we invite you to consider the wisdom of repairing your relationship. We do not think that people should throw away a perfectly good relationship just because mistakes (even big mistakes) were made or an argument happened.
But, we also know how important it is to make conscious choices about one’s life…this includes the conscious choice to stay in or to leave a relationship.
Think about what is in your best interest. Think about where you stand right now with your partner and also about where you want to go in the future. Remind yourself that you deserve to have the relationship you truly want.
3. Be willing to own your role
What your partner said or did may have been a huge betrayal, but there is probably a role you also played in the relationship collapse. With gentleness and self-love, try to determine what your role was and is.
This isn’t about you taking the blame or being the only one at fault for what happened. That’s not helpful either! This is about you owning the part in your relationship that contributed to the collapse.
4. Take your next best step
When couples have the same argument or they break up and reunite over and over again, it’s often because neither of them has done the advance work. They are merely repeatedly reacting to one another and building up even more hostility and pain. As you do the advance work we’ve recommended, you’re going to begin to know what is your next best step.
This might not be an action or decision that you are necessarily happy or comfortable with, but it will feel certain and right for you. Your next best step might be to offer your partner a heartfelt apology, to set a firm boundary, or to seek help from a professional.
Whatever it is, take your next step and keep checking in with yourself as you take another and another. This is the way to rebuild trust and connection and to re-discover your love for one another.