Breaking up is hard to do. Unrequited love has inspired more works of art than anything else on earth. For many, letting go of a relationship is a lot more than just detaching from a person. It can mean having to let go of an ideal, a dream or fantasy, a lifestyle, or family and friends. For other’s, it could be as difficult as getting over an addiction, or something so painful that it leaves us feeling emotionally crippled.
The way we behave in a relationship and after someone breaks up with us, says a lot about our mental health and our level of self-esteem. It’s a good indicator of what parts of us we need to heal and where we should focus our attention.
A big part of my, ‘Skype with Savannah,’ practice deals with helping people get over the ending of their toxic relationships and I’ve noticed that most people, whose partners have left them, tend to fall into one or more of the categories I’ve listed below.
Healthy Break-Up Style: You usually find individuals with a good level of self-esteem here, included in this group are recovering Codependents. They recognize instantly when their relationship is not healthy and that their needs are not being met. They are not afraid to act when the situation calls for it. They maintain separate interests and friends throughout their relationships and see the relationship as another part of their lives – not their entire life. While saddened at a relationship’s ending, they are not destroyed by it. They live fully in reality and are not afraid to call a spade a spade. They recognize that their development is a top priority and that their self-care is their responsibility and they look for partners that have the same beliefs and values.
The Typical Break-Up Style: You usually find individuals who try to make their relationships work, even if they are having problems and are not happy. They are often more trusting and willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. They have a moderate level of self-esteem and tend to mostly live in reality. Once it’s clear to them that their relationship isn’t going to improve, they will eventually take the necessary steps to break free. They are often heartbroken at a relationship’s ending, but they know they will battle through it and be okay in the end. They put themselves slightly above their relationship, but they aren’t afraid to sacrifice in the name of love on occasion. The majority of individuals in a relationship are this type.
The Indifferent Break-Up Style: This type know and fully accept that their relationship is over. They are completely detached emotionally and are basically living separate lives, while still married or cohabitating. They stay together for reasons other than love, typically finances, kids… and may or may not end the relationship when something pushes them in that direction. Their level of self-esteem is typically low. Their behavior is often driven by some type of fear, be it fear of abandonment, fear of not being able to support themselves, fear of change, fear of being alone….
The Ruminator Break-Up Style: Here you find people that have a hard time letting go. They know on a cognitive level that their relationship is never going to work out and that it’s over. They refer to themselves as single and go for long stretches of time being okay and focused on their own life, yet at times they ruminate over the good times with their ex and can slide back into their old, unhealthy relationship, for short stretches of time. Once back in it, they see the same old tricks being played over and over again. They know the score and quickly remember why it didn’t work. It ends again, either by their hand or their ex-partner’s, who was just dipping back in, to make sure they still had an option. They tend to live mostly in reality, but take brief visits to fantasy land. They often have moderate to low levels of self-esteem, but find they feel much better when they are away from their toxic ex and out of the relationship.
The Chaser Break-Up Style: The Chaser, also known as, the clinger, hasn’t accepted the break-up and will keep trying to win back their partner. They keep finding reasons to call, text, email or show up at places they know their ex frequents. They don’t know when to quit and tend to lack self-respect and self-restraint. They’re impulsive and act from emotion rather than logic. Their behavior can be over the top and they can be obsessive, when bent on finding a way back into their relationship, despite obvious signs and advice from others. Chasers often suffer from a Personality Disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Histrionic Personality Disorder, though that is not always the case. It can often take the intervention of police or some authority figure to get them to give up the chase.
The Perpetual Merry-Go-Round Break-Up Style: This type typically stays in a revolving door type of relationship. One minute their partner is with them, the next they’re gone – often with another person. This dosey-doe keeps repeating over and over and over again, with no end in sight. The individual is constantly crashing and soaring and caught in a trauma bond. They have low self-esteem and are hoping that their partner will change and choose them over any other, they might be involved with. They bend over backwards trying to out-do the competition, with what they’re willing to do and give. They try to be perfect – to keep their partner happy. They want the relationship that was promised to them, even if it means giving away their self-esteem. While they still hold out hope that their partner can change, they’ve had the same con run on them so many times, that the appeal is starting to wear thin. They still want their abusive partner and that need has taken on an addiction-type feel, that seems to defy reason. They typically feel that no one else will want them and they believe that being in a relationship is better than being alone. They are Codependent and engage in fantasy-type thinking. They are other-person focused and have a very difficult time letting go of the relationship. It often takes a significant event to occur to get them to give it up, though very often they do tire of the same old tricks and their desire for getting their ex back may begin to wane.
The Denier Break-Up Style: Deniers exist in highly toxic relationships. I don’t think anyone can be fully in denial with so many dysfunctional bells and whistles going off. The Denier is more of an avoider. They don’t want to talk about anything unpleasant and they certainly don’t want to rock the boat. They want to live in their own little bubble, where they can fantasize that things are as they wish them to be. While this isn’t so much, a break-up, as they consider themselves, still, fully, in the relationship – it is however, so toxic and lacking what most would consider normal relationship behaviors, that many would question its authenticity. The Denier is fully Codependent and their identity is so intertwined within the relationship, that they cannot see themselves as separate from it. They are not happy per se, but they are not willing or capable of doing anything about it. They live from a place of fear and spend a lot of time inside their own heads, daydreaming of how they wish their lives would be. Deniers are in it for the long haul and only an external force would have the ability to push them out of the relationship.
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