How to not make "I'm going to break up with you" relationship threats even worse!
John doesn't know what to believe anymore.
He has actually become used to his girlfriend's threats to break up with him. It seems like every time they have an argument or she gets irritated with him, she declares that she's going to end their relationship and that she's “done.”
This is upsetting for John to hear and the first 4 or 5 times she threatened to break up with him, he did everything he could to calm her down and make everything okay between them again.
What usually happens is the argument dies out or John gives in to what she wants and they return to normal. It all feels to him like a game. His girlfriend seems to pull out the “I'm breaking up with you” card whenever she's unhappy with him. She knows that he'll jump and do whatever she wants him to do.
Last night it was John who was “done” with his girlfriend's threats. She was upset that he planned to spend the holidays with his family instead of with her and said, “If you leave me alone for the holidays, you might come back and find yourself alone and single!”
John rolled his eyes at her and left the room. He's not sure what he'll say when they talk again.
We've all been in the heat of the moment when angry words are said or actions are taken that we later regret. Sometimes in a love relationship or marriage, one person gets so upset he or she will threaten to end the relationship. In that contentious moment, it feels like what the person truly wants to do. Later, once both have cooled off and are seeing things more clearly, breaking up isn't so appealing.
This leads to even more confusion and disconnection.
When your partner claims that he or she will break up with you and then doesn't actually end the relationship, you might feel unsettled, angry and wondering what your relationship status actually is.
As with John's relationship, your partner might have a habit of threatening to break up with you when things get tense or difficult. This can feel like a cruel game that nobody wins.
There are many moves you might make if your partner threatens to break up with you. Here are a few we do NOT recommend...
-- Don't call your partner's bluff about breaking up unless you are ready to really follow through.
-- Don't call your partner a liar or other names that might pop into your head out of frustration.
-- Don't ignore it or pretend that the threat wasn't made.
-- Don't leave and then go hook up with your ex or someone else to get back at your partner.
-- Don't complain about how “crazy” your partner is to your friends.
Don't play games too.
There are all kinds of reactions you might be tempted to take when your partner threatens to break up with you. It can feel manipulative and upsetting to hear the words “I'm going to break up with you____” and not be sure whether or not your partner is actually ending the relationship.
The very first thing we recommend is that you find a way to calm down. You can't possibly make a wise move or a conscious decision when you're feeling panicked or furious (or something else in between).
Take a deep breath. Ask your partner to give you a few minutes, but be clear that you want to keep talking about this. Calm down and then return to the conversation.
Ask your partner to back up and confirm that breaking up with you is truly what he or she is considering doing or is literally doing right now. You could say something like, “I hear that you are upset, but are you really going to break up with me?”
Depending on the response you get, you might follow up with the question, “How can we work together to resolve this issue?” Honor your own boundaries and really listen to what is said.
The more you can interrupt the dangerous game in which your partner threatens to break up and you react in your usual way, the better off you'll be.
You can also be honest with your mate about how you feel when he or she threatens to break up with you. Use “I feel____” statements to effectively convey how it is for you when this happens.
Re-assess your relationship.
Any time that your partner says to you, “I want to break up” or “I'm thinking about breaking up,” take it seriously. This is a wake up call that something is awry.
It's probably time to re-assess the health of your love relationship or marriage.
While it's important to acknowledge whether or not you love and want to stay with your partner, go deeper. Is staying in the relationship wise for you? Are there habits or dynamics going on between you and your mate that seem un-solvable or that are unacceptable to you?
Maybe there are solutions to whatever is going on that you haven't opened up to yet. Maybe there are “solutions” to your relationship problems, but they aren't actions you are willing to take.
Be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with your partner.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.
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