What To Do (And Not Do) When Your Partner Threatens To Leave

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What To Do (And Not Do) When Your Partner Threatens To Leave

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 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. Because nothing can prepare you for what to do if your partner threatens to leave.

RELATED: 8 Subtle Signs You're About To Break Up

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.

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're 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.

There are all kinds of reactions that might seem tempting 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.

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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're 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.

Then, 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 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 unsolvable or that are unacceptable to you?

Maybe there are solutions to whatever's going on that you haven't opened up to yet. Maybe there are “solutions” to your relationship problems, but they aren't actions you're willing to take.

Be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with your partner.

RELATED: This 30-Second Test Will Tell You If It's Time To Break Up

Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect, and create the relationship they desire. Get a free copy of their ebook, Passionate Spark, Lasting Love.