Relationship breakups are never happy, easy and seldom quick. Most breakups instill emotional pain in both partners – no matter who triggered it and who was struck. The process of separation follows a wave-lines of emotional, physical and communicational intensity – oscillating between distancing and closeness.
In breakups where one partner decides to move on and pursue a separate life on his or her own, the other is often more or less taken aback and hence more or less in shock. The phase of shock can manifest in emotional numbness, paralisation or denial – pretending that nothing happened and trying to continue life as usual – thereby not accepting the change in reality.
However, more often than not have we seen the passive partner of the breakup going faster through the motions of anger, protest, sadness and despair than expected. And what’s more, faster than the active partner who was driving the breakup.
The active partner probably fantasised about the time after the breakup and thereby idealised the regained freedom of single-life and all the things that he or she would not have to deal with anymore – the flaws and annoyances of the couple. But then he or she realises that there are many things that suck about being alone and many of the fantasies where just that – idealised castles in the air.
The mood and confidence of the active partner (the one who wanted the breakup in the first place), can be challenged when the passive partner, who suddenly found her/himself without a partner, now becomes more and more active. These partners can be observed as flourishing and transforming often out of reflection and opportunity.
In order to handle and manage the emotional and technical process of separation, it can be very helpful to seek the guidance and support of a couples counsellor who understands the grief and painful experiences both partners go through and who can help to find an accepting and appreciative way of communicating. A smoother transition helps to appreciate and preserve what was good between two people in a respectful way.