It’s an almost certainty that any relationship you are in right now is going to end. Relationships are more fluid than they ever have been before.
We don’t stay at the same job for 40 years, collect the gold watch and retire. We rarely stay married to the same person. We move, we shift, we evolve. Relationships end. It’s just the way it is.
The greatest chance you have of ending your relationships in a way that does not result in emotional distress is by planning for the break up at the beginning of the relationship. When you love each other.
Whether it’s a romantic relationship or a business relationship doesn’t matter. In the beginning there is love. At the end, there may not be.
But, if you plan for the end at the beginning, you are far more likely to be able to end the relationship with love and keep the door open for the possibility of flowing back together.
This is what having agreements is all about.
Create an agreement at the beginning your relationship and be exceedingly clear about what happens at the end.
I never used to do this and I wondered why my relationships ended poorly, with confusion and lack of clarity. With unhappiness and blame.
I recently ended a relationship. We had no agreement in place. The end was ugly. Not lawsuit ugly, thank God. But, emotionally ugly. Perhaps it could have been different if we had written down all the agreements we had made and talked about over the years.
When I hired a CEO to come in and run my company recently, I was awed by our process of creating an agreement. It wasn’t a negotiation; it was a dance. A courtship.
Start every relationship with this kind of a courtship. See the agreement process as an opportunity to discover something about yourself and this person you are entering into a relationship with.
Do they retract and constrict? Do you? Or is the dialogue open-hearted and loving? Where are you generous and yielding and where do you tense and hold back?
Discover how to set boundaries with an open heart. It’s the most loving thing you can do for all your relationships.
I like how you recommend we set boundaries on relationships. And when those boundaries are respected, things tend to work well.
I'm just curious – do you also keep it that way with family? Was your first thought when each of your children was born, “Now, when they die…” ? Truth be known, I find your view on relationships to be a trifle jaded. While most do end (all do, if you're immortal), a lot of them just go into stasis when your thoughts change.
Have you ever taken the time to really think about the particular emotions that “summon” particular people into your life? It's trippy…
Lex, this is such a great post and SO true! Yes, relationships are so different these days than they were in our parents' day, just like careers. Great observation. Can you imagine how much easier the break up process (or even divorce) would be if we walked in with a dissolution agreement from the very beginning? Wow. Thanks again for sharing your beautiful wisdom 🙂
I'm married and I often think about writing down our resolutions to arguments. This post motivates me to actually do it and not just think about it. This way, when those same arguments come up again we can refer back to what we felt the last time. Maybe we can bypass all the drama and focus on more positive things instead.
Thanks Britt. And if not dissolution agreements, at least the commitment to operate and end the relationship with honesty, open communication and love throughout.
Also, when the arguments come up begin to look at your patterns. Where is your part in the argument? What if you let go of being right and just loved exactly what was? When you write down your agreement, focus on what you are agreeing to and what you are expecting. Be clear about those things for yourself.
Wrapping myself around the concept of most relationships going into stasis when your thoughts change. I've got to feel more into that one. I suppose those aren't the types of relationships I'm talking about, but instead those that are more connected than what you've described – a partnership, marriage, source of support. It is true, I have had some friends who I was once close with and then wasn't and there was no “end” to the relationship per se, but we didn't have any sort of intertwining of kids, property, or even much emotion, really.