i really like this phrase "distancing". this whole discussion feels very relevant to me on lots of levels.
my current partner is still friends with his previous partner, and in the summer i was lucky enough to meet her and spend some time with both of them. despite huge nerves beforehand it went well, we liked each other a lot, and i found it a wonderful experience. she doesn't live in the same country as us, but if she did i would definitely want her to be part of my life, and i certainly hope i will see her again.
when they decided to stop being lovers, they did it in what seems to me a very healthy sane way. they just weren't making each other happy anymore and decided to change the relationship into a friendship. they "distanced" from each other. i can only hope that i am able to do the same when the time comes, and that my relationship with him changes rather than breaks down.
i have not managed this before, but then it's over a decade since i had another intimate relationship in any way similar to what i have with him, and for many of the intervening years i was celibate.
however i have had intense loving friendships which have changed dramatically. some have changed into other kinds of friendship, we "distanced" so as to remain loving friends.
two friendships however broke down this year, broke down so entirely that neither of them have any contact with me at all anymore. although i recognise that by this time it needed to happen, and that their presence in my life was indeed toxic for me in the end, i still miss them and above all regret that it came to such a complete end.
obviously breakdowns happen, and i find it incredibly sad when they do - whether its a relationship i am in or a relationship between two others that i care about - but i definitely see "distancing" or "evolving" as the thing to strive for where possible.
i hope i have learnt from my sad experiences this year and that i will be able to put what i have learnt into practise in the future so i can achieve this ideal.
thanks for this thread! good to be reminded and to be given more ideas for language to use...
apologies for the tangent here but this also made me think about the phrase "breakdown" in terms of mental illness. something i have some experience of. in 1998 i had what i call a breakdown. over the years since then i have been told i shouldn't call it that, by lots of people but especially by members of the health professions. they say it should be referred to as a "crisis" and a period of depression and anxiety. i prefer to use the word breakdown because that feels totally accurate to me in terms of what i experienced. i broke down, my body stopped working, like a car! i couldn't lift my head off the pillow, i couldn't eat, almost none of my bodily functions functioned for several months.
i guess what i'm saying is that sadly sometimes words like "break up" and "break down" just are the most accurate words to fit the experience, but that its worth acknowledging that there are other ways to change a relationship (or a state of mind!). in both cases i think its about seeing what is happening and what is likely to happen if steps aren't taken to change the situation, and taking those steps in good time. preventative measures, as it were.
remembering that staying together is not the goal. helping each grow and develop, and having fun together, are amongst the reasons to keep the relationship in its current form to my mind, and when that isn't happening its time to make changes.
a relationship changing is not a failure, and doesn't take away from all the good times shared and lessons learnt.
its only in hollywood/disney that a relationship has to remain the same forever for it to be seemed a success! just hope i can remember that...
Last edited by dakid; 03-15-2010 at 09:42 PM.
Reason: merge posts