Is it the end or the beginning?
For many, ending a relationship can be a time of stress, self-doubt and worry, “Will I ever find love again?” “Am I doing the right thing?” “What will it be like if my partner finds someone else?” “How will I get through the sadness of missing my partner?” “How will I fill the void?”
We usually have a sense when something feels off or mismatched in our relationships. Often, clients come to therapy on the precipice of a decision of whether or not to stay in the relationship. They question if the relationship is “good enough.” They bring up a mismatch in core desires and values. For example, one partner craves physical connection while the other does not. One partner desires consistent conversation about his deeper emotional experiences in life, while the other is uncomfortable with talking about feelings. A wife wants a lifetime commitment to the relationship from her husband, while her husband feels the need to know that there is always a way out of the relationship.
If one chooses to end a relationship, then part of the process of therapy is to consolidate the learning from it and move forward with compassion for ourselves. As a therapist, I work with clients to access their true selves, in order to explore desires, values, and personal beliefs. We work through fear and self-doubt, to get to a space where a person’s true essence is present in the room. I am often humbled by a client’s strength to end a relationship with honesty, integrity, and a clear vision of what she has learned from her past relationships. We also work to bolster the client’s support network to move towards healing and a clearer understanding of relational desires in the future.
When we extend this compassion to ourselves, when we hear our voice, acquire new learning, gather support and find our strength, the end is just the beginning.
Written by Meredith Cohn, LCSW