Building community in a changing world

December 15, 2021

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

I’ve blogged before about this 45-minute dharma talk from Jonathan Foust about the nature of romantic relationships. Here are some of the points he makes about breaking up (the breaking up stuff starts at the 24-minute mark):

– How do you know when it’s over? Ram Das (through a channeled Emmanuel – long story) asks “how do you know it’s over?” The answer is ‘quite frankly my dear, when you’ve had enough’. This is a really edgy thing because leaving a relationship can be life-affirming but you’re also running away from a personal growth opportunity.

– You might get to a point where you’re asking “have I really turned over every stone?” You just realize that the relationship isn’t working anymore. You tell each other what lights each of you up and you’re unable to support each other in that.

– Breaking up has the same five stages as grief: denial, bargaining, anger, resignation & depression, accommodation. You can’t rush through grief. Acknowledge the hurt and the loss but don’t indulge in it so that it’s all-consuming.

– If you get dumped, you’ll have the challenge of needing to overcome the neurological grooves that the relationship imprinted in your brain. You have to mindfully break the pattern by changing the channel and avoiding the dopamine craving by the brain that can be fulfilled by obsessing about the past. Take proactive steps like removing the material possessions that provide reminders of your former partner, keep busy, lean on friends that tell you that you need to break the pattern. Literally change your physical state through exercise. Consider seeing a therapist to learn more about yourself.

– When you’re ready to try a new relationship, you have the opportunity to be more awake about what you really want. There’s a natural tendency to have a negativity bias about your past relationship, the traits that your former partner had. But you can actually use that experience to your advantage – pick out the aspects you liked and that can help you generate a composite of what enlivens you. Ask what do you really want? That’s your guiding light.