‘TRYING TO LEAVE YOU’ Stages (Part 2)

cutting strings 

I GUESS THIS IS GOODBYE 😦How could this happen to me!?)

PREVIOUS: Intro, Differentiating, Limiting, Stagnating (#1)



Normal: The 2 people have been in a committed relationship, but no longer see themselves in the dyad. They’ve withdrawn their emotions & are ‘spending‘ them elsewhere. Deep emotional distance is an indicator that the union is no longer salvageable. Each person knows in their mind  & heart they’re detaching, & need to protect themselves.

• They reorganize their lives to avoid being together & may even verbalize it: “I don’t want to talk to ____”. It can also show up by sleeping in separate beds or rooms, & one or both looking for a new place to live.
• People not living together will avoid calls, emails & texts.
“Leave me a message & I’ll get back to you” , “I’m really busy, so I’m sure you’ll understand if we don’t get together this week”.
Usually there’s less fighting, but what’s left may be sniping, sarcasm, put-downs. Otherwise, communication is only about practical necessities

Normal: This stage can be done rather quickly or be dragged out for years.
• It is the actual physical leaving of the relationship with a little or a lot of psychological finality. If both parties can accept this, it makes it much easier to move on. I can’t do this any more. This is the end for me.”  — “Yeah, sure, whatever you say.”separation
• When one partner has come to their ending point, it’s important & respectful (‘clean‘) to actually tell the other person.  This is more likely with a longer-term connection.  Often with less developed ties, one person just stops taking calls, emails…

• Verbal messages are used to prepare for the end by only using ‘I’ or ‘me’ statements, & meant to create finality & permanent distance “This relationship isn’t working for me anymore” , “Please don’t call me again” .
• It’s not uncommon for one or both people to have another relationship, job, even a new city… waiting in the wings, even if the new ‘love’ is temporary, to get them thru the transition.
✶ Leaving may actually be a benefit for both, even if it hurts. They may need it to continue their career, their personal growth or to start a more suitable lifestyle.
♥               ♥                ♥
Re. ACoAs: It’s difficult to make notes for each stage separately because we are so extreme – not going thru the steps at all, going thru them all in the first few weeks or staying for years even when we know better…. We too experience endings (leaving or being left), but suffer more that people who are less wounded. So these are general observations of ACoA patterns

LEAVING:  Regardless of our style, personality type…. when we can’t bear it anymore – we leave, but rarely in a healthy way:
a. Even tho weither ore know it’s dead & hopeless, we desperately try to hang on, begging, manipulating, threatening to kill ourselves….
b. We cut people off – cold turkey, without explanation & refuse any opportunity for closure.  If they’re the Clinging type, they will be unprepared & dumbfounded. We’re angry or fed up. We don’t want to deal with their abandonment issues, their tantrums, their sulking & self hate. We don’t want to get sucked back in. Our boundaries are not strong enough & it’s just not healthy

c. One or both create such drama, fighting, emotional upheaval – that the only possible outcome is an explosion & then the big split.  We don’t want to feel our abandonment pain either – anger is a cheap, fast & sometimes cruel or physically dangerous way to get out
d. For some, no matter how bad the situation, there’s no leaving at all – only an ending when one partner dies
e. Some ACoAs are capable of more appropriate exits, but it’s rare

1. ACoA AVOIDERS: Some ACoAs are so afraid of commitment,
avoidersbeing trapped, being abused & then left, that they don’t make long-term connection at all, or they have short serial relationships, friends, jobs…
• They go thru these 5 steps very quickly, over & over, always finding fault with any hint of imperfection, always picking people & situations which reproduce our original abuse & abandonment, OR not giving themselves & others a chance to develop connections that would be beneficial

a. Fantasy
● ACoAs often start out in a fantasy fog of symbiosis, all hopeful & excited. There may be very little thought, just a whirlwind of feelings. Or the thought is: ‘This time it will be different’disillusioned
● Then the dis-illusionment.  The other person says or does something so unacceptable that it breaks the trance of togetherness.  It may be something truly inappropriate, or just that they pushed an old button of ours.
● We may object, complain, attack, but we stay rather than start over. We accept the unacceptable & spend a lot of effort covering it up. And we feel depressed.

NEXT: “Trying to Leave you” (Part 2) – Clingers (b), Leaving


11 thoughts on “‘TRYING TO LEAVE YOU’ Stages (Part 2)

  1. When my LTR ended after 13 yrs, I was unprepared for how hard it would hit. I lost my “family” (his), our friends….despite our amicable break up.

    We agreed we would always be friends. Sad, but I never resented our break up. It was our “real” ending that was awful….as in we still talked, even when he got a new gf, I did/do not wish unhappiness on him. He said I was the most quality person he ever knew. But I realized I seemed to call him more….so I backed off….we were speaking normally, he said he would call me back. That was 4 yrs ago! LOL.

    The specifics aren’t important other than I am puzzled by why people can exist in each others lives for so long, and assuming nothing bad transpired as in my case, why would all of these friends/family/bf abandon me? I get our abandonment issues – but the problem is, they really happen!! 🙂

    I didn’t expect to be there at xmas 🙂 but I thought these folks would at least care if I was alive. I had a serious health issue occur, everyone knew about it, not a single person checked in with me….not once. Not a call, not a card. I was stunned.

    No one explained, they just disappeared. I never burdened anyone at the time. One person ran into me and tried to explain…something to the effect that I was the strong one so they assumed I would be ok.

    I may be an ACOA, but I respected boundaries, never pushed, but the way things turned out blew my mind.

    So my puzzlement is in that given I have no family, I always believed it possible to create “family” via long term connections, and close friends. Today, given my experiences, I can only assume that is not truly possible, it seems blood is the only thing that really holds? Or did I make such poor choices in people, perhaps they were never really there for me. I loved these people for a long time, its a harsh consideration….but my only optimistic one! LOL

    Great posts, thanks!


    • Kira, compliment yourself for your appropriate behavior in difficult situations!
      Also, it is most common that the fam & friends of an ex always take sides AND stay away from the separated person. This has nothing to do with you or your choices.


  2. I am new to the drug and alcohol rehab environment. I’m a binge drinker type alcoholic. I am trying to get as much information as possible. It’s a survival tactic I am trying. I am nervous around people I don’t know and I am nervous about not knowing what is going on. Thank you for your post. It helps make things less uncertain.


    • You’re welcome. I know it takes courage, persistence & curiosity to recover form any kind of ‘disease’ – & it’s useful to know what’s underneath our need for addictions. Inner Child work is very helpful – being as loving, patient & kind to ourselves as we can!


  3. I have been in a relationship with a woman for about 5 months. Intimacy and sharing feelings appears to be VERY difficult for her. A month ago, I went to her parents home and found bottles of alcohol on the kitchen counter. I found it strange. I saw childhood pictures of a young girl who looked sad and almost vacant. Putting everything together, I believe that she is an adult child of an alcoholic.

    A friend recently met her and suggested that she smiled “all the time” and “way too much”. Getting to the “real” her seems impossible and frustrating. I have asked her if she felt that her parents had a drinking problem and she answered no. My gut tells me that she is an ACOA.

    I don’t think things are going to change, particularly since it appears that she doesn’t want to talk about her parents, her upbringing or her childhood. She told me that she hasn’t had a relationship for 8 years.

    Here is my question… What is the most loving way that I can end this relationship with her? Do I tell her that I strongly suggest that she is ACOA and that there are groups that can help her heal? Would this not trigger a deep sense of shame?


    • Hi, Thanks for you comments & Q. I think you’re right in your various assessments. Unfortunately there’s no way to prevent how bad she’s going to feel – if you’ve been reading this blog you know that for unrecovered ACoAs any form of ‘abandonment’ is going to automatically result in self-hate.

      However, the ‘right’ way to communicate is to make ‘I statements’ as much as possible, focusing on how you feel emotionally, not just on what you think. These suggestions can be re-worked to suit your style & the situation:
      “From all my observations & knowledge, I truly believe you’re an ACoA. I think it would benefit you to go to Al-Anon / ACoA meetings, but maybe it’s too painful for you to admit your parents are alcoholic, & I know I can’t push anyone into something they’re not ready for”

      “I know you’re a good person. At the same time I’ve noticed several things about the way you are with me & other people that make me uncomfortable & sad:
      — I experience you being emotionally unavailable, you don’t talk about your feelings, you smile all the time even when something is upsetting…. ….” (ADD other examples)
      “I want to be with someone who is ……. ” (ADD the qualities you’d like in a partner)

      If you think it’s appropriate you can suggest she read this blog – pick out a few relevant posts to get her started, like ‘Are you an ACoA’, ‘ACoAs & Self-Hate’,’ Abandonment Pain, now’, ‘The Introject’……

      Be as kind to yourself as possible in the aftermath of the breakup, especially if she lets herself show being upset, attacks you or begs – we don’t like to see others suffer, but your first priority is to provide the best for yourself & your IC. I wish you well.


  4. With all respect, as someone who was dumped by an ACoA – when I asked, after 2-years of dating, where the relationship was going and 6-months of their avoidance of the question – a lot of the “Acts of Distancing” seem to follow the methods used in the general (non-ACoA) populattion.

    That said, as both this person I are middle-aged, the avoidance, emotional immaturity, trust, committment, intimacy, need-for-approval and victimhood issues cited as common among ACoAs were enlightening to me.

    As someone on the other side of this – i.e., who was formerly romantically involved with an ACoA, I think it’s important for ACoAs to be mindful of hurting others who care about them by not dealing with their own “stuff”. (Of course this is true of everyone and is hardly limited to ACoAs!)

    Give the other person a heads-up to give them an opportunity to understand what they’re dealing with to enable them to get some closure.


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