Splitting makes it much harder to get over a breakup, so it’s important to understand what it is. Here are 5 things you need to know to stop splitting and get on with healing:
1. What Is Splitting?
In one of my videos on YouTube, I answer a post where someone is waiting to reconcile with an ex who once came back after a breakup. She was so focused on the fact that he broke up with her once before and came back, she forgot that he also LEFT again after announcing that coming back had been a mistake.
Another woman said her ex mentioned reconciliation a few conversations ago. She was focused like a laser on that while forgetting he was still gone and she had no idea what he was thinking in the weeks since he said it.
These are examples of splitting, but there are plenty more.
People who are on their first breakup, or whose ex has never mentioned reconciliation, also split to avoid the pain of facing who their ex really is and how hurt they really are. People are devastated, thinking of the beginning love and when things were good, and ignoring the way things fell part or the many hurtful things that were done. The constant memories of when love was young and the relationship was new results in almost debilitating pain.
Splitting is mentally and emotionally separating the good traits and behaviors of your ex from the bad. It’s compartmentalizing your ex and concentrating on only one compartment. Splitting is very harmful to your recovery from this breakup.
Splitting is something I had done with my abusive husband and something abuse victims tend to do. They don’t know how to let go so they force themselves to ignore the terrible behavior (or worse, blame themselves) and concentrate on the person they fell in love with.
But it’s not just for abuse victims. It’s the mental magician trick of chopping people up into good and bad and being so in love with the good and just wishing that the bad is an aberration and was a phase or just go away or be something unusual.
2. Splitting Happens DURING The Relationship, Not Just During the Breakup
When the person you loved and who loved you starts to engage in unloving behavior toward you, you can’t make sense of it. This person compared to the other person does not make sense. At all. It does not compute. When the bad behavior starts, it’s easy to shove it to the side as it doesn’t comport with the person you know. Not. at. all.
You fell in love with the attention, the love, the cards, the calls, the gifts, the thoughtfulness. Now you struggle to ignore the snarky remarks, the inattentiveness, the thoughtlessness. This person was all about you then and now you wonder if there is someone else.
In your mind you hold onto what you HAD while ignoring what you HAVE. You tell yourself this is not the real person, the one you fell in love with is. But the person you fell in love with has not been around in a long time and the person who fell in love with you and treated you so well (as loving partners are supposed to do) is GONE. And gone for good. Even if he or she appears for a time, that’s not okay for the way they are treating you now is unacceptable. So stop holding out hope. The present person you are seeing is an ass and that is not okay.
But usually if you had been paying attention all along, you would have believed it. Usually the bad behavior does not happen overnight. It’s a slow, insidious process. You gave passes for the “now and again” bad behavior until it became the norm and then you just flat-out ignore it, hoping it will go away. Look back on the last months or even years of your relationship. How much bad have you ignored? How many times have you forgiven? How many times have you excused or justified?
If you acknowledge the bad behavior, you might have to DO something about it. And if you do something about it, you can no longer think of the great and wonderful things that happened at the beginning. You have to let go of the hopes and dreams that you had for the two of you. And then you’re left with nothing.
If you want to get over this, it’s important to stop splitting and start letting go. Many people talk of being in excruciating pain because they miss the loving person, the good person, so very much. They deny that the loving person has really been gone that long. Chances are, they have been and you’ve been ignoring their departure. If you began the splitting during the relationship, get honest with yourself about how much you’ve let go and get honest about what your ex was really like in the past few months or years.
3. Stop Rationalizing, Justifying, Excusing, Ignoring or Denying Bad Behavior
We want so much to believe that the hurtful behavior is NOT the person we love, but we are practicing denial when we refuse to accept what is happening. As I’ve said, so often, we often think, “I would never act like that…” so we try to believe the best about someone else, especially someone we’ve come to love.
We try to understand or excuse their behavior. We rationalize and justify…they’ve had a bad day…things are not going well…they’ve lost a loved one…they’re miserable in their job. We do everything we can to try to believe the way they are acting is not really who they are…but none of us act in a way that isn’t who we are…except for extreme and unfortunate circumstances.
And, as I say in Getting Back Out There, if your partner turns on you during extreme and unfortunate circumstances, that is NOT a healthy partner! Staying in denial about that is splitting. It’s choosing to ignore the bad and continue to embrace only the good. If someone truly is having a hard time and lashing out at you, that person does not deserve your excuses or your love. They don’t deserve you justifying and rationalizing their behavior while they hurt you. You’re being unfair to YOU when you do that. You’re giving someone permission, under the RIGHT circumstances, to mistreat you. And mistreating you is NEVER okay under ANY circumstances. And lashing out is something a healthy person who truly loves their partner, does not do.
4. Take a Good Look at Your Thoughts and Retrain Your Brain
It’s hard to stop splitting but you have to work to not get swept away in good memories…force yourself to remember and concentrate on the person who hurt you. Work on your cognitive skills to balance the knowledge that they are the same person. Whenever you are lost in revelry, come back to reality and concentrate on the hurtful things that happened. If you remember the ex said “reconciliation” 3 weeks ago, force yourself to acknowledge that it was THREE weeks ago and you have no idea what the ex has thought of since! If you are thinking about the fact you’ve reconciled before, force yourself to think that you’ve broken up MORE and a good relationship does not go through breakup/makeup countless times.
If you’re splitting, work on grieving the good person but keep acknowledging the hurtful person. They are one and the same.
To stop the splitting, you must start looking at your relationship history and your ex in a more objective way. It’s important to not dwell in the beginning of the relationship. It’s important to recognize and understand the times you have chosen to focus on the positive things said (maybe even recently) and ignore the actions. Make an effort to acknowledge that even though they said A, they did B. It’s work but you have to do it if you want to heal and move on.
5. Don’t Allow An Ex’s Wistful Thinking Send You Into Wishful Thinking
I’ve been counseling people post-breakup a long time. I have seen, time and time again, a thoughtless ex go to a client who has struggled mightily with the breakup. The ex will ask to “touch base” and start in with some wistful memories. They don’t want to get back together. They’re just feeling sad and, for some reason, feel the need to share that with the person they hurt! I’m astounded by this but have seen it over and over again.
They don’t want to get back together, they just want to stroll down memory lane once more. But my client usually doesn’t get that. This senseless, thoughtless walk down memory lane is usually mistaken for reconciliation or indication that the ex is having second thoughts. (“Look! My ex can’t live without me! I think my ex is beginning to understand that life without me isn’t great!”) It’s rarely that.
Usually the ex strolls off again…having gotten the fix they wanted and needed…leaving the client in tatters. If something like this happens to you, you have to concentrate on the fact that the memory lane madness is not nice after all, and worse, it’s MEANINGLESS. Don’t mistake an ex’s selfishness for genuine feelings. It will bite you in the end. Refuse to do a “post mortem” on the relationship with an ex. It will do you no good and serves no good purpose.
If You Want To Heal, You Need To Stop the Splitting
Stop the splitting. It will help you heal. It’s time to take charge of your brain, patrol your thoughts, make sure you’re not creating an elaborate, fantasy ex that only existed at the beginning, and be realistic about things.
Realize that both the good and the bad person are the same. And you don’t want the person who has hurt you deeply.
And be glad that person is not in your life.
But you still are.
Be good to yourself and put the two haves together…and then dump them both.
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