When I was told one of my childhood buddy’s boyfriend threatened to leave, I was actually irritated. As in, “Well let him leave nau, and free her for other better men! After all, he has only been wasting her time all this while” type of irritated.
Don’t blame me for not being empathetic this time around. I just feel like the relationship has gone on long enough and served its purpose, if it not going to the next level. Before you begin to wonder what I’m talking about. Let me tell you about Kewe, a childhood friend of mine, and her boyfriend of over ten years. They started dating when she was 19 years old.
She was one of the first among our mates to have a steady relationship and we had thought, before we would say Jack Robinson, they would have been married and creating tons of babies. Ten years down the line, every other person, in fact most of the girls with whom we were in school together, are married, (agreed, everybody has their timetable), most blessed with kids and here is Kewe, who had been doing this business since before we all ever thought of boyfriends. She is still somebody’s girlfriend and that status does not look likely to change, if the latest development in that relationship is anything to write home about.
Imagine, after 10 years, he is threatening to leave her. Isn’t that witchcraft?! Wickedness in high and low places sef. On one hand, I want him to leave, so the air around Kewe is clean and inviting for other guys, but on the other hand, I want her to be happy with this guy she had been with since forever. The choice is really hers, but I would prefer she let him go, before he lets her go.
But I digress, as this article is not about partners in toxic relationships or “situationships” like Kewe’s, (there I said it, because whatever it is that Kewe has got going with her beau isn’t healthy at all). This is for healthy relationships, where they sometimes disagree and in the heat of the moment threaten to leave or say the forbidden ‘D’ word. What do you do at those times?
Usually, in that contentious moment, it feels like what the person truly wants to do is leave, however, later, once both parties have cooled off, they can see things more clearly, and realise that breaking up isn’t so appealing after all.
I remember one funny anecdote a namesake of my husband’s shared about how to keep a wife. His strategy was simple; keep her pregnant for the first seven years of your marriage, with at least two years gap between the kids.
She will be too busy caring for the kids and getting pregnant to threaten to leave, and even if she did, there will be small people who will help you to change her mind. And by year 7, she will have lots of motivation to stay put rather than leave. I had laughed so hard that day and told him, “He never jam that kind crazy lady, who leaves even after birthing all the babies in her body.”
A woman, or man for that matter, can leave her/his relationship at any point in time, unless they don’t want to leave. The problem is, when a partner threatens to leave, it leads to even more confusion and disconnection within the relationship.
When your partner claims that he or she will break up with you and then doesn’t actually end the relationship, you might feel unsettled, angry and wondering what your relationship status actually is. It’s not a nice place to be in or to put your partner in.
If your partner threatens to leave often, then there is something wrong that you are not dealing with. It is simply a cruel game that nobody wins but you can manage it well, so you both don’t lose out in the end, or even if you are truly going to break up, you are able to do it with dignity intact.
I can imagine that there will be choice comebacks on the tip of every partner, who is threatened with a break up, but that is not the way to go. Saying the first thing that comes to your mouth will only make things worse.
So, first of all, you need to calm down. However you are going to do that, it’s achievable. It’s not possible to make a wise move or fully conscious decision when you’re feeling threatened, angry or the range of other emotions in between.
Take a deep breath and continue the conversation, mind you not argument. If matured conversation is still not possible, then you need more time to gather yourself. Until you do, don’t bother talking.
When you are able to talk rationally, then you can go back and ask your boo, whether breaking up with you is really what they want or it was said in the heat of the matter. I’m sure, by now, they would have calmed down too and seen the magnitude of their statement and if not, then you continue talking but give up on angry conversation.
Depending on the response you get, you might want to find a way to resolve things and if a break up is the only solution, then you need to have that final conversation and really listen to what is said. It might come in handy when you get coupled up again.
Reacting this way will break the angry thread and allow for respectful conversation. And if this is a game, then your reaction this way will put a stop to it, because your partner knows what your reaction will be. And it essentially leads to a healthier relationship, as you are talking more.
While you are at it, you should definitely have an honest talk with your partner about how you feel when he or she threatens to break up with you.
Like, I mentioned earlier, when a partner threatens to leave a relationship, something is wrong that is not been looked at. Although, it’s hard not to be heartbroken, statements like this, “I want to break up” or “I’m thinking about breaking up,” should be seen as a wake-up call that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. If and when these statements come out, then, it’s time to reassess the health of your relationship.
While it’s important to acknowledge whether or not you love and want to stay with your partner, go deeper. Is staying in the relationship wise for you? Are there habits or dynamics going on between you and your partner that seem unresolvable or that are unacceptable to you?
Are there solutions to whatever’s going in your relationship that you haven’t explored before now or the solutions comes with actions that you are not willing to take, for whatever reasons?
This reassessment will take a lot of introspection, and might not even be over in a day but it is quite important, that you are honest with yourself so that you can be honest with your partner.
Here’s wishing you all the best with your love affair. If it’s not working, let go with your dignity intact and if its needs work, put it in, you will get the reward.
Blowing some love dust your way!
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.