Sometimes you can become so frustrated and resentful with your partner that it may seem easier to just end the relationship. You may feel like you can no longer tolerate your loved one’s behaviour and see no way to fix it. So you ponder the idea of leaving. However, there is another way to move forward. The way is through loving detachment.
Choosing to live with loving detachment means that we let go of expectations of our partner and refocus our attention on ourselves. We allow others to be in charge of their lives and we don’t try to manipulate or control the outcome of their behaviour. Instead, we focus on taking charge of our own lives.
If you are feeling angry, anxious, or afraid, you may try to control your partner and try to get their behaviour to be different. Controlling may work in the short term, but it won’t accomplish what you want it to in the long term. It may lead to continued resentment and frustration on both ends. Even if your partner follows through with your requests, the sense that they are being pressured to do so will likely make it backfire.
Loving detachment allows you to acknowledge that they are their own adult with their own thoughts, feelings and desires. They have a right to make decisions based on what they feel is best for them. This may go against what your needs or desires are at the moment, which can be quite challenging to deal with. However, communicating what’s on your mind and allowing your partner the space to have their own response is what helps you get out of gridlock and contributes to a healthy relationship.
How We Can Practise It
Here are some other tips to help you step away from dynamics that lead to resentment, engage in loving detachment and focus more on what you can control— yourself.
–Discovering yourself: Focus on nurturing yourself and your own life’s purpose. Find meaning in life that is independent of your loved one. It’s important to recognize your own worth and that you are deserving of love and a sense of purpose. This will also take the focus off of trying to get your partner to be all the things that you want them to be. It will help enable you to accept them for who they are.
–Be aware: Recognize that you can not get all your needs met by just one person. We need a community of people to be there for us. Take what your partner has to offer but don’t have expectations for more. This will lead you to feel empty, resentful and bitter. At times our loved ones may be at a point in life where they are struggling and not able to show up for themselves, let alone us. If we think we are owed a particular kind of affection and continue to try and get it from them, we will end up feeling hurt and sad. Soothe that part of you that can’t get your needs met at this point and know that it also may change in the future.
–Set boundaries: It is important to set clear boundaries for yourself. Although love itself may be unconditional, it is not reasonable to be expected to accept someone’s behaviour unconditionally. Take note that a boundary is what you are willing to accept and not accept in relation to you and your space. A boundary does not consist of trying to control or tell another person what to do when they are not in proximity to you and impacting your space.
–Avoid the ‘rescuing’ mindset: Avoid trying to rescue them. If you sacrifice yourself when you are trying to rescue another then you will likely become resentful and have nothing left to give. If your energy is spent on thinking about your partner and their issues and the resulting impact on you, then you are not focusing on your own aspirations and dreams in life.
–Find acceptance: Accept the fact that no relationship is permanent, and that one day this too will end. Embrace the shared experience that you are currently having for what it is and all that it brings to your life. Appreciate all the lessons and joys and then release them from your mind and let nature take its course. The main point is that you don’t need to try and control the outcome.
–Let go: Let go of the need to fix or change your partner. Recognize that you can try to give someone advice but you can’t force them to follow it. You are also not the person who would have to deal with the consequences of taking the advice. You can ask them if they would like help or feedback. However, if they are not interested in change, you have to let it go.
If you and/or your partner would like to learn more about this topic, contact Dr. Kristin Zeising here. Dr. Kristin Zeising specialises in working with adult individuals and couples, and is a Certified Sex Therapist through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counsellors and Therapists (AASECT).