Things to Consider On The Cusp of a Breakup

Libby Shively McAvoy
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I have had my fair share of struggles in relationships, but I look to each as a learning opportunity. Let’s face it; confrontation is not fun for most compassionate, caring people. I now help clients decide whether to repair their relationship or uncouple gracefully and then lead them through whichever process they decide.

Conflicts are a normal part of long-term relationships, no matter how much love you have for one another. They can be resolved respectfully, or they can be very hurtful. The level of emotional intelligence each person has may determine the outcome.

High levels of emotional intelligence create a confident and empathetic person. This person understands how their words and actions affect those around them. They are aware of their partner’s feelings, body language, and tone of voice.

Living Situations

When a couple resides separately, one person may walk out to avoid mental madness. But, walking out is a form of stonewalling and detrimental to mental well-being. It leaves the partner feeling unheard, discarded, and unappreciated.

If you live together during a conflict, you may feel trapped or like you are walking on eggshells.

So, each living situation brings its own set of complications. You have to decide if this conflict is a deal breaker where you leave the relationship, if you need a separation, or if the conflict can be resolved.

Steps For Decision Making

Step one- know what you are arguing about to begin with.
Step two- What is the desired end result?
Step three- Take time before making rash decisions in the heat of the moment. Explain to your partner you need a few minutes to gather your thoughts.

When a time-out feels right because you have entered a state of fight or flight, ask yourself:

  1. What is the benefit of resolving the conflict. 
  2. What is the conflict really about?
  3. What would my life be like without my partner?

Benefits of Resolving Conflicts and Staying Together

  • Learning what you can do better.
  • Learning what your partner needs from you.
  • Taking personal responsibility.
  • Learning to practice forgiveness with your partner.
  • Making up has its own benefits 😉.

Understanding Conflict

  1. Before we can resolve conflict, we must first understand the moving parts. 
  2. Can you identify what caused the argument or disagreement?
  3. Do you care more about being right/winning or how your partner feels?
  4. Is your partner respecting your boundaries?
  5. Is either of you name-calling, raising your voice, or talking over the other person?
  6. Is there really a problem to be resolved or do you have unmet emotional needs?


Often we start a disagreement over something trivial, but it reveals a bigger underlying emotional need. It is wise to be honest with yourself. Let go of the ego.

Often anger is a mask for fear. We fight hard when we fear losing what we love, but in reality, the harsh anger pushes our loved one away. It can be a very toxic cycle.

Learn to communicate your needs vulnerably with your partner and have open conversations before resentment builds.

I often am asked if relationships can be saved after a big blowup. I wish I could answer that. The truth is that it is highly dependent on the cause of conflict and on how the couple goes about resolving it. Those who can talk face-to-face, without raising their voice, with the intent of understanding each other have a much higher chance of success.

Remember why you fell in love to begin with. You are on the same team and need to help each other solve problems. Each conflict brings an opportunity for growth as a couple where your bond can strengthen.

If you need help navigating conflict, consider therapy or relationship coaching, where a third person can moderate and guide the conversation. This way, you avoid blaming, shaming, and contempt which are all very harmful in a relationship.

You deserve a happy, healthy relationship. It will undoubtedly come with some bumps along the road. These tips will help you navigate more gracefully.

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Libby is a Personal Development and Relationship coach specializing in emotional intelligence. By blending motivational speaking, leading yoga and wellness retreats, and writing, she has mastered the art of living her best life while helping others.

Cincinnati, OH

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