The “Trying to End it” Basket

I think it was Dan Savage (OMG this guy makes me gasp at his advice in the Savage Love column, but he is truly so bright!) who said something once about the The “trying to end it” basket.

While I’ve spoken and written endlessly about the “stay or go” dilemma, finding yourself in the  “trying to end it” basket is not only a bit different, it can be even more painful because both parties are involved in this heart crushing quandary.

When a client comes to me beating their head against the wall, trying to decide if their relationship is “too bad to stay” or “too good to go”, most of them have been keeping it to themselves. Sure, they’ve been fighting. You bet their partner knows things are not going well. And yes, there have been times when someone’s shouted “I’m not doing this anymore!” Some have headed off for a night of cooling down at a friend’s house or even taken a short break, hoping to come back with a clear head and the ability to sit down and work things through. 

But that’s the difference. A part of them keeps holding on to the second part of the question – “Too good to go?” and remains emotionally invested.

When someone ends up getting stuck in “trying to end it” mode, I find they’ve actually made the internal decision to call it “done” and then keep falling into behaviors that keep them looping, hurting both parties unnecessarily


Because we can make a clear, heart centered, gut level decision and still let our wild and wacky emotions throw us around until we’re bloody and exhausted, causing us to stall, question, then have to back track, and begin again.

What are those disastrous behaviors?

  • Just when there seems to be a real “break” in the connection, an individual will reach out with a text to just say “hi” or make a call about a “quick question”
  • A person will be hit with a wave of emotion from a song or a memory, lose track of every requirement that wasn’t met and pretend they’re confused about why they’ve ended it
  • There will be an intentional push to move immediately to a “friendship” in the hopes that they can at least have something with the former partner to soften the breakup blow
  • They run a constant “Why?” through their heads which keeps them from truly facing the ending and continues to hook them to their partner in their minds
  • A person will blow past the opportunity to accept the ending and continue to sit and stew in anger over all that transpired. Anger becomes the great connector.

If you know in your heart of hearts that wasting one more day pretending you don’t know whether to stay or go has got to stop, then take a deep breath and as they say, “find your Brave.” Of course you can do this. You have everything you need to put one foot in front of the other and walk all the way out. And I’ll bet, more support than you are remembering.

Trying to end it without landing in that damn basket again? 

  • Tell at least one person who matters to you that you HAVE DECIDED and ask for support to hold to the decision
  • List the top 4 reasons that you are ending the relationship (they should be strong deal-breakers that were not met) and keep them on you so you can remind yourself when you feel weak
  • Share in a  clear, calm and direct manner with your partner that you’ve made the decision to end the relationship, say WHY without personal attacks (just the facts ‘mam) and tell them exactly what your next steps will be
  • Rip the band aid off and follow through on those action steps pronto for both of your sakes
  • Let your soon to be “former” know that to help with the ending for you both, you want to agree to “zero contact” for an initial period of time if at all possible
  • Lean on your support person/ Coach/ community during highly emotional times so you don’t run back, then get caught in the “trying to end it” loop again

Here’s what I want to say about all of this and I hope you will listen.

Life is short. If you’ve been contemplating an ending for quite some time, then pay attention to those feelings. One of two things is going on and I’m going to tell it to you straight:  either you’ve got some healing and growing to do on your end so that you can come into alignment with your best self and be a healthy, happy partner or you need to get honest with yourself about the deal-breakers that aren’t being met and be willing to take the lead and end the relationship.

Stop waiting.

Get fully in and to work on yourself so you can see that the pain was coming mainly from your end or get out, be grateful for what you learned and for the newfound freedom and be strong enough to stay the course and allow both of you to move on.

Emotional maturity requires that we cultivate the inner strength to act on our own behalf and that we practice resilience as we journey through life, understanding we can and will get through the tough emotional times. 

You can do this. 

Big love to you,