During a class I attended recently, we were having a break time conversation that came around to the topic of what to do when a long-term relationship suddenly ends without any closure. Of course there are reasons such as death which preclude any type of closure. However, in regards to other relationships that abruptly end without explanation, I call it “people dumping”.
Ever have a long-term friend that suddenly stops replying to your emails and voicemails? This void leaves you no explanation, no opportunity to appreciate all the history you’ve shared or to say good-bye. How about the scenario where you are confirming lunch via text and in the middle, the replies suddenly fall off? You might be left with a feeling of bewilderment – “What just happened?”. There are also individuals who are very sensitive to the wording in a text or email, and can take what you said as an insult without offering you an opportunity to apologize or set things right.
In all of these people dumping scenarios, the person being dumped is likely left with an open (dangling) thread. They may feel regret, sadness, anger, and a general sense of non-closure or lack of resolution. The same may happen in shorter term relationships where people promise, “I’ll stay in touch,” then…nothing. For the person who does the dumping, I would ask what caused the shift and what disallowed you from acknowledging what the relationship meant to your life?
People hold relationships in different ways which we can see in personality assessments and people’s lifestyles. A few examples would include:
- People who see people as objects versus seeing them as people
- Extroverts versus introverts
- Social butterflies versus home bodies
- People with close-knit families versus those disowned by their families
- Abused or traumatized individuals who distrust
I recently worked with someone who had mixed feelings about the sudden ending of a friendship, and using the technique of Voice Dialogue was able to gain a new perspective. The person gained a better understanding of the part of themselves that avoided gaining closure and the part of themselves that wanted to boldly go forth and “confront” the other person. The end result was a feeling of peace, an action step to gain closure, and an enhanced ability for self-forgiveness instead of feeling at fault.
There is no doubt that relationships change over time and sometimes no longer serve our best interests. The impact of how they end can either be honoring of what was or create an open wound of confusion regarding what happened.
Do you honor yourself by gracefully closing relationships with those where there is no longer a fit? Do you hold on longer than appropriate to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings? Do you dump people because you can’t be bothered or don’t understand the implications of abrupt endings? Remember, when we devalue someone else, we devalue ourselves. Healing your Heart Coaching is a great way to look at the gifts in any unresolved relationships – https://systemsofchange.com/home/for-individuals/foundation-coaching/.