Stop! Don't push him out the door when you should be fighting for the relationship
Do you push your partner away when you're in trouble? Sometimes when one partner is in pain, he or she will tell the other person to leave. Especially if your partner is the threatening to leave, your hurt feelings may cause you to react by saying, "Fine, just go!" You might mean that you want them to leave for the night or forever. In reality, many times when this happens you actually want your partner to stay and fight for the relationship -- you don't want them to go at all!
Why do people say “go” when they really mean “stay”? Here are 4 things to keep in mind if this is happening in your relationship. Once you’ve read the article, check out the music video below for “Now I’m All Messed Up.” It illustrates how we can sometimes tell someone to go, or start threatening to leave, when we really love them and want them to stay with us.
1. Get clarification first!
If your partner threatens to leave, what exactly does s/he mean? Does it mean s/he is breaking up with you? Threatening a break up is a pretty serious card that can’t be played all the time. Or, does s/he mean s/he is leaving for the night? Either way, you need clarity about what your partner’s leaving means before you become reactive so you can better understand what to do next.
You can’t force your partner to stay, but you don’t have to push them out when all you want is for them to stay. If you want the relationship, fight for it. Don’t give up! Share that you want the relationship to last, even if it feels very scary and vulnerable. Take the risk. If they are walking out, there is nothing else to lose.
3. Work to rebuild a secure attachment.
When you see your partner upset, threatening to leave, or emotionally distancing, this can be very scary. The security in your attachment to each other becomes unstable. Instead of pushing them out to “rip the Band Aid off”, reach to your partner and try to find closeness again.
4. Don’t confirm your partner’s fears.
Your partner may be at wits end, not knowing how to make things change. They might be threatening to leave because they fear things can’t get better or aren’t sure how to start the journey of making things better. If your response is to say “go,” it only confirms that there is no hope left. It makes them feel unwanted and uncared for if you can opt out that easily.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653