50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Family of Origin, Relationships

The problem is all inside your head, she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover
50 Ways to Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon

What’s the message we’re giving here? Aren’t we interested in improving relationships, in staying closer? Why do we recommend you leave your lover?

When we are ready to hear that there is a way in which this might be true then we can be open to change. And as with many truths, it’s paradoxical. If we have the option of leaving then we have the possibility of truly staying, and staying in a new way. Let us explain.

The Unconscious Deal

Many of us have felt incomplete in our lives, and many of us continue to do so. Starting from our early days, we began to look outside ourselves for what it is we thought could complete us.

This is such a valiant search, there’s such a deep desire to be whole, to heal wounds engendered possibly by family and by our world in general.

But it’s a hard search, leading often to addictive behaviours, to drugs, disconnected sex, self-hate, self-aggrandisement, depression, over work, over emphasis on money. The list is endless. And one key element of the search can be our relationship to our lover, our intimate partner. We ask (often without even realising we are asking) “How can this person heal me, how can they fill the yawning hole within me, the ache of emptiness and wounding?” or “How can they represent something for me, something that reflects back my wholeness?”

So our lover becomes the attempted salve for a problem that’s a terror we hide even from ourselves. What does this do to our relationship? Well, the relationship can’t be free, if it comes with deep conditions placed upon it, conditions that distort our interactions with our lover despite our insistence that all is well.

And no matter how much we struggle with this and deny it, the truth is it’s a conditional love; one in which an unconscious “deal” has been made with our partner. Despite how much we might both say “No, the relationship’s fine, let’s get on with life”, cracks can’t help but show. Paint them over, buy the next house or car, go on the next holiday… but the wound remains.

Another Way

Another way is to begin to look at this set-up. Learn to withdraw our attachments from our intimate partner. Although it’s true that some couples need to actually split, in many cases, instead, this withdrawal from unconscious enmeshment is the “leaving” that’s needed.

Dive deep into the wound of incompleteness, worthlessness, lack, and see this as the path to becoming whole. Discover for ourselves that what we lacked could never have been found outside ourselves, it was always waiting for us, deep within.

And in rediscovering this truth (which we may have never consciously known) – that what we sought was in the depths of ourselves – we then have the possibility of re-connecting with our partner in a new way, free from conditions. True intimacy can come only with freedom, when we are not driven by the addictive need for the other.

(Unexamined conditions are very different from conscious agreements that we might make with our partner. It’s the unexamined conditions that are the pollutants.)

Leave But Stay

So, to paraphrase, consider this possibility: “Leave But Stay”. Do the work, and when we’ve “left” the relationship, learn to “stay” in a completely new way.