I’ve thought a lot about the ties that bind. Friends, family, partners. Our connections with others are a big deal. You might even say that the relationships we have today are a reflection or pattern of bonds we have had in our past (even in past lives).
Interestingly, knots and ties have been synonymous with relationship bonds since ancient times. For instance, take a look at the ancient handfasting rituals. This involves tying hands together, particularly to denote a wedding. Symbolically, this joins the couple in marriage. Its power derives from sympathetic magic: What is bound symbolically is also bound in reality. In fact, this ritual is where we come up with the term “tie the knot.”
Whether a romantic relationship, marriage, friendship, or family connection – what do we do when we’re confronted with unhealthy ties? These days, I’m more prone to loosen the knots rather than sever ties. That was not always the case in my history.
Some Thoughts About the Ties that Bind and Reassessing Relationships
If you are in a life-threatening relationship or dealing with death-dealing bonds with unhealthy habits, those ties clearly need to be cut out.
However, there are other connections in our lives that can be challenging, but also enlightening.
Looking back, I recognize I was guilty of cutting people off over nonsensical conflicts. I see now that although frustrating, these challenging relationships could provide many lessons had I kept them intact. So, before you say “adios” to a bond that is binding you, take a breath and consider:
Is it really worth severing the tie that binds?
If you’re thinking of calling the whole relationship off over an argument – then think about how much that argument is going to amount to in a year from now. Sometimes we make a mountain out of a hill of beans. And sometimes, a tiff isn’t going to matter 30 minutes from now, much less a year down the road.
Also, pick your battles. The battle of leaving the toilet seat up or down might seem important to win. There is probably tons of stuff your partner does that drives you nuts. While these irritations may add up, are these foibles really worth arguments and ending the relationship? No partnership, friendship, or family bond is perfect. The trick to keeping things healthy is behavioral reform and compromise from both parties in order to meet in the middle.
What’s the condition of the relationship?
If you’re dealing with friends, family, or partners who have health or mental issues, that’s a messy quagmire. I get it. However, you can stand back, or pull yourself out of the disease or mental condition. If you can step away from the mental or bodily erosion, you’re in a better position to stay tied while still respecting yourself within the relationship.
Are your needs being met?
If you’re clearly being taken advantage of (and you know when you are) – then it might be time to loosen the bonds in the relationship. Consider pros and cons, and make sure your needs are being met. At the end of the day, you are valuable, and you deserve to be valued.
The choice to sever bonds is never easy. It takes time to process what you need as well as consider the other party involved. All I’m saying here is that when we’re at our wits’ end, it’s tempting to cut off all ties. I’m also saying that sometimes loosening those ties might be a better tact than chopping up our bonds with others altogether.
Are the Patterns in Knots?
Everybody lives in patterns. From a young age, behavioral patterns become established and they kinda get stuck, predicting our future behaviors. Some of these patterns are healthy. Others get twisted into a snarled pile of knots. For instance, if you or your partner learned from a young age that the only recourse to communicate unhappiness is anger or violence – that’s a big knot that can cause problems in a relationship. Or if a family member is consistently reverting back to a guilt-trip pattern with you – that’s toxic.
The thing to consider in these situations is whether or not these patterned knots in behavior can be untangled. To attain the answer to that, you and whomever you’re entangled with have got to get painfully honest with each other. Counseling, therapy, communication, are all tools for determining if the patterns can be reformed and the connection can stay intact.
What Does Your Heart Tell You?
I think, inherently, we all know what is right and what is wrong for us. We’ve all stayed in relationships that we knew weren’t ideal, and definitely not serving us well. Our reasons for staying could range from the discomfort of moving out of our comfort zones, or reluctance to hurt the other person.
At the end of the day, your choice to sever the ties that bind is up to you. Go within, listen to your heart, listen to your spiritual guides. Assess the situation with maturity and radical honesty. If your deeper self whispers that it’s time to loosen whatever ties holding you back, listen.
Are Your Heart Strings Mismatched?
If we’re not growing and evolving, then we’re just stagnant. Sometimes that means outgrowing our partner, friend, or family member. Personal advancement isn’t the same for everybody. If you find you’ve changed to the point where you’re mismatched, it might be tempting to bail out of a bond.
While that’s understandable, realize that there are ways to move on without severing ties permanently. Read on for some tips on how to healthily manage moving forward.
Tips to Untangle Relationships in Healthy Ways
Now a’days I try to delicately loosen the knots of conflict instead of slicing relationships off altogether. After all, once a bond is severed, it’s hard to reestablish it. But what if, clearly, it’s time to say goodbye to a relationship? Here are a few tips to loosen the ties that bind with minimal damage on you or the other party.
Is a Different Level of Partnership Viable?
My biggest pattern in relationships is retaining friendships, even after clear goodbyes have been said. I learned this from my parents, who strove to stay friends even after a tense parting of ways. I was best friends with my last partner for years after our divorce. I’ve tried my best to mend fences with friends, family members, and partners so as not to make separations final.
It takes rabid honesty about what the new version of the relationship will look like. It also takes forgiveness and epic understanding on both parts. If there is a way to reinvent the relationship by taking it to a different level of partnership – I highly recommend it. Remember that these people are in your life for a reason, and you’re in their lives for a purpose too. Sometimes that reason might be as simple as maturing to the point where you can still retain the connection without cutting the ties altogether.
Make Respect Your North Star
If you can’t salvage a relationship, and you decide the best course of action is to end things – make respect your guiding star. That means maintaining integrity for yourself and whomever you’re separating from.
You might be angry and that anger might be totally righteous. However, ending a relationship by showing and speaking respect has a way of healing hearts and allowing you both to come away with heads held high. And remember, ideally, your choice to step away from the relationship should be about respecting yourself and valuing yourself. Keep that in mind and avoid feeling guilty.
Alternatively, avoid making the other party feel guilty to make you feel better. I can’t stress enough how maintaining integrity and respect for yourself and your partner is tantamount to healing and easier breakups.
There’s No Need for Re-Digging Dirt
It’s been said that relationships are like gardens. They require maintenance, weeding out problems, they need to be nurtured. If you decide to end your relationship, that means the garden work is over. There is no reason to re-till it. It’s tempting to explain all the reasons you’re ending the relationship. But is rehashing everything and citing every issue really necessary?
After all, you’ve already been through it once. You might have even tried to pick out the pests in your garden before the point of breakup. When you’re ending things, that’s when the relationship must go fallow – and you don’t till a garden when it turns fallow. It needs to rest, recover, lay still and use the pause in order to regain the power to grow again one day. So try to avoid recounting all the problems and re-tilling up all the dirt when you’re saying goodbye.
Speak With Love
I read somewhere that words spoken with love, are statements that are the most honest. While you may no longer feel love for whomever you’re breaking up with – you can still sever the ties in a loving way. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with that, then think about self-love. Speak from a place that values your needs.
When you break the bonds of a relationship, do so with compassion, love, and kindness for yourself. Realize this is an experience to take the high road, heal yourself, and love the next chapter in your life. When you speak from any position of love, even the most painful departures have a chance to heal.
The Last Word About the Ties that Bind
In the immortal words of Neil Sedaka, breaking up is hard to do. That’s why I wanted to share some alternatives to the painful proposition of saying goodbye. Every situation is different. However, sometimes we can find healthy loopholes to retain the ties that bind without feeling bound ourselves. Just thinkin’ As always, thank you for reading!
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