Do you find yourself avoiding home because somehow it doesn’t feel safe? That when you are home, it feels like you are walking on eggshells? Does your partner screen all your calls and/or tries to micro-manage your finances, relationships with others and daily activities? Do you feel unsafe and that you must constantly filter your thoughts? These are all huge red flags that you are not in a healthy relationship.

While I am a huge believer in avoiding black and white thinking in relationships, some things are clear cut. Love should not be “complicated.” You should be able to relax around your partner, speak freely and trust that even if you disagree on something you will both maintain a minimal level of respect, i.e. avoid name-calling, sarcasm, cynicism, or stone-walling. Neither one should feel empowered to make unreasonable demands or ultimatums. You should respect each other’s boundaries, and never doubt the commitment to the relationship.

We all look for a major lapse of judgment as the cause for a break-up, i.e. infidelity, but sometimes it’s an accumulation of micro-aggressions that have cut deep without leaving any visible scars, which I call death by a thousand paper cuts.  Either way, leaving an unhappy situation is the most complicated part of all, particularly the longer you have been together and the more entangled your lives have become over time.  If you have combined your finances, share a home, or have kids together,  much more thought and planning needs to go into the development of an exit plan and you may need to involve an therapist for moral support and lawyers for legal assistance.

Once you do separate, unless you need to communicate about some important logistical issue, less is best.  Going no contact is intended to give you the space you need to heal.  You need time to clear your mind, and in order to do so you may need to set bright-line boundaries with your ex.  If that person continues to annoy and/or harass you on a regular basis you need to send them a cease and desist notice in writing, and then keep track of each and every time they violate your request to stay away.  High conflict personalities, like those with Narcissist Personality Disorder (NPD) will not respect your boundaries, and eventually, you may need to involve the authorities and take legal action.  

Ultimately, you have to decide what is best for you, but if you want to restore sanity to your life and possibly make room for a healthy relationship in the future, you cannot allow your ex to suck you back into Crazytown with empty promises, gifts, or the excuse of trying to remember the good and forget the bad in order to salvage a friendship.  Why?  Because simply put true friends are people you can trust, and they don’t intentionally hurt you.   This reality (unlike the sordid past of an NPD) should not be complicated.

By Regina A. DeMeo