Three Potential Solutions:  Breaking it off, Cutting Communications Temporarily, or Fix It On the Fly

Option 1- Break it off?

Cutting contact with the other woman is the ideal potential solution.  A split should be seriously considered. Like diving into a cold swimming pool, or suddenly ripping off the bandage, there is great relief available to those with the decisiveness to end the relationship completely.

You know it can’t last anyway.

It might amaze you how your perspectives change when you no longer have the influence of your enmeshed relationship skewing your decisions.

Is God asking this of you?  His purposes for you are always the best.

Option 2- Temporarily Cut Communications

Setting a defined time of zero contact has proven to be successful for many women.  During the separation, new habits can be developed.  After a few weeks of grieving, some new realizations start to form…. the first of which is that life is possible without her constant presence.  We make new friends out of necessity.  We gain objectivity when the peace starts flowing back in our lives.

How much time? A month is too short, since it takes at least that long to feel like we can even function with our grief. Three months can work, but it’s still short enough that it’s possible to, “white-knuckle” our way through it, without accepting the fact that we need new interpersonal resources.  Six months to a year is the usual time frame.

Option 3- Fix It On the Fly

Start Saying NO, Start Saying YES

Stepping back from her gradually, and stepping into healthier resources. 

We always give this option a chance, don’t we? Every once in a while, it actually works.

Our years of isolation, neglect and rejection can leave us unprepared for a sudden removal of this vital person. Sometimes the woman in our life is just so personable and intriguing!  We didn’t become so engrossed with her because she is a charmless bore.  But just as stolen food still fills the empty belly, so an unhealthy relationship will do when nothing else is accessible.  Undeniably, there are emotionally nutritious elements.  However, we end up ingesting many toxic elements along the way.

Simply ejecting the woman from our schedule doesn’t resolve the inner problems that got us there in the first place.  If those problems are not resolved, we will simply go out and find another woman, and repeat the cycle.  How many dependencies have we been through already?!  If, however, the inner problems do become resolved, then we won’t feel so compelled to put ourselves through the misery of yet another unhealthy relationship.

Start taking ground by eliminating the self-defeating behaviors as much as possible. Establish space between yourself and the other woman in manageable increments. 

Diversify- Stepping Into Healthier Relationships

Diversification is a common financial term.  A good investor doesn’t put all his money into just one company.  He knows that all investments are risks. He does the research to see which ones are the safest risks and then invests with several of them.  We spend our most precious resources on the costliest of commodities: our relationships.  Like a good investor, we devise ways of testing people to find out if they are trustworthy or not.  If we find them trustworthy, we then risk letting them come nearer to our hearts, and see how they treat us.  If they prove unreliable, then we back off a step or two.  Sometimes, we just cut our losses and start over somewhere else.

If the majority of our emotional resources are bound up with just one person, then we will find ourselves in an insecure position.  If that person fails to meet all of our interpersonal needs, then we have nowhere else to turn.

Our friend can find this situation very flattering at first, but it can be taxing.  In essence, we are asking her to fill multiple roles.  Not only is she our closest friend, but she becomes the stand-in for our mother, our boyfriend, our child.  She may even find herself occasionally standing in for God.  She knows that she’s not going to be enough.

The Scriptures give us the antidote to loneliness: “God sets the lonely in families,” Psalm 68:6.  Does that mean we won’t find relief until we are married with a bunch of kids?  Yikes!  NO!  The Bible refers to other believers as being the “Family of believers,” Galatians 6:10.  We need a spiritual mother, a spiritual sister, a spiritual father and a eventually a child who we serve and mentor.

Not a Lone Battle

No matter what option you choose, it is essential to enlist the help of an accountability partner to strengthen and encourage you.  It is well-documented that accountability is the biggest gun in the arsenal of any kind of recovery. See Freshwater article, “Accountability Partnerships” for an overview of why accountability works, and how to find one.

The accountability partner is essential, but it’s not a bit uncommon to see a woman assault this problem by supplementing with a support group AND a counselor. Emotional dependency is all about disordered relational parts of the soul. Healing WILL NOT HAPPEN OUTSIDE OF RELATIONSHIP.

(By the way, where is Part 6 in the series?  It hasn’t been written yet.  It will be about balanced, healthy relationships with God, self and others. We will learn to soak up the forgiveness of Christ, to make the use of our friendship with ourselves, and to enjoy enriching time with others.)