De-Escalation Tactics That May Help Save Your Relationship From A Breakup

With all that we have going on in our lives, sometimes our relationships suffer because of it. Although relationships are thought to be a safe haven of love and appreciation, when the two people in it are stressed out from external sources, it can spill over onto the relationship and it's never a good thing. Before you know it, arguments become petty and you start to wonder why you're even in the relationship at all, despite all the love and energy you put into it.


"Even the best of relationships take steady care, attention and an investment of time," behavioral scientist and life coach Dr. Naomi Arbit tells TZR. "Love doesn't beat all, and relationships take consistent checking in, communication and compromise. Without these healthy habits in place, the relationship might be at risk. We recommend setting aside weekly time with your partner for checking in and having these kinds of talks."

But if you don't have the time for such talks, things can feel like they're falling apart and maybe it's time to part ways. However, why jump to that when you can de-escalate your relationship instead? As you would in de-escalating an argument, it's all about rolling things back and taking a breather. Not necessarily taking a break, but un-entangling your two lives so you have a bit more space to breathe. Here are six tactics to do just that.


Address the issue

When relationships are on the rocks, it needs to be addressed. In not talking about the fact that there is, indeed, a problem it is just giving that problem room to grow and become an even bigger problem. Eventually, things can reach a degree where they're beyond repair.


"Each partner must take ownership of what they do to contribute to the problem," marriage and family therapist Talia Wagner tells Bustle. "Failing to be accountable for our part and consistently blaming our partner is a sure sign that the relationship will remain unhealthy and consistently lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness."

No matter what's happening in a relationship, it took two people to create the issue (unless there was cheating, but that's a whole other thing). Because of this, when you talk about the fact that things aren't where you want them to be in your relationship, you both need to own up to what each of you did or didn't do to get to this place.

Consider living apart

If you and your partner live together, a great way to practice de-escalating is to live apart — not forever, but for a little while. This doesn't mean you're breaking up or even on a break, you're just rolling things back to that stage in your relationship before you moved in together. There's actually been a "living apart together" (LAT) movement in which couples, even married ones, choose to live apart.


"The LAT relationship model is a great idea for couples where each person wants their independent time and space while also having the advantages of being in an exclusive, long-term partnership," couples and family therapist Ann Turner, Ph.D., LICSW, CEAP, tells Good Housekeeping. "The set-up usually includes sleeping and/or spending time at each other's homes for some nights of the week but not living together full time."

Doesn't that sound wonderful? If couples can sleep in separate rooms and maintain a healthy relationship, then living apart can have the same effect.

Have separate finances

When you combine finances, things can get messy. Money always manages to create issues, because how people spend and their definition of what's a want and what's a need don't always necessarily align. According to research by AICPA, 73% of couples who live together cite finances as a source of tension in their relationship. Of that percentage, 47% say that this tension over money negatively affects the intimacy in their relationship. Of course, a lot of this tension could be avoided if couples never merged their finances, but when people move in together or get married, they seem to think that's just what you're supposed to do. However, there's nothing out there that says this is something couples must do. So why not un-entangle yourselves financially?


If you go back to separate finances, as you had at the beginning of your relationship, you immediately drop some tension from your relationship. And that's exactly what your relationship needs. Less tension means fewer arguments and resentment.

Give yourself room to grow

Falling in love is intense. It can be all-consuming, especially in the early part of the relationship where lust and attraction are at their highest. While during these two stages of falling in love, you may have put everything on the back burner to be with your partner 24/7, you also may have created a habit of doing so and now you're not really sure who you are anymore. It's as though you and your partner have morphed into the same person, and you've forgotten what you did and who were before you got together.


"It's important that couples spend time cultivating their own interests, doing things they enjoy on their own, which helps facilitate a healthy sense of self beyond the relationship," licensed psychotherapist and sex therapist Michael Moran, LCSW, CST, tells Mind Body Green. "Otherwise, they risk enmeshment, which usually leads to complacency and feeling unfulfilled."

Instead of spending the majority of your time with your partner, try spending the majority of your time by yourself or with friends doing what you want to do. Encourage your partner to do the same so you can both grow as your individual selves to keep the relationship healthy.

Put future plans on hold

When people get into a serious relationship, society tends to dictate that there are steps they're supposed to follow: move in together and/or get married, buy a house, have some kids, raise them, then eventually retire (and hope you have enough money to do so before you're 65). But that pressure can really wear on a couple, especially a couple that doesn't want to follow the conventional path.


With this in mind, put your future plans on hold. Realize you don't have to do anything and having a five-year plan isn't necessarily a fit for everyone. You and your partner don't have to reach those milestones that our culture has set for us. When you come to the understanding that not every relationship is the same and not every route for a relationship must be followed in the same manner, you can subtract pressure from the equation. It's okay to answer with "I don't know," when someone asks about your future with your partner. You don't owe anyone any answers to that question.

Feel your feelings

Most importantly when de-escalating your relationship, you want to allow yourself to feel your feelings. All of them. It can be emotional to realize that your relationship needs some work and the best way, at least for right now, might be moving backward and living more separate lives. It's okay to be upset or angry or cry your eyes out. You're entitled to feel everything you need to feel in order to process to this stage in your relationship. 


But just remember that de-escalating isn't a breakup or even a break. It's just a technique that can be used to get your relationship back on track and to that place where it once was. It's not giving up on each other, but realizing that something needs to be done to change the patterns you and your partner have fallen into and de-escalating seems like the best choice for your situation. Afterward, you're likely to find that it was exactly what you needed and now your relationship is stronger than ever.