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How Do You Empathetically Down-Level With Your Partner?

Apr 11, 2024

“How do I de-escalate empathetically with a partner?” 

So there’s a great worksheet in my book for this.

It’s the down-leveling worksheet.

You can find all the worksheets from my book for free on my website,

I think the best thing to think about here is, think about it as not like you doing something to this person but the two of you sitting down and figuring out how to celebrate what has been and figure out what will come next.

So think about what are some of your favorite parts of the relationship so far?

What are the things you want to keep?

What are the things you want to not keep? 

Where would this person best receive that news, at their place, your place, public place like where is it going to be easiest for them to have this conversation? 

Are they going to need some time after this conversation before they can develop whatever new connection is going to be? 

How can you provide support for yourself?

How can you as much as possible help provide support for them that are not you?

Do you have information for their other partners?

And you could ask permission at the end of it to contact them to help support that person.


Don’t tell them before you break up.

It’s really shitty to tell someone’s other partners that you’re going to break up with them and then ask them to keep that secret.

I had someone do that to me fairly recently and it was not good and then she got very upset when I said like I didn’t feel comfortable keeping that secret.

Don’t do that. 

But figure out what supports might look like?

Figure out again how can you let this person know you still care about them?

How can you collaboratively together look at what a new connection might look like?

Are either or both of you going to need that space and time in order to kind of reset your feelings and expectations? 

For me, when I’m down-leveling, even if I’m the one initiating the down-leveling, I often need a few weeks to a month or two in order to reset those feelings so that I can then build this new connection without all the hang-ups and baggage from the old one. 

And just make some space for them to have big feelings.

Their initial reaction to this conversation might be less productive, less kind than they might be later on especially if this unexpected news for them.

And so, just make some space for them to do some stuff that is like hopefully not harmful to you.

That’s not okay ever.

But also, that they may not be at their best selves in this moment if they are being caught off-guard with this brand new down-leveling that they were not expecting. 

So, find some grace for them.

Find some grace for yourself.

You are never going to do it perfectly.

We can’t control how the outcome of a down-leveling conversation goes.

All we can do is try our best to make it as kind as possible and to be as present and open as we can be. 

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