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What Relationship Deescalations Are and How They’re Different Than Breakups

·374 words·2 mins

What’s deescalation? It sounds like you basically pulling back and becoming more distant from your partner. Is it basically a slow breakup as opposed to a quicker breakup?


When we’re talking about relationships, deescalation can mean a variety of things. But essentially, deescalating a relationship means that you’re moving to become less entangled.

What this means exactly depends on the nature of the relationship that’s being deescalated.

Here are some examples:

  • Going from living together to living separately
  • Starting with combined finances and then deciding to manage your money separately
  • For those who are hierarchical, adjusting those designations (for example, going from being primaries to secondaries)
  • Seeing one another less frequently (for example, going from seeing each other multiple times a week to doing so one time a week or one time a month, etc.)
  • Limiting sexual contact (going from engaging in all kinds of sexual activities to engaging in some, etc)

The Difference Between a Deescalation and a Breakup

When you deescalate a relationship, you don’t want the relationship to end per se — but you might want it to be less “serious” or “entangled” in some fashion.

Whereas in a breakup, you want to not have a romantic relationship anymore period.

To some people, this might seem like a small difference, but honestly deescalations don’t _have _to move towards breakups. I’ve seen ones where people have stayed together in a less entangled capacity indefinitely. Not breaking up. Just being different than before.

It does help when the desire for the deescalation is mutual and the people involved communicate well about it.

Deescalations Aren’t Always a Path to Breakup; Sometimes They Save Relationships

So, no, while there are likely some people who do implement deescalations as a method of breaking up slowly, deescalations themselves aren’t automatically a slow move towards breakups.

Sometimes they’re the way you save a relationship and prevent it from breaking up, rather than forcing your relationship to be more serious than your mutual compatibility allows.


See also: The Relationship Escalator: Questioning How Love Ought to Be


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