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Initiator versus non initiator

Leaving the family home is much harder if it is initiated by your partner.  Interestingly some research conducted in 2003 showed that only 32% of all divorces were initiated  by men.  It makes sense that your partner is probably coping better than you.  This is not to say she is having a better time.  Research shows that before separation the initiator’s stress levels were higher than those of  the non initiator and after separation they reduced and the non initiators increased.

It’s an emotional roller coaster for both parties.  Once the separation is initiated it can spark different emotions such as feeling of guilt, actions can be misread and feelings of anger due to rejection.  The non initiator can feel hopeful and could suggest reuniting and even continue to act as if they are still in a working relationship. Then the feelings can turn to rejection and possible shame.

To avoid mixed messages, Relationships Australia and Mensline Australia recommend that you are clear on exactly where your relationship is at so that you don’t get caught up in confusion.  They suggest that you:

  • Restrict contact with your former partner to one call a week, fortnight or month
  •  Restrict socialising or going out together
  • Limit doing things for them
  •  Do not engage in sexual activity with them
  • Avoid confrontation

Remind yourself that there is no evidence that your former partner wants to get back with you unless they specifically say so.

This is not to say that separated people can’t get back together.  However, it can take time and usually follows a long period of non-contact.  The emotional bonds created by the original relationship takes a long time to disentangle.


Remember if it’s over it’s over. Hanging on to false hope only prolongs the pain and distress.


Thank you to Relationships Australia and Mensline for their insights.


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