Something has shifted. He was your ally, collaborator and confidante, but now, not so much. You let him get in too close, and you want to pull back, reclaiming your autonomy. You’re done asking “what should we do?” Now you’re asking, “what should I do?” and especially “what should I do about telling him?”
He sees you pulling back and doesn't approve.. He takes your growing distrust as evidence that your judgment is off. "You don't trust me, but trust me, you should trust me," he seems to say. He used to be so persuasive but now his attempts to convince you backfire. The more he tries to get you to trust him the less you do.
It can happen in all sorts of relationships, with a wife or husband, lover, parent, child, colleague, friend, neighbor, teacher, therapist, spiritual guide. You used to want the closeness; now you want not to terminate contact but just create some distance.
It would be easier if you could extricate yourself entirely, painful at first, like bikini waxing, but ultimately cleaner. But you can’t, shouldn’t or don’t really want to extricate yourself entirely. You’re not burning a bridge but narrowing it. You just want your autonomy back, and you can’t figure out whether to tell him or not, and if so, what to tell him.
Because of course he’s going to want to turn it into a big discussion, as if you’re still deciding things together like you used to. “Let me help you with your decision about whether I should help you with decisions,” he’ll imply, trying to draw you right back in. You don’t want that conversation.
So maybe it’s best to say nothing and just behave differently.
But if you do that, he’ll hound you with the questions that were fair game back when you were collaborators. And you’ll be forced to answer them. Then he’ll be all over you with added challenges about why you didn’t tell him. “Why didn’t you consult me about deciding not to consult me?!” And he’s right. With all you’ve been through together it would be cold. You’re not trying to punish him, just to recover your autonomy.
So maybe it’s best to declare your shift to autonomy but not explain why you’re shifting.
Of course, he’ll demand an explanation. He’ll say “No really, I would benefit from your feedback.” And then what? You can’t just sit there icy silent. Announcing that you’re re-establishing independence without giving reasons is just too awkward. It would make any further contact unsustainable.
So maybe you’ll just have to explain why you’re pulling back but let it turn into an open discussion.
Again, very awkward. He’s bound to respond to your explanation.
OK so maybe that’s it. Explain why you’re pulling back, hear his reaction, but say nothing in response. And then what? He’ll just keep hounding you, the opposite of what you want. You want less involvement, but you’ll end up with more.
According to reliable statistics I’ve just made up, the inherent awkwardness of pulling back from intimate collaboration accounts for 87% of all collaborations endured past their expiration date, and a full 83% of all awkward silences.
There is no clean easy way to transition to greater distance. Here, nonetheless are twelve tips worth keeping in mind.