A police officer in Ludwigshafen, Germany, an industrial city in Rhineland-Palatinate, received an unusual request in March.

It came from a distraught 34-year-old man who arrived at the police precinct one Tuesday afternoon.
Concerned about his privacy, the man refused to divulge his name to the woman on duty. Yet, without hesitation, he revealed information of an extremely intimate nature.
He no longer understood his life companion, he told the officer. He wanted to break up with her, but he was nervous about doing so, according to a police statement.

Beyond the call of duty

The desperate man asked: Could the woman help him separate from his partner? He just wanted the relationship to end!
Pledged to help the public, the officer presumably hid her surprise (and possibly her laughter) before taking a seat beside the man. Then, in a calm voice, the officer — whose own relationship status is unknown — listed several possibilities for breaking up with a long-term companion.
Finally, the helpful woman concluded that these options were all she could provide; she could not help him “close the loop.” Though she could offer him some advice: he alone needed to bring it home and end the relationship.
Only skeletal details of this unusual exchange are recorded in the police report, and so the officer’s advice remains shrouded in mystery and open to speculation.
Did she suggest the man use the sage and time-honored phrase “it’s not you, it’s me?” Did she warn of the dangers of dragging things out, telling the man to rip the Band-Aid off instead? Did she advise that he email or text the end of his commitment? Or did she recommend that the discussion take place face-to-face?
Perhaps she suggested a New Age solution such as “conscious uncoupling.”

‘A new way of being’

“Conscious uncoupling” is, essentially, a concept of gentle divorce promoted by actress Gwyneth Paltrow on her website via an article co-authored by Dr. Habib Sadeghi and Dr. Sherry Sami.
In their article, Sadeghi and Sami cite the high rate of failing marriages and suggest that divorce itself may not be the problem but a “symptom” of something deeper. “The high divorce rate might actually be a calling to learn a new way of being in relationships,” they wrote.
Noting that the all-or-nothing belief structures around marriage create rigidity in our thought process, the authors suggest that it might be “much easier” for couples to commit to each other “by thinking of their relationship in terms of daily renewal.”
“If we can recognize that our partners in our intimate relationships are our teachers, helping us evolve our internal, spiritual support structure, we can avoid the drama of divorce and experience what we call a conscious uncoupling,” Sadeghi and Sami wrote.
Rather than putting our faith in the bond of a till-death-do-us-part marriage, we might recognize each partner as a teacher and so gain the opportunity to create a stronger psychic infrastructure built of “self-love, self-acceptance, and self-forgiveness.” And if we eventually separate from our partner/teacher, we will remain “whole,” according to Sadeghi and Sami.
Meanwhile, back in Germany, the police report of the anonymous man who received relationship advice from a police officer concludes, “we will probably never know the outcome of this love story.”

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