What should we do if we want to separate on amicable terms but our partner clings to us and doesn’t want to let go?

Lama Ole’s answer:

The best is to lead the partner towards meditation. Explain to them, “everything you see in me is nothing other than your own richness. You can only find good qualities in me because you already have them within yourself. And now I am going to show you how to uncover all that richness without having to deal with these difficulties with me.” Then you give them the Three Lights Meditation and advise them to go to the local Buddhist center. This will help them become independent, and you can gradually separate without hurting them.

In cases where the partner isn’t interested in meditation, I mainly advise looking around for a suitable man or woman who might be interested in becoming a new partner. If one can do this and it works out, it is really helpful. I myself almost always searched for a successor for my former girlfriends, somebody who could make sure that everything went well and that she was happy in the end. Naturally, a teacher can do this more easily. But still, one can at least try it. It’s our responsibility to make sure that our former partners feel as good as possible.

In certain cases, it is necessary to tell the other person that they are behaving like a child—that we are losing respect for them and that it’s better to break up in order to remember them and the time spent together in a positive way. But then you have to really mean it. Afterwards, we can advise them to become independent and to learn to stand on their own feet. We might even leave open the possibility of giving the relationship a second chance afterwards.

If the partner becomes angry and loses control, it is better to leave instead of stooping to their level. The same holds in a discussion where the other person is screaming and you start screaming too—no matter what, you will lose. Here, if anything, you should talk very quietly so that the other person has to stop screaming to understand what you’re saying. Screaming is stupid in any situation.

If your partner ever turns violent, then you call the police. We’ve got an enormous social apparatus that takes care of such matters. Fifty percent of your taxes go directly into this, so you can make use of it with a clean conscience.