In this video, Teal Swan describes how to stay friends with someone after a breakup:
Ironically, this video gave me a realization that helped me align to marriage.
In the video, Teal suggests taking the other person as a part of yourself and making their needs a part of the process.
For example, if you break up with someone, are still friends with them, and want to go on a date with someone new, you might share that desire with your former partner and see what they need to feel okay with you doing that.
This approach treats going from relationship to friendship not as a “breakup” but as a transition. You are still in connection with the other person, but now you just have different roles and are fulfilling different needs.
Watching this, I realized this approach to transitions applied not just to transitioning to less romantic relationships, but to transitioning to more romantic relationships.
The transition from relationship to friendship is not as big a transition as relationship to marriage or even married to married with kids. (In fact, married to married with kids might be the biggest transition of all.)
What makes the transition safe is making all needs of each person a part of it, and moving at a pace that feels safe.
The way I explained it to my now fiance is that I wanted the same safety and care in our transition to marriage or having kids as she would want me to have if we were breaking up and trying to stay friends. (She got it, which is part of the reason I picked her.)
My own fear was that in transitioning one of my needs would get dropped in the process. However, if all of our needs are made a part of change, we are both comfortable transitioning to whatever relationship serves us together.
All relationships transition. Even relationships where the title does not change like parent and child will be different when the child is an infant vs. when the child leaves for school or work.
I recommend watching this video and using this technique even if you are not planning on breaking up or getting married.
This approach is useful regardless of your relationship status (even single to friends with benefits is a transition) and could also be applied to business relationships (a promotion, hiring, firing, or starting a business with someone are all transitions).
P.S. You can watch my proposal here.