A Key Ingredient to a Healthy Relationship: The Hello/Goodbye Ritual

In our busy world, it can be easy to feel like a ball in a pinball machine going from one thing to another. I get it, you have important things to do as a high-achieving person. But with the next thing you launch off to, whether it’s work or your son’s baseball game, it’s important to establish a Hello/Goodbye Ritual with your partner, where you create a boomerang-like interaction of leaving and returning back to each other in a positive way.

Now, I’m not saying your hellos and goodbyes need to be as lengthy as the Von Trapp kids in The Sound of Music (I apologize ahead of time if you now have “So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night” stuck in your head). But what I am asking you to do is to be intentional by establishing a short and sweet ritual around separation and reunion for a positive connection cycle.

Why You Need a Hello/Goodbye Ritual

Your relationship is made up of cycles, or loops, and you want to create and emphasize the positive connection cycle and minimize the negative cycle. One of the ways to feed into that positive connection cycle between you and your partner is to make sure when you separate and when you reunite, there is a positive send-off and reunion. In the absence of this Hello/Goodbye Ritual, the loop between you is left in disconnection and therefore in a state of limbo.

Your nervous system doesn’t not like being left in limbo, as we discussed in this previous post because It creates internal anxiety and worries around the meaning of the distance. Also as humans, we do NOT like being disconnected from others, especially our loved one, as this triggers our primal isolation worries. Meaning, if we are isolated and left behind from “the pack” and disconnected from others, then we are left alone to survive and we may die. There’s a reason why solitary confinement is one of the worst forms of prison torture because it triggers this primal fear in our nervous system when being severed from connection with others. I know this may sound dramatic but we are animals and have primal instincts to feel connected to our important others, and in this case your partner.

Now, I don’t mean to get all dramatic or to imply that when you or your partner leaves for work for the day and you don’t have a positive connection cycle in the form of a Goodbye/Hello Ritual that this equates to solitary confinement or fear of death. But that disconnection without a positive send-off and reunion touches on that primal instinct of fear on a small level that over time can build up to negative impacts on your relationship. Especially the reunion of the hello when there has been distance it gives the nervous system a sigh of relief and calms any worries to establish connection with your partner.

For instance, if your partner doesn’t kiss you when they come home the anxious mind can start to wonder things like “am I important?” or “do I matter?”. To calm those fears you can use the Hello/Goodbye Ritual to create that positive connection loop and ground yourself and your heart.

What Are the Ingredients of a Hello/Goodbye Ritual?

In a Hello/Goodbye Ritual it is best to incorporate two important ingredients: a physical element and a words element. The physical ingredient can include things like a hug, a kiss or a booty grab. The second ingredient is the use of words, such as saying “Hi sweetie, I love you” or writing a note saying “Goodbye my love, I’ll miss you!” on the mirror of your bathroom. Although it is best to have both the physical and words ingredients, having at least one will ensure you are attending to the positive connection cycle.

And as I mentioned above, you also don’t need some crazy Hello/Goodbye Ritual that is super long or fancy. It does, however, need to have an element of lingering. We want to avoid the “drive-by” hello and goodbyes where a hug is barely a second of contact or your lips don’t sink into each other. Or where your “goodbye my love!” is more like quick “bye” lost in the wind as you run out the door. Not only is it not satisfying but it doesn’t quite create that positive connection cycle that grounds the nervous system. That would be like eating a french fry and calling that good for satisfying your hunger. Your relationship is worth a lingering 5 or 10-second hug or kiss I don’t care how busy you are.

I also hear concerns around waking up at different times or going to bed at different times. If this is the case then you need to get creative. Send a text for your partner to read when they wake up or, like my husband who is up and leaving for work when I’m still sleeping, still give a kiss goodbye and say I love you. Even if you aren’t awake to hear it (which sometimes I don’t wake up to hear his goodbye) your nervous system will still feel it.

When to implement Your Ritual

I have hinted at some times you can implement the Hello/Goodbye Ritual, such as when you or your partner leave for work, and there are many times that this ritual can be used. The biggest areas to attend to are when one of you leave the house and return to the house. Think of your home as your base for your relationship boomerang. Below is a list of examples for when you want to create that boomerang-like interaction.

Leaving from work - Returning from work

Waking up - Going to bed

Leaving for a trip - Returning from a trip

Starting intimacy night - Ending intimacy night

Going to a girl’s night - Returning from a girl’s night

Getting space from an argument - Returning from that space

Talk with your partner about where in your day you both would like to implement your Hello/Goodbye Ritual and what you both want it to look like. Pick one area to start, like when either one of you goes to work, and build into other areas into the relationship. Experiment with what you want your ritual to look like and discuss how each one feels. Soon you’ll have positive boomerangs flying all over the place!

Let me know in the comments below what your Hello/Goodbye Ritual looks like!