Falling out of love is stressful. The reality of ending relationships is that there will be emotional distress of some sort. Fortunately, there are steps that can make the process easier that may eliminate at least some of the pain.
Do I Really, Really… Really Want This Relationship to End?
The crucial first step in parting is answering one critical question, “Do I want to end this?” Although obvious, breaking up successfully involves knowing if this is what you want or not. If you are even remotely uncertain now, you may be looking at a very uncertain future.
Basing a decision to leave because of a momentary emotional response can also lead to uncertainty. What is said in anger, frustration or a disagreement can escalate to a premature ending. For those prone to manipulation, threats of departure become a tactic for salvaging a faltering connection. Using the threat of breaking up with someone you live with, or not, is counterproductive.
Weighing whether to stay or not is a step that allows time to reflect on the relationship. Perhaps the causes for going are gone. Maybe things are not as bad as they have been. On the other side, things could be getting worse. When there are more and more relationship red flags and no solutions, that could indicate trouble to come.
Putting together a pros and cons list gives you perspective. Methodically list the good, the bad and the indifferent about your relationship. If the cons are overwhelming and your partner is making things worse, an exit strategy may be in order.
One important point, if the relationship is abusive, verbally, physically, or psychologically, there is no sliding scale of what is acceptable. In those extreme cases, getting away must be a priority.
Breaking Up – What Do You Say?
Having decided to go, the next step is figuring out what to say. It may even be about what not to say. How to end a relationship smoothly rests on the language used. Emotions can run high during these exchanges. If one person wants to stay, and the other not so much, the entire final conversation can escalate into a shouting match. When things reach this climax, no one is listening.
Breakup Advice – Make a List
Rather than deciding to improvise, it could be preferable to write down the points that you wish to address ahead of time. There could be some extremely specific concerns that caused a long-term relationship breakup that need addressing. Even a short-term one brings significant points. These issues can be educational for both sides, perhaps therapeutic. Waiting until that day arrives is already too late. Planning ahead for what you want to say can help guide the conversation.
While you compose your thoughts, you may want to consider to what level of specificity you wish to engage. Relationship pundits agree that during a breakup no one benefits from an extensive listing of every single slight, embarrassment, and misstep.
If the list is too long that can invite an extended debate about who said what when and how. In most cases, it is best to keep it concise. Point out the big concerns and avoid petty grievances.
Breakup Advice – Focus on the Present
Keeping things in the present is also an excellent idea. While it may be easy to go to the distant past, you want to stay in the here and now. Going back to when you met may not be beneficial. Try to point out what is happening in the present. Only if the past is relevant, should it be introduced.
You may also want to be mindful of using “I” statements as opposed to “you” statements. Rather than saying, “You always do, such and such,” you could opt to say, “When you did such and such, I felt…” This can avoid looking like you're being punitive. It also creates a sense of ownership of your feelings. It can be empowering. The best way to break up with someone is to come from a place of strength.
No one can fully prepare for trauma and breaking up is no exception. You may not be able to be totally prepared. But it never hurts to take stock of what you may experience ahead of time. It is possible a companion may take the breakup well. It is just as possible that they will become hurt, angry, sad, or even given to exuberant displays of histrionics that turn heads. That is why it is a good idea to at least be prepared for whatever actions may take place, even if they are remote. It’s a good idea to seek advice and outside sources to create that support system you may need should the unexpected arrive.
Where Should You Go to Break Up with Someone?
How to break up with someone nicely depends on how you go about doing it. After figuring out what you are going to say, you have to figure out where you are going to perform the actual breakup formally. This is one of the trickier parts of this process. It is all dependent on your situation, the status of your ex, and where you feel most comfortable. Also factoring into this are consideration and compassion. A breakup can be a surprise to a partner. Empathy can at least smooth some of the raw edges that can emerge.
Breakup Advice – The Breakup Text
Ah yes, let us start with the infamous “breakup text.” This is generally considered the height of impersonal breakups. In most scenarios, the breakup text deserves its place in the worst move possible category. As with most rules, there are exceptions.
Say for example you are in a relationship with a person known to be overly emotional, clingy, and willing to go to extremes to avoid abandonment. This is a candidate for the breakup text, post-it note, phone call, or social media chat, pick your service. In those situations where leaving is a priority, and a safety matter, explaining your departure is not possible. There are cases where people have to leave relationships and make their new living status secretive due to their well-being, even sanity.
If meeting in person is something to be done, there are places that make sense. There are also places that will make breaking up difficult. Where you break up is as important as what is said.
Breakup Advice – Where NOT to Do It
The first places that should be left off any list are places you frequent. Do not pick a place to break up where you go often. That could be an invitation for an ex to seek you out. That you do not want. Be selective about where you go, and make sure it is a place you have no intention of returning to. Obvious places not to go include bars, discos, anyplace with a live band, rock concerts, music festivals, and the like where it is going to be loud, and you will have to shout just to hear each other. Basically, any place not conducive to a detailed private conversation should be on the “do not break up here” list.
In so many movies, you see characters going to dinner, or someplace truly special only to be told that the relationship they loved lives no more. It is really a bad idea to invite someone to a lavish dinner, have a wonderful time, and then as the check comes, drop the bad news. That will make certain someone may put on a scene worthy of Oscar consideration. Avoid turning any breakup meeting into a vacation, dinner, or something “special.” Consider a breakup a business matter. Take it seriously, or someone else might not.
Breakup Advice – Leave a Positive Final Impression
While breaking up, you want to be empathetic, even compassionate. At this late stage, why make an exit that leaves an awful impression? How to break up and the manner in which you do it can speak volumes about you. At least let that last impression be positive. That does not mean bending over backward to make the process more agreeable. It is not a wise idea to suggest, one more “tryst” for the road or be demonstrative physically. The task at hand is to end things, not drag them out.
Reaching the finishing line amounts to everyone having their say. It also means everyone understands that the relationship is over. This is where the finality of the situation has to be stated. It has to be made clear that there is no going back. There is no hope of a reconciliation. There are no second, third, or fourth chances. Consider a breakup as the ultimate ending of your association with another person. It has to be treated as such if that is what you want. Any type of prevarication from the fact that the relationship is over can be taken as hope that things will change.
For those not familiar with the numerous relationship configurations, it is hard to imagine that there are those who after a breakup of final proportions hold on to the hope that somehow things will be different. Years can pass and some people desperately cling to the hope that their past love will return.
It is not cruel to dash such hopes. The cruelty is doing anything that encourages the other person that down the road a reconciliation is possible. When the reality is that this is the end, you have to make it clear that it is the end.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
That is not a cliché. It is a fact. Even if things go well during the final conversation, there can be lingering hurt, memories, and sadly considerable pain. This is true for the person who wants to leave as well as the person being left. Not all love is intended to be permanent.
When you know what you want, have a solid plan of what to do, and your intentions are well-meaning, that can remove a great deal of unnecessary discomfort. It can also pave the way for happier days ahead. With just a little planning, prep, and support, breaking up does not have to be the end of love. It can actually be the beginning of a new chapter.