No one ever really wants to come to the day when you have to break up with someone. It’s difficult, awkward, and frankly upsetting, whether you’re the person doing the breaking up or it’s the other person initiating it. However, despite our misgivings about the breakup process, it is something that we will invariably deal with at least once in our lives. If you’ve been lucky enough to be with the same person since you were a teen, then good for you but you’re a distinct minority!
When thinking about how to break up with someone and how to handle a breakup, we need to divide the process into 3 distinct stages: Pre-Breakup; The Breakup Itself; Post-Breakup
First, it’s very important that you take time to decide whether or not this path of breaking up with the other person is the right one. You should have valid reasons for not wanting to try and work things out, and don’t worry because valid reasons can absolutely include reasons that are all about you and not the other person if you want.
If you can immediately think of one or more good reasons to break up with somebody, then it’s likely the best course of action. The more reasons you think of, the more of a good decision you should reassure yourself that you’re making. Perhaps you know that the person has been cheating, or perhaps you just don’t feel happy to be with that person anymore. There are myriad potential reasons, but you have to be clear on what they are.
Before you actually go ahead with the breakup, you should think about what you want to say to the other person. Write it down if it makes it clearer in your mind. So often people fall into the trap of assuming they know what they are going to say because they can picture the scene in their minds, but by not carefully thinking about and practicing the exact words, they get tongue-tied and lost in their own breakup speech.
Of course you’ll have to take steps to ensure any notes you make don’t fall into the wrong hands, and when you’re practicing saying the words aloud, make sure no one is around to overhear. You may feel silly preparing for what you’re going to say in this way, but it’s the best way to ensure you send a clear message and don’t create any misunderstandings.
No amount of reflection or rehearsal can truly prepare you for how your partner will react, but that’s not a reason not to undertake some preparation.
The Breakup Itself
No Digital Media
The first rule of breaking up has to be that you do it face to face. There is a lot of consensus on the fact that breaking up with people via instant messaging, SMS text, or even just over the phone is inappropriate and unreasonable. A change in relationship status is an important event for everyone involved, and it’s a solemn and serious matter. It’s therefore important to show the other person enough respect and dignity to do it face to face. Consider it a final courtesy, and a part of your own personal and emotional development.
In the vast majority of cases, a breakup should happen somewhere private where the two of you can converse freely and emotions can also run free if they need to. It’s better for everyone’s dignity to break up somewhere where there’ll be no scene caused, and neither of you would have to feel embarrassed for a show of emotion.
If, however, you feel quite genuinely worried about your own safety for whatever reason, then breaking up in a more public location in the daytime is preferable. It will restrain any likelihood of a poor or violent reaction from the other person.
Breaking up is hard, but it’s important — and better for everyone — that you remain honest and speak as plainly and in as straightforward a manner as possible. So many people try to dance around the breakup conversation with euphemisms and cliches, all of which merely serve to prolong the process and make it more painful.
Don’t beat around the bush, address the main point of the conversation as early as possible: I think we should break up. Once that is out there and both of you are clear as to the purpose of the conversation, any follow-up can at least be on-point and productive. After giving your reasons, however, it’s good to wrap things up and move on quickly. Dragging things out into a longer conversation isn’t going to do anyone any good. This brings us to the final point here.
Don’t Dissect Your Relationship
You’ll have plenty of time yourself to think about the relationship after the breakup is done, but you’ve already likely been through a lot of the points in your head as you reflected before initiating the breakup conversation. This conversation you’re now having with your new ex is not the time to start combing through your relationship with a fine-tooth comb to try and see what went wrong. You will reflect, and your ex will reflect, and if in future you want to have another conversation when emotions aren’t running so high, so be it. For now, however, leave it.
Care for Yourself
You’ve just been through a difficult time and it’s important that you see to your own emotional and mental health needs. It can feel physically draining to break up with someone, and regardless of the circumstances, you’re likely to feel quite upset and low. After all, an important part of your life has just ended, and nobody likes that kind of sudden change.
Spend time with friends and family, do fun things, watch funny TV and movies, eat well, go for a drink (but don’t overindulge) and try to enjoy yourself. Do things that make you feel good, and do things entirely for yourself, at least for a while. Self-love is very important at a time like this.
Don’t Look Back
If you’re drinking wine in the evening with friends, or having a night out, it can be tempting to call or text your new ex and try to talk with them. This happens either if you initiated the breakup or (more often) when you’ve been broken up with. Just remember that this is always a bad idea. Nothing good will come from drunk texts and calls. You’ll just regret it and feel embarrassed. Look into innovative phone locking apps and services that can help you to prevent that exact type of thing.
Remind Yourself: It Was the Right Thing to Do
Finally, always keep fresh in your mind the reasons that you broke up with somebody. Remember in the pre-breakup stage when you were reflecting and writing out your reasons. None of that was arbitrary, was it? It was all carefully mapped out and thought through. These things don’t do anything to remove emotional pain, but they will help stop you from trying to backtrack or do something else regrettable after the breakup is done.
When Breaking Up, Don’t Be Hasty
If you are to take just a few take-aways from today’s blog, let it be this. When it comes to breaking up with someone:
- Think it through first
- Do it directly, and in person
- Don’t look back
These 3 points, if followed, will always see you make the right decision and stick with it. Breaking up is tragic, but more often than not it happens for the right reasons.