How to Break Up Well: Part 1

Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Healthy Separation and/or Divorce Counseling | Comments Off on How to Break Up Well: Part 1

Effectively Ending a Relationship

Back in the 60’s, there was a Neil Sedaka song titled “Breakin’ up Is Hard to do.” For most of us, there is a lot of truth in those lyrics. Ending a relationship is hard to do and, generally, we tend to do it badly. At best, breaking up is an uncomfortable process.

To do it more effectively, consider the following advice:

End a relationship face to face whenever possible.

Because breaking up is difficult, many people opt for a more passive approach. They may stop initiating communication or attempt to fade out of the relationship, hoping the other person gets the message. Some choose to send a breakup text or email, rather than face their partner.

People will say the passive approach is meant to spare the other person’s feelings, but their own fears and discomfort are usually at play. Telling someone face to face that you no longer wish to pursue a relationship ultimately allows the other person the opportunity to hear you out, participate in a respectful exchange, and say goodbye.

It should be noted that there are exceptions to a face-to-face breakup:

  • A long distance relationship. Breaking up in person may not be possible. A phone conversation may be the best way to end things.
  • Compromised safety. Forgo a face-to-face breakup if your partner’s response could put you in any danger.

Be prepared.

It is important to give some thought as to why you want to end the relationship. Clearly present your reasons to your partner. He or she deserves some explanation. Be as truthful as you can be. Don’t resort to excuses, criticism, or condescension.

Choose a private time and place.

Often people break up in public places to reduce the chances that he or she will react poorly. If you have specific reasons for meeting publicly, weigh them carefully. For the most part, it’s usually better to break up in private.

Be kind.

It is important to say some good things about your relationship and your partner. After all, you did like this person well enough, at one point, to enter into a relationship. Be thoughtful. It’s a good idea to have some balance in the conversation. Share some things that may be difficult for your partner to hear, as well as some things you value about the relationship.

Avoid an argument.

Breaking up is always easier if the decision to part is mutual. However, this is not always the case. Say what you need to say, even if you partner disagrees. Then, offer an apology for having hurt or distressed the other person. Stand firm, be clear that your decision is final, and remove yourself from the situation as soon as you conclude any necessary relationship or household business.

You may be tempted to stay together simply because your partner wants to try to “make it work.” Don’t give in if you are not committed to being in the relationship. It won’t last. In fact, you’ll probably end up doing more emotional damage in the end. It’s best to be honest and end things cleanly.

A lot of times, initiating a breakup is frightening. You don’t want to hurt your partner. You don’t want to be the “bad guy.” You don’t like knowing that you are responsible for inflicting pain on anyone.

Those fears are valid. But take heart: A lot of times, the anticipation of a breakup is worse than the reality. If you truly want out of the relationship, it is better–and kinder–to end it, than to stay.







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