There’s no easy way to break up with someone, but sometimes a breakup is still absolutely necessary. In those situations where a relationship has simply run its course, where the other person has changed or you have, where you are wanting different things out of life, where you both have drifted apart, or where something just doesn’t quite work the way you feel it should—it might be time to move on.
But ending a relationship, whether one that lasted months or years, can be extremely difficult to do. When you’re in a relationship, often you get closer to that person than you do even your closest friends. You care for them, and bringing that experience to an end isn’t always an amicable process. That said, sometimes it is necessary; and when it is, we have just a few things to keep in mind:
Before the Breakup
The time where you feel like a breakup might be on the horizon is the point where you really want to analyze why these feelings are coming up. Is this something you can work through? Or is it finally time?
Make Sure a Breakup is the Right Solution for You
Be honest with yourself about why you think breaking up is the right way to move forward. Is this relationship not serving you anymore? Are you not happy anymore? Is this person different than you thought they were, or are they suddenly treating you differently?
There’s any number of reasons to break up with someone, but it’s important to be sure these reasons are things you’re unable to work through with the other person—or maybe that you just don’t want to. Remember that no one can force you to be in a relationship, and it’s okay to breakup with someone if it’s right for you to do so.
Get Introspective on the Difficult Conversation Ahead
Once you’ve decided that breaking up is the right step for you, it’s important to brace yourself for the conversation ahead. As it goes, a breakup might feel like the right decision for you, but it also might catch the other person off-guard. Sometimes the drifting away is mutual, but sometimes it isn’t.
That’s why, before the breakup, it’s important to go over in your head exactly what you want to say. If what you want to say is brief, be brief. If these are arguments you’ve had repeatedly, don’t start them up again if you don’t want to. Go over the possibilities in your head and reasoning behind the breakup to reaffirm yourself of the decision.
Acknowledge Ahead of Time that You Can’t Predict Their Reaction
As much as you feel you might know the person you’re breaking up with, you still can’t predict how they might react to the news. When placed in a stressful situation, and a break-up can be anxiety inducing, it’s hard to gauge how someone might react.
They might get quiet. They might argue. They might agree. Or they might even get angry, and loud.
That said, just know that whatever their reaction, be confident in the decision you have made. If you’re ready to cut ties, that’s okay. If you just need a break to be alone for a while, that’s okay too. But be sure the decision is yours and isn’t coerced by the other person.
After the moment of introspective contemplation before the break-up, it’s time to go through with it.
Try Your Best to Do the Breakup Face to Face
It’s hard to encompass all the varied reasons for a breakup but, disregarding something extreme where you don’t want to be in the same vicinity as someone else, it’s important to try your best to show the courtesy of a face-to-face conversation. And all this really means: please don’t breakup over a text, an email, or a Facetime call if you can help it.
Pick Your Location
Something often overlooked about a break-up is where it happens. If you’re able to, try to choose a location where the conversation can happen uninterrupted. It’s a difficult conversation to have, and you don’t want your partner, or yourself, to feel the need to temper feelings on the situation in order to avoid some sort of public ‘scene.’
To try to keep the conversation honest, limit the loud distractions of somewhere extremely public like a restaurant and opt for somewhere private where you can converse openly.
However, if your safety is in question, that takes precedence before anything else. If you feel more comfortable breaking up somewhere public, then that’s what you should do.
Skip the Clichés, Be as Straightforward as Possible
When it comes to actual words you need to say, be as direct as you possibly can. While only you will know the reasons for your break-up, don’t lean on clichés like, ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’
You may know why you want to break-up, but if you hide your reasoning then the other person has no chance of understanding.
Separate Your Partner from the Relationship
While you might feel tempted to delve into all the details of the shortcomings of your partner, or where you felt they, as a person, weren’t right for you—try your best to be kind, have empathy, and stay focused.
When a relationship doesn’t work, it’s not always because of the other person, or yourself—but rather, because of the failed entity of the actual relationship you created together.
It’s completely possible for both of you to be wonderful people, and to hold love for each other, but the relationship you’ve built together still isn’t making either your lives better or enriching them. In fact, the relationship might be a root cause of your unhappiness. While the distinction can feel slight sometimes, the failings of the relationship are the focus, not the other person.
Don’t Fall Back on False Promises
And finally, when ending the conversation of the break-up, it’s important to not let empathy or some other instinct to not-have-someone-out-in-the-world-mad-at-you, influence your final words.
If you feel this relationship is done—let it be done.
Don’t say things like, ‘this just isn’t working right now.’ ‘Maybe in a few years.’ If you don’t honestly think there’s a chance to rekindle the relationship in the future, don’t give the person false hope. Let them deal with the same truth you are, so they can move on, and so you can too.
After the Breakup
Whether the breakup was amicable or not, it was likely still a difficult conversation to have, and the aftermath can be mentally, and even physically, draining.
Remind Yourself That It’s Okay
First things first, remind yourself that breaking up with that person was the right decision for you. It might hurt to be in this place but staying with them longer wasn’t going to change the end-result—only delay it. During this time, call your friends, hang out with loved ones—be kind to yourself, treat yourself.
Try not to be alone with your thoughts unless that’s something you feel you need to do.
Take Care of Yourself
Most importantly, during this time, take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself mentally—don’t add any more stresses if you can help it. A breakup can be a huge mental toll, try not to downplay it because you think you should.
If you feel able, try to enjoy some fun or relaxing activities. Go on long walks, run, exercise, read, shop, eat some delicious food, or watch some fluffy movies. Do whatever makes you feel better and know that you deserve to feel better.
Move On at Your Own Pace
There’s no standardized measure for how long someone needs to get over a relationship. It could be days, weeks, months, or years. Sometimes breaking up can feel like a weight lifted, and other times it can feel like an anvil weighing you down.
Whatever you feel, remind yourself that it’s okay to feel it.
Move on at your own pace, in whatever form moving on takes for you. If it means being single for a while, that’s okay. If it means you want to get back out there and date again, that’s okay too. When you’re ready you might want to create a profile on a dating site.
Whatever timeline feels right for you, is right for you.
Breaking up with someone is never an easy thing to do. Whether the anxiety before it happens, the difficulty of the conversation, or the aftermath—there’s often more to breaking up than just ending the relationship with someone.
The important thing to remember is that you are honest with yourself during the entire process. Why do you feel you need to break up? When should I do it? How should I? How do I feel now that I have?
Be sure to check in with yourself as often as you can and remind yourself that the feelings you have are valid. Work through your emotions and be kind to yourself. It’s okay to want to break up with someone, and it’s equally okay to be sad or relieved after you do. Breaking up isn’t easy, but sometimes it’s necessary for you and your well-being.