Deciding to break up? How do you do it with someone you love without hurting them?
Breaking up with someone is hard. If they still love you, then it’s even harder. It’s among the hardest things one has to do as an adult unless you are a shitty person. However, love is not binding and you do not have to stay with someone, especially if you do not feel the same way about them. The whole breaking up thing is extremely difficult and no matter how you do it, someone is bound to get hurt.
Deciding that you no longer want to be with someone is ok but it’s always good to separate in a way that will cause the least harm. No matter how you do it however, they will get hurt and it doesn’t in any way mean you are bad. There are ways though that you can minimize their pain while treating them with respect and dignity.
According to Dr. Randi Gunther, almost “everyone who has loved another deeply does not want to leave hurtful memories behind or deal with someone who harbors anger and resentment towards them. They didn’t start this current love relationship with the intent of abandoning ship if the going got rough. Nor did they ever expect that they would someday no longer care for the person they sincerely chose. Now they are faced with going back on promises and leaving their partners bereft and wounded.”
Coach Natalie, a relationship expert says that we should think not only about how this break up will hurt us but also how it’s going to hurt the other person. Spend at least 24 hours before you can initiate the breakup.
Before you can fully commit to your decision to separate, there are several questions you should ask yourself. These will not make the breakup any less painful for both of you but will ease the process. Tears and terrible silences will be there but you can both survive.
Dr. Randi Gunther, suggests that before you break up with someone, look at yourself first “Is this a pattern for you in your past relationships? Do you over-commit and then find yourself in deeper than you intended? Do you try doing everything you can to make your partner feel more important than he or she is, just to keep that person close? Do you withhold asking for the changes you need in a relationship and then resent the other for not knowing what they are? Do you put partners on pedestals by ignoring things about them that you will eventually be unable to bear? Do you over-accommodate and then resent your sacrifices? Are you careful enough to be discerning up-front by knowing what you need and what you can offer?”
You will want to be accountable and open before you can fully commit to a breakup.
Seems obvious, right? Am sure you already have a rehearsed response that you’ve been giving to friends and family. The real problem, however, will be validated if you write down the reasons you want a break-up. Write the pros and cons of going ahead with the break-up. This will be especially helpful if you have been going back and forth about the break-up. If you are not sure whether to break up with them or continue staying with them. You may get an epiphany from seeing the reasons written down. You can then confide in someone you trust so that they can offer some advice and help you get confident with your decision.
Relationships are not perfect and sometimes identifying problems can help in solving them. What is making you want to leave them? Can you solve it through counseling or change of behavior? Can the issue get solved through communication and some effort from both sides?.
Will you regret the decision? Make sure that you are sure about the decision to break up. Do not do it yet if you are still second-guessing yourself.
Imagine your day without your soon to be ex. It’s heartbreaking, right? Will you be able to live without them? You were used to having them listen to your musings and rants. Losing a best friend will be hard but if you are sure about the break-up, then you will heal. It may take some time but you will be single again and have lots of freedom. This extra time will be used to make yourself happy and pay more attention to you. Alone time is good for the soul too.
It’s not easy. I mean, telling someone you love that it’s no longer working between you two will be hard. They love you still and in their world, you are still the one. You will get the drunken texts once in a while, the 20 voicemails, the ‘I love you texts’ and the ‘why are you doing this to us?’ emails. You can, however, prevent this from happening by breaking up with them in the right way.
Do not be a shitty person and do it over text, or on their Facebook wall. Like seriously, were you raised in a barn? Even doing it over the phone is just wrong. If you are having a hard time breaking up with this person, then it means you have known them for a while. They still love you and so you mean the world to them. Award them the courtesy of breaking up with them face to face.
Choose a private place so that the two of you can have time and space to talk about things and cry if need be. The situation will be uncomfortable especially If this person has no idea you want to part ways with them. No one said it would be easy so suck it up. Your partner is about to experience heartbreak and they need to know you respect them.
You have got to grow up and man up. This means that even though confrontations are scary and no one likes them, in this situation, you have to do it.
Don’t sugarcoat the situation so as not to hurt them. Again, don’t bullshit them. Tell the story as it is while causing the least hurt. You don’t necessarily have to go into all the gory details (brutal honesty is not necessary), but make it clear that you are no longer interested and that it’s over.
Don’t be tempted to lie to save them from the pain. This only gives them false hopes and could make it worse. Give them closure because it’s going to hurt yes, but it will hurt even more if they realize later on that you lied and they’ve been holding out a torch for nothing.
Gurpreet Singh, a relationship therapist says that you should give your reasons clearly and understand theirs. “Don’t leave them confused. You might be tempted to be nice and say ‘let’s just take a break for now’, but if you know this is the end then it’s kinder to say that rather than drag things out. Don’t string someone along by giving them unintentional false hope.”
Avoid monologues. Have clear concise answers as to why you want to break up with them. How do you want to look back at this situation? The final moment of your relationship should not amount to anger, frustration, resentment, sadness, and guilt. “Do not flip-flop with your decision,” Natalie says. “a lot of people we break up with our partners hoping that they chose us because we want the validation. That’s not fair, it drives your partner crazy and then they may give you the respect you asked for and they honor the breakup. But then you try to reel then back a little bit. That’s not fair, it’s selfish.
Make sure they know that there is no chance the two of you will ever get back together. You may be having an easy time with the break up because you fell out of love already but they will suffer a lot. You are their world and you are just about to shatter it to pieces. Their world is about to change. How they love, how they trust is going to change from now on. This is why you need to be clear that you are never getting back together. It’s over!
This is a situation no one wants to be in, but think about the other person and do what’s best for both of you. Be direct and clear while at the same time being kind. Don’t shout it across the room to embarrass them. Karma is a bitch and chances are that few months or years down the line, you will be in the same position they are in right now. Be compassionate.
Do not also provide them with situations that may make them think there is still a chance to make up. You hold the power to the relationship when you part ways with someone and anything you do may be interpreted wrongly. They will cling on to any hope and so avoid saying you want to break up ‘right now’. No. make it clear, ‘I am breaking up with you’. Period! Don’t stay on as their option or say right now to soften the pain. It won’t help.
If your ex still loves you, chances are that they will want to remain friends after the breakup. Bad idea. Very bad idea. There are situations where this happens but your situation is not one of them. The only cure for your ex will be to move on from you. This means that they cannot see you until they have moved on from the situation. Maybe then, you two can be friends. The more space you give them the better.
This is because they will not be willing to let go especially if they still love you. Every time you meet up, they will be trying to get back together with you. They will be holding on to the hope that maybe when you see them, you will realize how much you miss them or how much they have changed and want them back. So, it’s better if you cut all ties for the time being until they have completely healed from the situation. Be prepared though because this may take some time.
“Some [partners] are on the same page with the person who’s done the breaking-up and are happy to move on, whereas others struggle for years with a sense of loss. Whether you remain in contact with each other will depend on how each of you evolves after the break-up and where you are in your journey. An expectation that you will remain friends might not be realistic but don’t feel that you need to cut all contact forever. A post-breakup relationship of sorts can emerge as long as you both agree to it.” Gurpreet says.
Do not continue talking to them and stick to it. Do not initiate conversations and if they initiate it, firmly but kindly tell them you both need space. This means that since you broke up with them, you have to give friend circles that you shared with them a wide berth. Do not attend social events they will be in. If you know your ex is going to be in an event, avoid it and be the one who stays at home. You broke up with them and that’s enough heartbreak without having to see you all the time.
In reality, they will be suffering more from the break-up and you need to give them time to move on. This means that you cannot also show up to events you know they will be in, while in the hands of another man. It’s disrespectful and just inhumane. It’s a dick move! Overlapping relationships also makes it difficult. Make sure that if that’s the reason you are leaving them, you tell them so too.
It usually is the hottest sex ever but doesn’t indulge yourself in it. The moment you leave that door, they will hurt even more. Break up sex may make them never get closure and the break-up wound will deepen. For the sake of love, you both shared once, respect them enough to not have sex with them. You will be taking advantage of their feelings and sending them mixed messages. Trust me, the momentary pleasure you both get from a break-up sex does not help heal the pain, it worsens it.
After you have laid out your reasons for wanting to leave, be prepared to listen to their responses. Do not get defensive or start counter-attacks. Breaking up with them will make them angry, wounded, embarrassed, and confused. They may say hurtful things which will make you feel worse about yourself, or plead for forgiveness. They will want to find out whether you’ve already found someone else better than them. Listen to them as long as they rant. Be compassionate and respect yourself enough not to retort back. It’s going to be hard but remember your goal here is to make it as easy for them as possible.
If they turn violent however or try to hurt you back, then you can leave. They will also definitely tell you out to friends and family or threaten to hurt themselves. These are responses expected after a rejection or loss.
The most important thing is to try and remain calm and supportive. Do not give in to their rantings and change your position, do not make any promises while trying to make things easier and do not string them along if you are certain about leaving.
After the breakup, your partner will be distressed. Ask if there’s something you can do to help them. For example, they may want to leave immediately, or they may want you to leave. Do it without hesitation. People deal with pain and trauma differently.
Due to the many memories, you two have shared, your partner will at the time of the breakup be experiencing pain, confusion, anger, and grief. He may beg or plead with you. He may also repeat the same question over and over. Explain and answer his questions clearly without resorting to rudeness. You just shattered their life, the least you can do is be kind. However, make sure they know that your decision is final and you will not get back together.
The most important thing is that you learn from this experience. Find out what would have been different so that when you get into another relationship, you are fully authentic and know what you want in a relationship. Do not also make it a competition of who was wrong and who was right. Have no negative judgments so that you know what to do next time.
Relationships need communication and before you made that decision to break up with your partner, am sure you thought about the idea so many times. Make sure that next time you are in a relationship, you confront situations as they happen. This situation should arm you so that in the future, you are more successful in love. You will then have a deeper knowledge and a commitment to yourself to be authentic and courageous.