Ending a relationship is a hard thing to do. Some people try and avoid it so much that they continue on a relationship even though it brings them no happiness. No one likes hurting another person’s feelings. So how is the best way to break up with someone?
How do you know if you should break up at all?
Sometimes people end relationships prematurely because they don’t know how to improve the relationship. That is where a counselor can help. Getting couples counseling allows both parties to bring things out into the open. Discussing issues with a third party present makes it easier. A counselor can make sure that both parties get an equal amount of time to express things that can be hard to talk about. You can also learn communication skills that can sometimes help you to continue the relationship.
They can find out the real causes for betrayals of trust such as infidelity. It doesn’t always mean that your partner no longer loves you.
But after you have tried couples counseling for a number of months and you find that nothing really improves, then it may be time to end the relationship.
What are the best steps to take during a breakup?
The steps to take depend somewhat on the type of relationship. For example, if your partner has been physically abusive to you, you need to be very careful about how you end the relationship, especially if you have been living with them. There are sometimes community support groups such as the Domestic Violence Hotline that can provide advice, assistance and/or emergency housing. You may also like to contact the local police station to ask for them to provide some moderation or perhaps even a restraining order.
But if it has been a normal relationship, generally honesty is the best approach. Give them the respect of talking to them face to face unless that is impossible for some reason. If you can’t, try and have an online video conversation with them or if that isn’t possible, a phone conversation. Don’t just send them a letter or text or message.
What should you say?
Start by saying something positive about them. As calmly as possible, discuss with them the issues you think are insurmountable and explain why you think you should break up. Don’t blame them or be accusatory. Let them talk. Ask them if they really feel you should continue as a couple. Tell them how sorry you are to be hurting them in this way, but that you think it will be better for both of you in the long term. But don’t make any false promises for the future. Be honest, direct and clear, but as kind as possible.
Often they will feel hurt. They may cry and express how much they feel their trust in you has been betrayed. This may then turn to feelings of anger. They may swear at you. Let them vent. Ask them if they want to be alone to process it. It may be best to go and stay at another place even if it is just for a night initially. Take with you important documents such as your birth certificate, passport and so on.
What should you do next?
In a few days time, when they have had some time to process the breakup, you may ask them if it is now OK for you to come back and remove your belongings. It is best to do this with the support of a friend or family member or two.
Legally if you are not married to them, depending on the regulations of the state or country you reside in, it can mean that you don’t have many rights. If they decide to change the locks, you can still ask the police to help intervene so that you can get your items out of the house or apartment. It is risky as they may feel revengeful and try to destroy your possessions. You can show the police your drivers license with that address on it as a way of proving that you have a right to enter the property.
As soon as possible, sort out any financial obligations. For example, are you on their phone plan? Be fair when sorting out any money matters.
If there are other people involved such as children and your family, be honest with them too. They may try to talk you out of it. Be respectful as the breakup will affect them too so let them have their say.
Can you still stay friends?
Sometimes when we break up with someone it isn’t because we no longer love them. Sometimes love just isn’t enough. We may have other goals and plans and desires for our lives that our current partner just can’t support for various practical reasons. For example, we may want to live in a different country and they can’t move because they have a good business which they have established here.
Although of course, we all want to stay friends, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. You have to realize that as you are ending the relationship, there is no guarantee you will remain friends. They may decide to cut all ties because they feel hurt. Or they may move on, end up in a relationship with someone else and that person may not feel comfortable about them continuing to be in touch with their ex partner.
Recovering from the breakup
Similar to how people feel after a divorce, it can take time to heal from a breakup. Counseling can help. Allow yourself time to restore your emotional balance. Don’t rush into a new relationship (unless that is why you are breaking up in the first place).
If you still aren’t clear about how to break up with someone, you can always chat with a counselor about it and make a plan together.