Let’s face it, be it a boyfriend, girlfriend, friend, or just some dude you went out with a few times, ending a relationship… sucks (Do I get points for not saying “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do?”). Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to do it without someone feeling lousy on the other side because nobody likes being rejected, regardless of the reasons why.
If you dread spending time with him. The idea of having sex makes you cringe. You fight yet don’t find a resolution. You don’t laugh together anymore. You no longer have shared ideals and goals, and you feel you aren’t being your true self when you are with him. Most importantly, if you are wondering why you are still in a relationship with this man, it’s probably time to end it.
Whether your relationship issues are simple or complex, only intuition and introspection can guide you in making this decision. And once it’s made, the following should help you through it. I got your back, sister. Now let’s get this over with.
First, consult with your brain trust – close friends, a therapist, the checker at the grocery store – and sort through your feelings. Support is key at a time like this, and a little feedback goes a long way. If your relationship has been long-term, this is a big decision. If shorter, it’s something to be handled sooner rather than later. Regardless, it won’t stay secret forever, so please make sure he finds out from
you before he hears it from someone else because that’s just… yuck. Put it in motion soon because putting it off will only make things worse.
Where you choose to do the deed depends on a number of factors. If you’ve only gone on a few dates, then a phone call is just fine; but if you are ending a significant relationship, do it in person. Nowadays, so many of our relationships play out online, and since breaking up is akin to a root canal, it’s tempting to do that online as well. Don’t. Although intimidating, an in-person conversation shows respect for the other person. It sends the message that the relationship was important to you and that they matter. So don’t be a coward. Man up and meet.
A private, neutral location, or even better, his place, will allow you to leave when you feel ready. Meeting at your place may mean having to ask him to leave if he tries to drag things out or things get dramatic. But if you are at his place, you have an exit strategy. Plus, you can take your stuff with you because, lord knows, you don’t want to have to go back a week later to pick up your favorite sports bra and slippers.
With compassion, of course. This is where empathy and kindness go a long way. Be clear and direct, and tell him you want to break up. Don’t assign blame. Explain why the relationship doesn’t work for you. He won’t be able to learn from the experience if he doesn’t know what went wrong. Try to keep your reasons general – especially if the specifics would hurt him. You don’t want him to feel like he’s being attacked, but you also don’t want him wondering what he did wrong. When breaking up, keep the focus on yourself and how you feel. Use the pronoun “I” a lot. And for the love of god, don’t fall back on the overused Hollywood cliché, “It’s not you; it’s me.” It’s trite, overdone, and lazy.
Reasonable or not, chances are you will feel a bit of guilt. This is where your well-being needs to take a front seat. You’ve struggled long and hard with this decision. Remind yourself of all the reasons why you know that ending the relationship is a good idea, and see it through to the finish.
After breaking up with him, do not leave the door open and give him hope that you might get back together. Trying to soften the blow will inevitably lead to more pain down the line. In the end, false hope does not bring closure, so avoid using phrases like “maybe in the future” or “take a break.” “Let’s just be friends?” Let’s not… at least not for now. And promise me, NO BREAKUP SEX! In the history of breakups, nothing good has ever come from breakup sex. So just DON’T. In fact, do not communicate with him at all until the dust settles and you both have successfully moved on. Unfollow. Delete. Block if you have to. But give it space, and give it time because both of you need to heal.
Don’t think of breaking up as a failure. Rather, think of it as a conclusion and moving on as a way for you both to start fresh. Now that you’ve ended what wasn’t working, you’ve opened up a world of opportunity and hope for something that will. The love of your life could be just around the corner. Who knows what the future holds… for the both of you.
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