Sunday, January 31, 2010

How to Break Up

Ending a relationship is one of the hardest things you can do, it breaks your heart inside, and your soon to be ex-partner. Sure, you have your reasons to break up with them, but how come it is still so hard? Because we don't want to break their hearts...

Have things turned around in your relationship?
Think about why you are breaking up with this person. If you are simply upset with your partner, you should consider talking about what upset you and focus on resolving it, rather than ending the relationship. But if this same issue has already been discussed, yet nothing changes and you keep feeling unsatisfied, hurt, or betrayed, then breaking up might be the only way to end the pattern. Your partner will ask you why you want out, and you should be prepared with answers. Before having "the talk" that ends the relationship, do your best to articulate the reasons you are breaking up. If you have trouble remembering examples during emotional discussions or arguments, write your reasons down in advance. It may help to talk this over with someone you trust, or with a counselor.

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Plan out how long you are willing to spend breaking up
. The actual conversation in which you break up with this person can last a lot longer than it should, especially if your partner is devastated or completely surprised by your decision. It'll be much easier for you to stick to your guns if the conversation doesn't drag out. Expect to spend at least one hour breaking up, and longer if the relationship lasted a year or more. You may even want to arrange an appointment with a friend in a neutral location so that you can say "I'm supposed to meet John/Jane at the restaurant in fifteen minutes, so I have to go now."

Break up in person. It is easier to break up with someone if you don't have to look the person in the eye, but it can also be interpreted as cruel and cowardly. Unless you are a long distance away and choose not to wait until you see the person again, don't break up by phone, e-mail, or through an instant messenger system. And don't even think about breaking up with someone by pulling a disappearing act, even if it's just by suddenly eliminating contact with the person. The lack of closure can be psychologically damaging.

* If you don't live together, break the news at his/her home and in private. They'll want to feel safe enough to respond emotionally--no one wants to be broken up with in public or near family and friends, and risk bursting into tears, or be forced to bottle up all those emotions. While you can break up with them at your place, making someone go home after getting news like that will be difficult, and could make them more bitter. If you are at your partner's home, you can leave after you feel you've made your decision clear.
* If you live together, breaking-up will be particularly problematic and stressful; you should have a place where you can stay until the person you've broken up with digests the big change. You can either move all of your stuff while they're not home and then break up when they come home and notice, or break up and leave with some of your things with the intention to come back when things have calmed down to get the rest of your belongings. Either way will be very difficult for the other person, but only you know what's best for your situation.

Break up calmly. If you say the dreaded words "We need to talk", your partner will immediately know what's going on, and that's not a bad thing. You don't want to blurt out "We need to break up" out of the blue, or worse, when you're in an argument. You need to approach the whole thing calmly and peacefully, with a sense of resolution. Sit down with your partner and let him or her know that you've decided to end the relationship.

Expect any or all of the following reactions.

* Questioning -- He or she will want to know why, and whether there was anything he or she could have done to prevent the breakup. Answer the questions as honestly as possible.
* Crying -- The other person will likely be upset, and it will show. You can comfort him or her, but don't allow yourself to be manipulated into changing your decision.
* Arguing -- He or she may dispute anything you've said during the breakup, including examples you used in your reasons for breaking up. Don't get dragged into a fight, and don't split hairs. Let your partner know that arguing isn't going to change your decision.
* Bargaining or Begging -- He or she may offer to change, or to do things differently in order to preserve the relationship. If the person didn't change when you've discussed your problems in the past, it is too late to expect him or her to truly change now.
* Lashing out -- Whether it's as simple as saying "You'll never find anyone as good as me" or as scary as saying "I'll make you regret this", he or she is usually just trying to make himself or herself feel better. Threats of physical harm, however, are serious and should not be ignored. If you feel that your safety is at risk, stay calm and leave quickly.

Distance yourself. It'll be difficult, but don't call them, don't go places where you know they frequent, and make yourself scarce. Take the time to reflect on your situation and learn more about yourself. Do all the things you've ever wanted to do, that you wouldn't have done if you were still with this person. Now is the perfect time to focus on those missed opportunities. Your ex may try to get in touch, but wait a while (some people suggest six months) before resuming contact, if at all. You felt close to this person at one point in your life, and you will probably always have a soft spot for him or her, but it's time for both of you to move on.

Realize that breaking up is just a normal part of life. Yes, breaking up is difficult - but like it or not, this is a normal part of teenage and adult life, and as much as it is painful, it is normal. Sometimes you will be the dumper, sometimes you might be the dumpee. We all have heartbreak; it hurts- but we all survive it, and you (and your ex) will too

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