Ahhh, break-ups. Some avoid them. Some embrace them. And some don’t know how to go about them. Whether you’ve been dating for decades or just met a few months ago, break-ups are never fun for anyone. Holding the position as the one doing the “dumping” seems like the lesser of two evils. However, I’m sure many will back me up when I say that breaking the news to someone really isn’t a piece of cake. Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic cure for this sort of heartache, but I do have some advice on how to approach the situation.
Let’s start with the do’s…
- Do be honest – Now is not the time to create some wacky story about how you’ve been chosen by NASA for a special project in which you will be shipped to the moon… for the rest of your life. Explain why this relationship doesn’t work for you. Aside from it being the right thing to do, the other person deserves a chance at closure. Attempting to vanish from the face of the earth without a trace will only leave unanswered questions that may need to be revisited later.
- Do be respectful – This is an emotional event for both parties. It could amount to long hours of crying and rehashing past events or just an exchange of a few words. The blame game is an easy trap to fall into, but I promise you that it will only make the situation worse. Don’t be afraid to offer criticism, but be aware of your own faults as well.
- Do be time conscious – Sometimes, break-ups happen spur of the moment. However, if you have the chance to plan accordingly, be sure to take into account momentous days, holidays, and time. Breaking it off on your anniversary, at 8:00 a.m. before work, or Christmas Day are all examples of bad timing. Make sure to choose a time that allows you both to discuss the situation thoroughly.
- Do pick an appropriate location – Most people prefer to have an in-person discussion. Personally, I don’t know why. I would rather have someone break up with me over the phone because I have more control over ending the conversation, and he never has to see me cry. However, for those that choose to break up with someone in person, pick a spot that facilitates all the qualities I mentioned above. Also, privacy is a good thing to consider. No one wants to feel as if this emotional time is being broadcasted for everyone to speculate.
- Do plan ahead – Prenuptial agreements have become fairly popular for married couples. In the same way, it might not be a bad idea to have a break-up game plan in place. Exchanging ideas about how you would like the other to break the news to you, and figuring out a process for returning borrowed items can be a potential way to make this smooth process. Although many don’t like to talk about this topic, the reality is that more couples will break up than stay together. It’s probably better to be prepared.
Alright, and now for the don’ts…
- Don’t tell everyone else first – Hearing that you’re recently single from your best friend, little sibling, or the guy down the street is probably going to make you feel confused, angry, and a little embarrassed. Don’t be the person to do this to someone else. I can say that this has personally happened to me, and it was hardly an ideal end to a lengthy relationship.
- Don’t be disrespectful – Trying to justify your actions by pointing out the other person’s flaws, refusing to give appropriate attention to the issue, or just flat out rudeness is not tolerable. You have to realize that you are dealing with another person’s emotions. Be empathetic and try to see the situation from his or her point of view.
- Don’t talk badly about the other person – It’s over and done. There is no reason to go around telling people about your ex-partner’s negative qualities. For the most part, this break-up is between you and your significant other. You don’t owe anyone else an explanation for your actions. Plus, gossip and rumors will likely bite you in the butt anyways, so just don’t do it.
- Don’t try to be friends right away – Even if the other person is ok with being friends right away, insist on having time away from each other. Changing from a boyfriend-girlfriend role to a friend role can be psychologically challenging and a lot to process. It will be much easier for both of you if you allow space for healing.
- Don’t be wishy washy – Stick to your story and follow it through. If you want to break up, say it. If you don’t know how you feel, say it. Explain exactly how you feel, come up with a game plan, and follow it through. Break-ups cause a lot of stress and anxiety already. Having no decisive action only makes the process more difficult.
Good luck to all of you who are making this difficult change in your life. Just remember that sometimes good things have to fall apart so that better things can come together. Feel free to leave a comment telling me about your own break-up experiences. I’d love to hear about the good, the bad, or the ugly examples you’ve encountered in your own lives.
This image has been modified by How to Survive Modern Dating.