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Breakups hit everyone differently. And it’s the unfortunate truth that all relationships are different. There are always underlying contexts or reasons for a break up that perhaps neither you nor I - or your parents, your best friend, whomever your personal confidant - will understand. So, despite my experience or my best advice, it may not apply to your particular situation. But whether it does, or not, you are not alone in anything you experience. Millions have gone through it before and survived and millions will go through it after you and survive. So here is my best advice when breaking up with someone for the first time.
1. Know why you are breaking up. Think about it clearly and for a while, and practice saying what you’re going to say. Be sure it is what you want. Be able to give explicit reasons for how you’re feeling and why you are doing what you’re doing.
In order to break up with someone, you have to know why you’re breaking up with them. Be able to iterate some pretty solid evidence and/or reasons as to why you’re breaking up with them. Not only will this make it easier to explain to your significant other so that they understand, but also to your friends, parents, or others (when you feel comfortable enough to do so). It is always okay to choose yourself first, but you have to keep in mind that a relationship involves two people, so if you want to end it amicably, you need to do everything in your control to make sure this happens. Being able to give sound, reasonable terms for why you want to end the relationship will help you feel secure in your decision and won’t leave your soon-to-be-ex wondering why you ended it or if they could have prevented it – sometimes not knowing is the most painful part of being broken up with.
2. Don’t let the other’s emotions sway your decision, especially in the initial moment of breaking up. But still, allow them to express all of their feelings to get everything out. It’s the gracious and considerate thing to do.
Your significant other could – and probably will – have a range of emotions in response to the breakup. Sometimes they feel the same way as you; sometimes they feel the opposite. It is incredibly important to go into the conversation sure of your decision so that their reaction, no matter what it is, will not change your mind. If you want to change your mind, it should be your own decision. Back to how they feel: let them get it out. Let them show emotion. They will calm down eventually even though it may not feel like it in the moment. Be gracious and try not to take everything so personally. They might try to hurt your feelings because you just hurt theirs. Take it in stride. As hard as it is, it will help them move forward knowing, at least in their mind, they fought back. And it is important to mention that it is okay if you cry too. You are allowed to be sad and cry – just because you’re ending something doesn’t mean it’s not difficult, just be conscious of the other person’s emotions.
3. Your emotions and your decisions are valid. With time comes peace. Don’t expect to feel okay immediately. Be okay with space. Respect how your partner is healing, and do what is best for you.
Feeling a range of emotions is okay. Just because breaking up with someone might be better for you, doesn’t mean it won’t hurt first. Getting over someone is a process even if you’re the one who initiated the breakup: sometimes the healing process is two steps forward one step back. Space can also be a good thing on both sides of the breakup. It allows you to focus on yourself and your ex to focus on themself. Believe me, if you have no intention of getting back together, space will save you and your ex a lot of pain. Furthermore, if you are the one to initiate the breakup, it is more likely you will get over the relationship sooner. Because of this, it is of the utmost importance that you show your ex respect by keeping your progress private and out of their face. Do not lead them on or manipulate them into thinking you might change your mind or you want a friends-with-benefits type situation. Friends-with-benefits can be very fun but very complicated, and if it is with an ex, emotions or lack thereof must be communicated. The most important thing to remember, however, is that with the passage of time, peace and healing are inevitable.
As we reach the end of this article, I will leave you with some final, more precautionary words. Someone recently told me that “all emotions are valid, but not all behaviors are”. Unfortunately, people get irrationally angry and let emotions get the better of them. It’s happened to me and I am sure it will happen to you. The most important thing to remember if emotions do hit boiling point is that you and your partner’s mental and physical safety are of the utmost importance. This can mean anything from not getting behind the wheel of a car, not walking alone at night, or attending therapy and seeking help for mental health damage. If you, a loved one, a friend, or an ex is in serious emotional distress or you are worried about their safety, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
We began with honesty, let us end in it too.Us. ~ Rupi Kaur