Ending a relationship is never easy. It becomes even more complex when one person remains deeply attached to the partner initiating the breakup. Navigating this delicate situation requires understanding your feelings and your partner’s feelings and emotions.
Start by having an open and honest conversation about your feelings, emphasizing that you’ve thought deeply about the decision but believe it’s best for both of you to part ways and list your reasons.
Do It In Person
Don’t send an email or text. Always opt for a face-to-face meeting to show respect for the relationship and to provide an opportunity for them to express their feelings and concerns. This also helps with any confusion that written breakups tend to cause.
Express Your Reasons
Explain your reasons for the breakup calmly and clearly, focusing on your needs and personal growth rather than blaming them or finding faults. Giving specific reasons makes it easier.
Choose a Neutral Location
Try to find a neutral and private location for the conversation. This helps to create a safe space for both of you to share your thoughts and feelings. Don’t go somewhere you’ve gone on a date or to an openly public area.
Always Provide Closure
Offer closure by answering questions and discussing any lingering concerns they might have to help them understand the situation better. The “Why?” question may come up often, and it’s best to restate your feelings about why the breakup is best.
Don’t Give False Hope
Be firm and avoid giving false hope for reconciliation if you’re certain that the relationship is over to prevent prolonging their pain. Never say things like “I’d be open to getting back together in the future” or “If things work out, we’ll be together again.”
Acknowledge Their Feelings
Show empathy by acknowledging their feelings and pain, reassuring them that you genuinely care for their well-being. This breakup is more than likely going to hurt them significantly. Try not to attack them or get defensive even if they do that to you.
Agree on a temporary no-contact period to allow both of you to heal and adjust to the new situation without unnecessary emotional turmoil. Also, try to avoid places that they might go to. There’s nothing more awkward than running into a recent ex with whom you decided to go “no contact” for a little while.
Do Not Be Their Support
Encourage them to lean on their friends and family for support during this difficult time and remind them that they’re not alone. Make it very clear that while you still care about them, they cannot lean on you for support during this time.
Be Kind & Patient
Approach the breakup with kindness and patience. Understand that it may take time for them to come to terms with the breakup. Give them the space they need.
Avoid Mixed Signals
Be clear in your communication and avoid sending mixed signals that could give them false hope or cause confusion.
Maintain consistency in your decision and avoid backtracking, even if they express a desire to stay together. It may feel like you’re doing the right thing by checking in on them with a text or quick call, but this will only send them back into their initial heartbreak.
Always Use “I” Statements
Use “I” statements to express your feelings and decisions, making them less accusatory and more focused on your perspective. Using “I” statements shows onus on your part and that you’re taking the responsibility for ending the relationship and not blaming them.
Respect their need for space and boundaries, allowing them the room to process their emotions without feeling pressured. This can be applied to physical spaces as well. If you belong to the same gym or frequent the same coffee shop, find a new gym or coffee shop or at least a new time to go.
Reiterate Your Decision
Reiterate your decision if they reach out again, remaining compassionate but reinforcing that the breakup is final. This doesn’t have to be done rudely or condescendingly. You can be firm in a caring way.
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