Breakup The Right Way
By: Couples Counseling Staff
Are you thinking of breaking up with someone? If so, you are not alone. Here at Couples Counseling Center in Chicago, we work with lots of clients who are thinking about pulling the chord on a relationship. The reasons for wanting to split up are usually plentiful. If you are like most people, you probably have been contemplating a split for some time. If you have now reached a place where you absolutely know that you want to stop dating someone – this article is for you.
What follows are three practical tips for breaking up with someone. While these suggestions made here may seem like common sense, we encourage you to read them all in order to fully absorb what’s being communicated.
Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!
1) Choose the Right Location Breakup
Location – Location – Location. While this is the motto of many real estate brokers, it still applies to what we are talking about here – breakups. The place where the split occurs is very important. Needless to say, doing it over a post-it or a text message is bad etiquette. You don’t want to come across as the Ice Queen or King, right?
For this reason alone, you should always do it in person, regardless of how difficult and uncomfortable it might be for you. This way you offer your partner the chance to ask questions, see your facial expressions, hear your tone and see how painful this is for you as well.
Some people find a public park a good place for the breakup location. Others have used a lake, beach or nature trail. Avoid any location that has lots of people around, like theaters or crowded restaurants. The person you are ending things with will likely be emotional – and so will you. Do you really want strangers gawking when one or both of you are crying?
2) What you should say
This is the worst and most delicate part of the process. While most men and women feel the instinct to sugarcoat their speech in order to spare their partner’s feelings, this might turn out to be a bad move as it can turn against you. No matter what you have prepared, keep it short and simple. You need to be decisive and on point. Active listening skills will be critical as part of this process.
FYI: Beating around the bush is almost always a bad idea because when ending a relationship. Honesty is a key ingredient for a clean break-up. When you don’t stay true to what you feel inside, you communicate from a false center. This leaves the opportunity for wiggle room – something your partner will sense during the conversation.
Remember, if you want to end things with someone, you need to speak from a place of strength and not unintentionally lead the person to believe that the relationship can be repaired.
This is why you need to think very carefully about breaking up in the first place. Once you ring that bell – it cannot be “un-rung”. If you are unsure about what to do, you might want to speak to an objective person, like a relationship therapist, to help clarify some of what you are feeling (See our page on individual counseling).
3) Breakup Nicely With Class
After you have broken the news to your freshly minted “ex” and spent time sharing mutual feelings, it is time for you to go. From our experience, most couples spend hours “talking about it”. While this makes sense for complicated, long-term relationships, it doesn’t need to be this way for short term romances.
You should go with an exit strategy already thought out. Because break-up conversations usually go in circles, there are very few chances you’ll escape them any time soon. Therefore, the best strategy is to avoid them. You go in, deliver the news and actively listen to the response and exit. That may sound cold but you want to get this over with right?
After breaking up, you might keep the communication lines open for a little bit. Usually there are questions, apologies and so on that will occur. This is all part of the loss process after a relationship ends.
With that shared – don’t keep those lines open too long. There needs to be extended periods of time where communication does not take place. It’s the only way for the healing to start – for you and your ex. The truth is both of you will need time to adjust to your new reality – the reality of being single.
Question to ask yourself: Do I need to block my ex on Facebook and other social media? The answer will depend on the history of your relationship. If you or your ex were codependent, a block might be a good idea (see our post on codependency).
Summing Things Up
All things considered, breaking-up is a very difficult process that, unfortunately, we all go through at least once in our lifetime. Since it usually comes with heartache and suffering, we might as well learn how to do it as gently as possible. Anyone who tells you breakups can occur “pain free” lying to you and is probably channeling some form of narcissism.
We hope you found this post on breaking up useful. If you are struggling with a decision right now on what to do about your relationship and you are in Chicago, consider booking an appointment with a relationship counselor. Sometimes having neutral person to share your thoughts with can do wonders!