It can be tempting to settle for an unsatisfying relationship due to fear of being alone or a desire to avoid hurting your partner. However, you’re doing both parties a disservice if you stick around when you’re no longer in love. Here are six tips for ending a relationship in a way that looks out for the other person’s mental and emotional health.
1. Commit to breaking up
Finding inner strength to end your romantic connection with someone you care about can be incredibly challenging, but once you’ve decided to do so then it’s kindest to follow through. Don’t allow yourself to come across as indecisive, or weasel out at the last minute (leaving your partner deeply confused).
2. Always do it in person
It’s incredibly disrespectful to end a relationship via text message or during an online chat. Make sure you see your partner in the flesh, and pick a neutral place (such as a coffee shop) that makes it easy for either of you to leave if emotions start to get too intense. However, choose a place that also facilitates a relatively private conversation.
3. Expect negative emotional reactions
Some breakups are mutual, but if your partner resists your attempts to end the relationship then you may find yourself on the receiving end of some hurtful and angry comments. Do your best to understand that these are coming from a place of pain, not of hate, and resist any urge to turn the separation into a vicious fight.
4. Answer questions
If your partner doesn’t see the split coming, you can expect to be asked some tough questions. Balance honesty with compassion, giving truthful answers without necessarily revealing all the details that would make the breakup harder (such as an utter lack of sexual satisfaction or a growing interest in someone else). It’s important to be clear about your feelings, but if you see a chance to save the other person’s pride then it may be worth taking it.
5. Make sure your partner definitely understands
Make it crystal clear that your feelings have changed and that the relationship is no longer right for you. You may be amazed how hard your partner tries to interpret your breakup as merely a break or as something you’re not sure about, as denial is a powerful defense mechanism. Use a calm tone and gentle language, but leave no room for misinterpretation.
6. Don’t push for a friendship
If you’re wondering how to strengthen a friendship with someone you used to date, the trick is to let them know that you would like to stay friends but respectfully allow them to set the appropriate boundaries.
It may pain you to think of losing contact with your former partner, but the kind move is to allow them to choose when (or whether) to stay in touch. In addition, be careful not to send out signals that you’re open to anything more than a platonic connection.