Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s even harder if you’re still in love with the person. Unfortunately, sometimes in life, we must end a relationship with someone we care for deeply. These break-ups are often the hardest.
If you need to leave someone you love, you want to prepare a bit beforehand. Let’s take a closer look at how to break up with a loved one, why you might need to do so, and how to make the process as gentle and amicable as possible.
Preparing for the Break-Up
Breaking up with someone you love isn’t an impulsive act. It’s likely a decision you’ve struggled with for a while now. After all, you’re not ending a relationship with someone you no longer love. Instead, you’re ending it with someone you still care about as a person. Even if you’ve determined that ending the relationship is the best option, going through with it is still difficult.
Here are three steps to take before the actual break-up:
Plan a Time and Place
Schedule a day and location to sit down and talk with your partner. Try to choose a time when your partner isn’t distracted by work or life events.
However, don’t delay the break-up for long. Once you’ve decided the relationship must end, don’t drag out the inevitable. Your partner will likely sense a change in your feelings and behavior.
(You can either break up at home or in a public place. We’ll go over the pros and cons below.)
Create a Plan for After the Break-Up
The specific plan varies based on your current situation. If you live together, you’ll probably need to move. Generally, it’s a bit too much to expect your ex to suddenly move out, especially considering they likely had no idea the break-up was imminent.
Unfortunately, packing up your belongings beforehand is usually difficult. You don’t want to tip off your partner about the break-up. They should learn about it directly from you; not infer something is wrong when they catch you putting your possessions in a suitcase.
Along those same lines, be careful about who else you tell about your decision. You might have to tell a close friend if you’ll need a place to stay for a while. However, make sure the friend knows how to keep the information secret. Don’t tell a mutual friend as they may tip off your partner.
All this sneaking around probably won’t feel good. After all, you’re actively deceiving your partner. However, the alternative is worse. If your partner discovers about the imminent break-up through some third-party, they’ll likely feel far more hurt and rejected than learning about it from you directly.
Commit to the Decision
Some relationships are easy to end. The two of you can’t stand one another, and both want to end things. Unfortunately, breaking up with someone you love is far more difficult. Even though breaking up is the right idea, you still have feelings for the other person, as they do for you.
Try writing down all the reasons you feel breaking up is a good idea. Remain as rational and objective as possible. Look at your life as if you’re an outsider. List all the reasons why the relationship isn’t helping your life, and why breaking up is the best option.
Doubting your decision is only natural. When you’re feeling unsure about whether you’re doing the right thing or not, consult your list. It can help you remain steadfast in your resolve.
Tips for Breaking Up with a Loved One
You’ve decided to end the relationship. You’ve made post-break-up plans. Now it’s time to sit down with your partner. It won’t be an easy or comfortable conversation, but the tips below can help. Here’s how to handle The Talk:
Technology has made breaking up more impersonal than ever before. Folks can end relationships via text, email, tweet, Facebook post, or more.
Some people don’t even bother to tell their partner about the break-up. Instead, they ghost them by suddenly cutting off all contact. Of course, most ghosting occurs between people who have only been on a few dates, but it’s still a possibility in a long-term relationship.
These indirect methods might seem easy at the time. You don’t have to confront the person. However, ghosting or breaking up via a message or phone call is extremely hurtful to the person getting dumped.
The best way to break-up with a loved one is face-to-face. It’s the most respectful method. After all, we’re not talking about breaking up with someone you’ve only dated once or twice. Instead, this is someone with which you share a loving history.
Even though the relationship is over, you presumably still care for the person somewhat. A face-to-face conversation helps bring a sense of closure for both parties.
Should I Break-Up in a Public Place?
Many relationships experts recommended breaking up in a public place like a restaurant or coffee shop. While that’s good advice in some situations, it’s not appropriate for everyone.
The idea behind choosing a public place is it helps both parties remain calm. The person getting dumped is less likely to scream, yell, and act erratically.
However, breaking up in a public place does hinder the person’s ability to respond. The person being broken up with might feel uncomfortable crying or displaying similar emotions. Also, they might feel unable to discuss intimate issues with members of the public sitting nearby.
Break up in a public place if you feel your soon-to-be-ex might become excessively angry or even violent. Otherwise, breaking up in a non-public space might offer more comfort and privacy during what’s a stressful time.
However, don’t break up with the person in your own home. You want the option to leave whenever you wish. Always drive to the location in your vehicle. Also, make sure a friend knows where you are and what’s going on.
Finally, don’t drink alcohol before or during the break-up. It might make you feel comfortable at the moment. However, it also heightens emotions and can make you say things you’ll later regret. You can meet in a restaurant or bar, but avoid ordering drinks.
Avoid Long Explanations
One of the biggest mistakes people make is overexplaining their reasons for the break-up. The intentions behind providing a long break-up narrative are usually good. You want to leave the other person feeling like the break-up isn’t their fault.
However, people don’t usually want to hear a variation of “It’s not you; it’s me.” It seems disingenuous. Plus, detailed reasons for the break-up often offer the dumped party false hope about reconciliation. The person might think that if they fix the problems, they can save the relationship.
Be honest about your reasons for breaking up, but don’t go into extensive detail. Chances are, the other person already understands the general reasons for the break-up. You don’t need to elaborate much.
When breaking up with someone, you’re informing them of a decision you’ve made. It requires a different style of communication compared to how a romantic couple talks when working out a problem together.
Keep your explanation brief and short. You’re not initiating a long, drawn-out discussion. Instead, inform your partner of your decisions and end the meeting within a reasonable amount of time.
Of course, keeping a break-up short is difficult. Your feelings for the person will compel you to explain your position.
Set some time constraints beforehand. The environment you choose can help. For instance, meet your soon-to-be-ex in a restaurant which closes early. You know the conversation will end at a certain point.
Another option is to ask a friend to pick you up at a certain time. Not only does this give you a reason to leave, but your friend can act as a sympathetic ear post-break-up.
Don’t Expect Agreement or Understanding
Your goal here is to inform your partner of your feelings. Don’t expect them to agree with your decision. That’s okay. You’re not trying to persuade them.
If you try to expect the person to understand the reasons for the break-up, it’s all-too-easy for the conversation to turn into a long, drawn-out back and forth.
Although not addressing your partner’s concerns might seem cold and uncaring, it’s usually the best idea. Otherwise, you risk giving the other person false hope.
Don’t Stay Friends
Even though you still have feelings of affection for your ex, you don’t want to stay friends. Doing so usually results in long-term pain for both parties.
Friendship following a break-up impairs the ability for you and your ex to move forward in your lives. At least one of you will always long for more. The healthiest option for both of you is a complete separation.
Why You Might Need to Leave Someone You Love
Understanding when it’s time to leave someone you love is difficult. After all, the relationship will still have good moments, maybe even many of them. However, you’ll also likely notice a persistent feeling that something isn’t quite right, even if you can’t quite put it into words.
Here’s a closer look at why you should end a relationship with a loved one:
Physical, verbal, and emotional abuse are all clear signs the relationship should end immediately. Even just one instance of abuse is enough.
Unfortunately, leaving an abusive partner isn’t always easy. You might need to leave quickly and secretly. Always prioritize your safety over your belongings. If you need to leave personal items behind and run, do so. You can always return later with law enforcement to retrieve your belongings safely.
Leaving an abusive partner typically doesn’t require any of the break-up steps described above. You don’t owe them an explanation for why you’re ending the relationship. In many cases, confronting your abuser is a volatile and potentially dangerous situation, so you should try to avoid doing so entirely.
Lack of a Future Together
People start dating for all sorts of reasons. You don’t need to imagine a future with your partner during the first weeks or months of dating. However, after you’ve been together for a while, you probably want to consider the potential future you and your partner might have together.
Signs you might not have a future together include:
- Lack of similar long-term goals. For example, you’re focused on your career while your boyfriend is only interested in travel.
- Different level of interest in children. You might want a large family while your girlfriend doesn’t want kids at all.
- Different preferences for living arrangements. You love to live in large, urban areas while your boyfriend prefers the open spaces of the country.
Staying together when you don’t see a future with the other person is unfair to you both. Additionally, don’t expect someone to change their fundamental life plans for you. For example, if someone doesn’t want kids now, don’t stay with them hoping they’ll change their mind in a few years.
Breaking off the relationship allows both of you the freedom to pursue what you truly want out of life. Staying together when you know there’s no future usually results in feelings of resentment as the years continue.
Loss of Trust
Trust is the bedrock of every successful relationship. Unfortunately, even a minor breach of trust can result in long-lasting damage. Trust is almost impossible to recover once gone.
Infidelity is one of the most common deceptions in a relationship. If your partner cheated on you once, they’re likely to do so again. Even if they don’t, you’ll always wonder if they might.
Unfortunately, any infidelity is cause for concern. If your partner cheated on someone in an earlier relationship, they’re 3.5 times as likely to cheat on you, too. Of course, people can change, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Cheating isn’t the only way trust becomes lost. Any significant secret can also ruin a relationship. Examples include:
- Your partner has children you didn’t know about
- Your partner is concealing massive debt
- Your partner is hiding a criminal record
People are reluctant to admit their faults. They might only reveal a big secret after knowing you for a while. There’s no specific timetable for revealing something shameful. However, if you feel blindsided by a shocking secret, that’s often a solid sign your partner isn’t trustworthy.
You’re Not Who Your Partner Needs
This one’s tough because neither side is worthy of blame.
You might love your partner immensely but not be the person they need. The two of you are incompatible in ways which hold you both back from the life you want.
For example, maybe you’re highly organized and motivated. You plan out every detail and prepare for the future. However, your partner is the opposite. He or she flies through life by the seat of their pants, letting the winds of fate take them from one adventure to the next.
Neither approach to life is wrong. In some cases, you might influence each other over time and approach a compatible middle-ground. Unfortunately, the opposite can also occur. Your attitudes toward life might grow increasingly different.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Addiction often creates significant challenges for a relationship. If your partner has a substance abuse problem, you’ll naturally want to help them get clean and healthy. However, staying supportive during recovery isn’t always easy.
Overcoming addiction requires significant work on the part of the addict. Much of that work involves intense self-reflection. They might not have the emotional energy needed to both recover and focus on another person. In some cases, breaking up with them can help them heal.
Be aware of co-dependency, too. A co-dependent relationship is when one person enables the other’s addiction or self-destructive behavior. If you expend all of your emotional energy helping your partner deal with the ramifications of their addiction, separation is usually required for either of you to get better.
You’re in Love with Someone Else
This situation typically feels awful.
What if you’re in a relationship, but find yourself falling in love with someone else? It’s not that you love your current partner any less. However, all you can seem to think about is this new person, who might be a friend, co-worker or even someone you don’t know well.
In some cases, you might have better compatibility with the new person than your current partner. It’s a sad situation, but maybe, in the long run, you’ll have a happier life with someone else.
Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case. Typically, these new feelings have less to do with the new person, and more to do with subconscious feelings regarding your current relationship. The new person seems thrilling and exciting because, deep down, you’re not happy with the person you’re with.
Strong, on-going feelings for someone else are often a sign you should end your current relationship. However, don’t expect a relationship with the new person to fix all of your problems. Most likely, you’re doing a fair amount of projecting.
There are More Bad Times Than Good
Ultimately, a relationship should make you feel happy and fulfilled. During the early stages, you’ll probably feel ecstatic about the relationship most of the time. As the years go on, these feelings will fade somewhat.
All long-term relationships fluctuate. You’ll experience lulls, troubles, and bad times. If your relationship is healthy, you’ll weather these bad times and remain stronger.
However, the clearest sign a relationship should end is when the bad times significantly outweigh the good. If most of your memories hurt your heart or fill you with regret, you might need to move on.
What Does It Feel Like When You Leave Someone You Love?
Leaving someone you love usually feels terrible, awful, and every other negative adjective you can name. Understanding what you’ll go through often helps you control your feelings and stay the course during difficult times.
First, you’ll feel lonely. You haven’t just lost a partner; you’ve lost a best friend. Everything you used to do with that person you know must do alone. Small, simple activities such as eating dinner or watching TV can feel crushingly lonely, at least for a while.
On the plus side, you’ll also feel feelings of excitement and mystery. You’re now navigating life completely on your terms. The future is completely up to you.
Get to Know Yourself
Reclaim your identity. Many people in a relationship, especially an unhealthy one, lose their sense of self. Their partner’s interests become their own. They might lose touch with friends. The period following a break-up is ideal for rediscovering what makes you, you.
Don’t fear to forge a new path. Try new things. Take classes. Join a sports league. Reconnect with old friends and make some new ones as well.
Should You Start Dating?
Yes and no.
Generally, you don’t want to enter another long-term relationship right away. Spend time learning who you are as a single person. Entering into a serious relationship right away is often just a reaction to the fear of loneliness.
However, you can date casually. Meet new people of the opposite sex. Learn how to flirt. If you feel comfortable doing so, have some casual hook-ups. Have fun living your life free from serious commitments.
Not all relationships are meant to last. Sometimes you can love someone deeply but are unable to stay with them for the long haul. While the process of leaving someone you love is painful, ideally, both parties will end up in a better place emotionally afterward.
Understand that what you’re attempting to do is often difficult. You’ll almost certainly have doubts along the way. Return to this guide as often as you need for advice. A better, happier future awaits!