Is There a Correct Way to Break Up?

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There is an infamous scene in Sex and the City where the character Carrie proclaims, “He broke up with me on a post-it!” If you saw this episode, you probably recall the angst in her eyes, the gasps from the girls and the pass a police officer gives her out of sympathy. While this is hilarious for a sitcom, it brings up a real question: is there ever a proper way to end a relationship?

So, you have rationally searched your soul (hopefully) and decided that this person and this relationship are not a fit, are not fixable and that you must move on. To linger would be cruel to both of you; nobody wants to later find out that someone did not want to be with him or her, but was afraid to say goodbye. Your next step is to take a deep breath and follow a plan that allows both of you to exit with dignity, grace and hopefully some closure.

As you make your plan on when and where to say goodbye, be conscious of the fact that at one time there was something you thought was great about this person. If that does not work for you, ask yourself how you would want to be treated if your boyfriend were saying goodbye to you.

Break up in person! This cannot be stressed enough; as long as the individual does not represent a physical danger to you, have the courtesy to say goodbye face to face in a place where you will have each other’s undivided attention. IM, email, a social network like Facebook or any other modern technology is unacceptable and will cause undue duress.

Use integrity and be honest as to why you are leaving, but don’t be cruel and recite everything this person ever did to get on your nerves. Listing the faults of your soon-to-be ex will only add insult to injury and more than likely lead to a shouting match.

Do not use phrases such as, “This is not a good time for me,” “I just need a break,” “It’s not you – it’s me.” Words like these will create false hope for the other person who will then be kept in limbo waiting for your return. If you do not want to be friends with your former mate, then do not lead him or her to believe you will be. On the flip side, if you are the one wanting to remain friends, remember that your ex may not be able to return the sentiment and you need to respect this person’s choice.

Now that you have made it clear that the relationship is over, take into consideration that while you have known you are leaving, this is fresh information to the guy or gal sitting opposite you. Your now former mate may be stunned and wondering if he or she heard you right. Give this person some time to digest the information and to ask questions within reason. Again, remember that you do not want this to turn into a shouting match.

Hopefully, if you remain gracious and sincere all will go as well as things can in this type of situation. Both parties will have some closure and maybe you both will find out some information about yourselves that will help you in your next relationship.

After some weeks have passed, your mind might drift to your ex because you’re feeling lonely and bored, or worse, you have been drinking. You may then convince yourself that you should call. Stop! Count to one hundred, think about why you are really calling and remind yourself that the reasons or issues that caused you to leave still exist. Most of all, remember the heartache you caused by your earlier declaration. Unless you can say, “I was wrong … I want you back heart and soul,” then you must leave that person alone to heal and move forward with his or her life.

Saying goodbye is never easy, but hopefully the above will prove to be helpful if you are ever faced with the task. Also, no matter who did the breaking up, you should give yourself time before jumping into another relationship. Hang out with friends, read some good books or get to that list of to-dos that you have been putting off. Being alone does not mean being lonely and a little time spent just on yourself will give you a clearer view of the new person you want to have in your sights.

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