No one ever goes into a relationship thinking that they will break up. Still, over the course of your dating life, you will probably either be dumped or do the dumping at some point. When you are put into the position of breaking up with someone, however, the situation can get awkward real fast. No breakup happens overnight and it usually stems from repressed feelings or realizations that a relationship just isn’t working. Before you make the decision to part ways, there are several questions you should ask yourself that will make the breakup as smooth as possible. There may be a few tears and unbearable silences, but with time and wine, you will both survive.
1. Why do I want to break up with this person?
This may seem like an obvious question and one your friends will inevitably ask (to which you’ll have a rehearsed response). Outlining in bullet points or even writing down the reasons for breaking up can help you feel validated in your decision. It can even be as simple as writing a pros and cons list for breaking up. This is especially helpful for those who go back and forth between wanting to break up with their significant other and staying with them. Seeing your own feelings written out can give you a sudden epiphany like, “Why didn’t we break up sooner?” And if you feel comfortable, confiding in a family member or friend who has no personal stake in the matter can help you feel more confident in your decision.
2. Is there a way to work out the issues in the relationship?
No relationship is perfect. Identifying the problems together, whether they be trust issues or lack of passion, will help you both come up with a plan to tackle the problems. Do you feel like your relationship lacks heat? Are there feelings of jealousy from either end? Discuss what (or who) is making either of you angry or uncomfortable. Was there infidelity in the relationship? Maybe counseling is an option if you both still love each other and want to make it work. Regardless of what the outcomes may be, clear communication from both parties will be the best closure to any breakup.
3. Will I regret the decision?
Right before you break the bad news to someone, you might get cold feet. And even after, you may feel like the villain for ending things. Second-guessing your decision for breaking up is only natural, but if you nudge yourself to think of the reasons for ending the relationship (see question one) and you know you both tried your best to keep it going (see question two), then you will not regret parting ways.
4. What will life be like post-breakup?
Imagining your day-to-day without the person you’re used to seeing 24/7 is heartbreaking. Just even thinking about it might make you want to reconsider breaking up. We rely a lot on our partners to listen to our rants and musings (that not even our friends would care about) and designate them as our automatic adventure buddies. To lose this aspect in a breakup is devastating. But things will get better. Being single means you’ll see your friends more, attend those extra happy hours (which you would have previously skipped for your SO), and pay more attention to your own happiness and well-being. It may seem scary, but alone time is quite often the best time.
5. How should I do it?
OK, so you’re 100 percent committed to ending things. The question is how you should break up with the other person. We’ve all heard stories of breakups that ended with just a text or with one person ghosting the other, but when you legitimately care about someone, these options seem harsh and unforgivable. The best and least confusing way to break up with the other person is to tell them in person. The conversation can happen in your home, in a coffee shop, at a park, or anywhere that is semiprivate enough for a serious conversation but also public enough so that the person getting dumped can escape right away. If you hate confrontation and think you might break out in tears during the conversation, consider writing everything in a letter and then reading it out loud. Or make talking points on your phone and make sure you stick to them. The point is to be clear and confident in expressing your emotions and needs.
6. What should I say?
If you haven’t talked about breaking up already, then you can easily be blindsiding the other person when you do bring it up. In this situation, you should ask your partner how he or she thinks the relationship is going and then state your honest feelings about where you see things heading. You may be surprised that the other side might end up agreeing with you. To avoid the “we’re all thinking it, but no one said it” situation, be the one to say it. If you want to break up and not keep in contact, state that. If you want to break up but leave the door open in the future, say that. Of course, you should let the other person down as gently as you can and give them time to absorb the information, but don’t sugarcoat your feelings or the situation.
7. Should I leave the door open for getting back together in the future?
This one is tricky because leaving the door open to getting back together might not provide either side with the closure you both need. It’s perfectly fine to both go your separate ways and still remain in touch. The key is to know when and how to stay in contact. This doesn’t mean you can check up on your ex every week or have your ex treat you like you’re both in a relationship (when clearly you’re not). It takes two mature adults to break up and get back together and if this seems like the right decision for you, go for it. If you don’t find the arrangement working, though, you’ll have to speak up about it and it may feel like you’re breaking up all over again.
8. What have I learned from this relationship?
A breakup doesn’t constitute a failed relationship. Every person you date is a chance to learn a little more about yourself and what you want in a partner. Try seeking out the positives of every experience, and who knows, you could one day start a blog or write a book about all your misadventures. There are many women and men out there who can relate to breakups and heartaches. You are not alone!