Having to break up with someone is not an easy task. In fact, a lot of people choose to stay in long-term relationships even when they’re not happy anymore, but they do it because it’s too hard for them to call it quits.
The truth is, breakups are hard. It hurts a lot when someone tells you out of nowhere that they want to break up with you, but it can be even more complicated when you’re the one that wants to break up, but you don’t know how to handle it.
It’s especially hard for couples who have been together for as long as they can remember. Unlike other close relationships, sharing a large part of your life with someone might make it very hard to imagine your life without them. You’re probably very close to each other’s family and share the same group of friends, therefore, a potential breakup will change the whole dynamic of your life.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s OK to stay in a relationship when it’s not what you want anymore. After all, when your heart tells you it’s time to put an end to it, you got to listen to it, as it knows best. It’s OK to move on just like it’s OK to leave when things are no longer working for you.
While no one tells you it’s going to be easy to part ways with someone that’s been part of your life for years and years, staying in a relationship that’s no longer working is not an option either. After all, it’s the ultimate goal to share your life with someone with who you’re compatible, and for that, it’s worth risking everything.
Also, being single again might not be as bad as it seems, especially if you’ve been in a serious relationship for a long time. In fact, you might enjoy the freedom that comes with the breakup. Being single might help you reconnect with yourself and understand what you’re looking for.
So instead of staying in a relationship that no longer brings you satisfaction, take the situation into your own hands, set your fears aside, and focus on making the breakup fair for both parties.
Read on to find the best tips on how to end a long-term relationship properly!
Pro Tip: Here’s a book that you may want to have in your personal library.
1. Prepare yourself.
If you’re 100% sure the relationship isn’t working, you need to make sure you’re prepared for the actual breakup. Maybe you don’t know how the other person will react and that scares you, or maybe you’re concerned about how your life will change after the breakup. Either way, it’s normal to have your fair share of worries, after all, you’re ending an old chapter of your life and starting a new one.
According to psychologist Loren Soeiro, Ph.D., ABPP, “In planning to break up with someone, you’ll go through a fair amount of distress yourself. Depending on how long you’ve anticipated the breakup, you’ll likely experience some form of anxiety or dread as you look ahead to taking unpleasant steps.”
While those steps might appear impossible at first, you’ll learn how to make things easier for both of you with a little preparation. Firstly, you need to think about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to do it. Since it’s a serious matter, it’s important to do it in a private place where you can have an open conversation.
Tears might also be involved so it won’t be such a good idea to do it at a restaurant, during dinner. Also, make sure you’re not ending the relationship over the phone or through a test. And remember, no matter how hard it might be, you’re doing both a favor in the long term.
2. Be honest.
While the last thing on your mind might be to hurt your partner, you need to make sure you’re being honest. No one wants to hear the truth but everybody needs it. Try to be honest about why you want to break up and help the other person understand your reasons by giving context.
Additionally, tell them why the relationship is no longer working for you, and, who knows, maybe they were feeling the same but didn’t have the courage to call it quits. Also, make sure you’re breaking up with them in a gentle way, and try not to hurt their feelings in the process, at least no more than they already are.
According to relationship expert Robert Taibbi, L.C.S.W., try focusing on how you’re feeling, instead of pointing fingers at them and criticizing their behavior. The last thing you would want is to appear angry, or as if you’re blaming them for the breakup.
Instead, focus on being calm, and clear and have an honest conversation about how you’re feeling. Don’t drop the bomb and then give them the silent treatment. Breakups are hard enough, there’s no point in complicating things even more.
Ask yourself how would you want to be treated if you were to be in their position. Chances are you’ll want honesty and kindness if the table was turned.
3. Let your friends and family members know about the breakup.
While it’s normal to give yourself as much time as you need to heal and be OK with the idea that you’re no longer together, the sooner you let the close people in your life know about your breakup, the faster you’ll be able to move on.
Keeping things to yourself might slow the healing process, as it might not feel like reality. Also, you probably need someone to talk to during these harsh times, so you might want your friend’s support.
However, you should know that it’s not acceptable to speak badly about your ex, especially not to mutual friends at least. Even if you’re no longer in a relationship, it’s important to continue to respect them for everything that you shared together in the past years.
As Taibbi has explained, you also need to be prepared to answer a lot of questions, since friends, family, and co-workers will naturally be curious about what happened. It’s definitely up to you what you choose to share and with whom, Taibbi added.
He recommends thinking about what you’re going to say ahead of time, just to be prepared. Try saying something like ‘Unfortunately, we went on our separate ways, it didn’t work out for us’.
4. Exchange your things.
After both of you managed to process the idea that things are over, it’s a good time to think about how you’ll exchange your things. Also, this will help you both move on faster, after all, the sooner you’re removing these reminders of your relationship, the sooner you’ll be able to focus on the future.
If you don’t want to see each other again just yet because you’re not ready, Taibbi recommends asking a mutual friend to help you with your things. However, for some people, it might be easier to do it themselves, as it can help them get closure. Either way, you need to understand and accept your ex-partner’s choice, whatever it might be.
It would also be a great idea to set some boundaries. For instance, promise that you won’t text or call each other until you’ve both moved on, or unless there’s something urgent. This will also help you heal faster.
5. Friends or nah?
While some people might want to stay friends with their ex-partners, some will find it very painful, and that’s why they might prefer to lose touch until they’ve managed to heal and move on. Also, some people find it easier when they can reach out or keep in touch with their ex.
According to Taibbi, at least at first, it might be easier for both of you to stop contact and concentrate on yourselves. Adjusting to a new, single life it’s not always easy, especially when you’ve been committed to someone for years and got used to doing everything together.
“Be proactive rather than reactive. Define your own policy on communication, set boundaries—that, for example, you won’t respond to text messages, or will only talk on the phone at certain times,” says Taibbi.
As he added, you need to respect and accept your ex’s choice, even when it’s not what you want. For instance, if they wish to stop contact for a while, you need to resist the urge of reaching out to them when you feel lonely.
6. Lastly, but not least, make sure you’re kind to yourself.
Breaking up can still hurt like hell, even when it was your idea to go on separate ways. Therefore, it’s normal to feel lonely or miss them from time to time, but you need to devise a plan for coping, in order to resist the urge of reaching them.
A good idea might be finding a new hobby or following a passion you always had, such as learning to play the guitar or joining a gym to get back in shape. Also, now that you’re single you have more time for your friends. No matter what you do, it’s important to cope with the situation and accept whatever you’re feeling, instead of simply avoiding it and hoping it will go away.
And try not to blame yourself too much, if it didn’t work this time, maybe it will work the next time you meet someone and start a relationship. Relationships are different for each individual, and sometimes it takes a few unsuccessful relationships until you meet your one and only.
Make sure to also check: 7 Toxic Relationship Red Flags You MUST Watch Out For.