One of the hardest parts of dating!? Breaking up… unfortunately it’s an inevitable part of dating that no one enjoys, whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee. It’s hard not to wonder if you’re making a big mistake? If they’ll change? If you’ll be alone forever? Not to mention the months or years invested… so I get it, trust me. When a relationship starts to turn into more arguments than good times, or excitement fades into frustration, disappointment and hurt… then it could be a sign that you might have to start planning your exit strategy. There’s a reason there’s so many songs and movies about breakups, because it’s like the worst pain ever! The light at the end of the tunnel is that it’s opening you up to meeting the right person. So be strong and don’t waver, once you know that it’s what has to happen.
If you’re at that point of considering the end, then sometimes it’s helpful to reflect on the complaints or arguments you’ve had and see if you can identify any themes or patterns. Have you tried to bring it up several times with your partner and are just dismissed or promised change that never happens? Make sure you bring it up more than once or twice (but less than a hundred). The truly difficult part it is- maybe you really love this person! That doesn’t mean you should stay with them. We don’t always love the healthiest of people and sometimes there’s just two great people who aren’t meant to be together for some reason or another. Our strong feelings can be a blinder for some major issues going on.
So what’s the first step after you know in your heart of hearts that it has to end? Don’t make it too complicated, but come up with a statement about why it’s not working or the constant disagreement you’ve been having, but hasn’t changed. Mention how important it is to you and so this is why it won’t work out. Don’t feel the need to explain too much further or defend yourself because this can just lead to a bunch of more empty promises, pleading and negotiations. You already know you’ve tried to work on it and feel in your gut it has to end, so go in strong and unwavering and stick with what you originally came to say.
Next, try to set some boundaries so that you’re not vulnerable to getting back together when you’re feeling lonely in the initial few weeks/month after the breakup. If you want to, tell them you’d like to be friends at some point, but can’t communicate with them for a while. So that means if they text or call you, DON’T RESPOND and tell them that upfront so it’s clear. And if you don’t want to remain friends, it can be a little easier by just saying it was a hard decision, but you’re not going to change your mind and so you’re cutting off all communication. This can be really hard… but it’s so much harder when you go back and forth a million times and it can really wreak havoc on your emotions for way longer than necessary! Also, make sure you have a good support system, whether it be friends or family, and try to schedule your calendar with lots to do, so that you’re not left alone in your bedroom having a pity party for yourself.
Lastly, take a breather and some time for yourself and get back to doing the things you really enjoy doing! No matter what the circumstances where leading up to this, a breakup is really difficult and a loss of a relationship. So take some time to reflect… what initially attracted you to this person? Would you do anything differently next time? Should you look out for a particular trait or avoid one? Don’t feel like you have to jump right into another relationship, that’s so easy to do, but can bring around a whole new set of issues. Be thoughtful and intentional with who you date and don’t just slide into a new relationship. Really think about the qualities that you’d like in a partner, as well as want to develop in yourself, so that you can be better prepared the next time around.
Lauren A. Caron
REALife Relationships Student Director