How to end a relationship without being a dick
Breakups suck. It's true - whatever the reason, they're tough to get over. If you're the one intitiating the split, it can be really rough - you know just how hard it's going to be for the person you're hurting. Being dumped is one of the most painful things that can happen to us (1) and it can have a massive impact on our lives, affecting our self-esteem, our ability to pursue goals and our overall life satisfaction (2). But when things aren't working out, you just know, and sometimes it's kinder to end things before you both get in too deep. So how can you end a relationship without being a dick? Here are a few ways to make things a bit less painful.
Do it the right way
Step away from social media, and put your mobile phone down. Facebook, Twitter, texts, emails - even phone calls - these are all bad ways to end a relationship, even a casual one. It might require more balls, but talking face-to-face with your partner is the kindest way to breakup. Yes, we know, there will probably be tears and maybe even anger, but at least you're doing the right thing and giving both of you the opportunity to say your piece.
Before you breakup with anyone, clarify your own thoughts. Think about why you're ending things and be ready to discuss this with your significant other. Perhaps you feel disappointed, hurt or angry at their actions. Maybe the relationship isn't really what you're looking for right now. It could simply be that you both want different things - they're ready to settle down and start a family, whilst you want to travel the world and experience new things. Remember this doesn't have to be a totally negative discussion; think about the things you love and admire about your other half before you sit down to break the news.
Empathy is important when it comes to delivering news that has the potential to hurt somebody else. It's not just what you say when you break up with someone; it's how you say it - get the tone of your voice right and you're more likely to help them heal from the pain. Getting dumped hurts, but we all want to feel emotionally validated and like our feelings matter. That's why using phrases like, "I know this is hard," and "I feel terrible for hurting you," are great for paving the way for an open, honest discussion. Don't forget to take the blame for your part in the end of the relationship; this isn't the time to accuse your significant other or point the finger.
Choose your words carefully
Make sure you frame any talk in terms of what hasn't been working for you in your relationship. Something like, "I feel we are in different places in our lives - you want to put your career first, and I admire that, but I want to travel and try new things. I need somebody who is willing to do that with me." By being honest about how your needs are not being met and respectful of your partner, you can have an amicable breakup.
Accept it's the end
If there's one mistake you must never make, it's to leave a breakup conversation on an ambiguous note. What do we mean? Well, always be clear that the door is closed on your relationship and that things are over between you. Ambiguity means one partner may hold false hope you'll get back together - this prevents both of you from moving on and healing from the relationship; and from meeting somebody new. It can also lead to jealousy, anger and bad blood between you. In fact, research shows that those in on-again, off-again relationships are more frustrated and stressed than those in more stable partnerships, so this could be bad news for your health too (3)!
Remember the 'no-contact' rule
Ceasing contact with your partner is the healthiest way for both of you to move on after a breakup - yes, it might be tough, but the alternative is often tougher. Resist the urge to stalk their social media feed, text, email or call them. It's for their own good as well as you own, as keeping in touch can lead to false hope things will work out. It's far kinder to break off contact when you breakup. You're saving each other from future trauma and pain - remember, you're breaking up because your relationship isn't that good in the first place - why would you want to drag it out and make things worse?
Breaking up is hard to do, no doubt about it. But if you're the one doing the dumping, you have a responsibility to make things as painless as possible, for both of you. And who knows, if you follow these tips, they might end up thinking you're not a complete dick, after all.
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