How to Break Up Without Breaking Down

Dr. Isabell Springer, PhD on Sep 24, 2019 in Relationship and Family

Whether you’re the one seeking to end up your relationship or you’re the person being broken up with, it’s likely that your connection has already started crumbling. If you’re struggling with letting something go, it’s very likely that it’s already gone. You’re just refusing to admit or come to terms with it. No amount of denial will make your relationship stick around.

Simply put, what’s meant to stay in your life won’t walk out of your life. You don’t have to agree with someone’s choice to leave, but you cannot force them to stay. And so in the spirit of that, here is a list of ways you can approach the dissolution of your relationship and use it to propel you forward instead of breaking you down.

1. Get real with it

“There’s nothing at all wrong with deciding someone isn’t for you. There is something very wrong with ruining large chunks of someone else’s life while you squeamishly and sentimentally hesitate to get out of the way.” ― The School of Life

It’s important to communicate how you’re feeling with your partner and discuss your relationship thoroughly. Both parties hurt during a breakup, regardless of whether you’re the initiator or not. Try leaving your ego aside and not taking things personally. Relationships end. Sometimes, they end long before the moment people actually break up. This is not a time to play games or try to manipulate your partner; don’t be “kind” as an effort to avoid conflict or delay the inevitable. Don’t try to force a friendship or nourish hope in order to soften the blow. Exercise the most emotional maturity that you can and resist the urge to post about your uncoupling on social media in order to garner sympathy from others. Have integrity and allow your breakup to be what it is without adding insult to injury.

2. Feel it

“So many of us find ourselves saying, “but he was so great!” Yes, and the people who got on the Titanic thought they were going on vacation. Things changed and it’s important to remember that they did.” ― Greg Behrendt

When a relationship ends, the connection you both shared has died. It’s important to grieve the loss of your partner and the loss of who you were with your partner. Take the time to be upset, cry, journal, and take space. Create the distance - a frame of reference - between who you were in your relationship and who you are now that it’s over. But above all else, let the reality of the situation sink in.

It’s more than okay to be alone; get to know yourself again by investing in doing what you love and focusing on caring for yourself. Don’t let a breakup define you; this is only one facet of who you are, not all of it. You were okay before meeting this person and you’ll be okay in time after ending your relationship. But feeling hurt doesn’t serve as a justification for intentionally causing hurt.

3. Understand and Accept It

“It is impossible for you to go on as you were before, so you must go on as you never have.”

―Cheryl Strayed

Remember, if nothing ever changes, then nothing ever changes. It’s important to identify the lessons planted in your former relationship and then reconcile why it didn’t work out. What beliefs did you hold while you were together that led to the issues you had? How can you resolve these sources of conflict by taking responsibility for your part in them?

Breakdowns are breakthroughs in disguise; when things fall apart, they pave the way for us to foster resilience, find empowerment and reconnect with ourselves. Seek out therapy, ask for help, find support in reading or workshops and understand where it all fell apart. You have to understand the situation in order to come to terms with it, accept it and finally, move forward.

4. Let It Be and Let It Go

There is no “right” or “wrong” person, only someone who is right for you at the moment in order to teach you what we need to know. No relationship has “failed” once it’s finished, it’s only just run its course. If you can forgive yourself for doing the best you knew how to do at the time, then you can forgive your partner for doing the same. You are the company you keep, and the longer it takes for you to admit this to yourself, the longer it will take for you to come to forgiveness.

Moving forward doesn’t look like simply moving on to the next person, it looks like taking the time to heal and grow. A relationship that’s ended is an opportunity to become the partner you deserve moving forward. You attract who you are and you settle for what you think you deserve.

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” ― Buddah

Dr. Isabell Springer is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA.

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