When it comes to closing the door on our relationships, it can be hard to navigate our complex emotions and the ties we’ve built with other people. It’s necessary, though, to say goodbye to partners who are a poor fit or who are otherwise not complementary to where we’re going in life. Are you on the bring of saying goodbye to someone you love? There are some important pitfalls to avoid unless you want to make things even worse.
We all go through breakups.
Setting out in a new relationship, we never really plan for failure. Failure happens, though, and it’s up to us to figure out how to manage it. Even though we may love someone, we’re not always a great fit for one another romantically. When we realize this, it’s up to us to call it quits in the name of the greater good. That’s an uncomfortable process, though, and one which should be handled with grace.
Breaking up with someone is never fun, but it can get considerably worse when we come from a place of extreme emotion, resentment, or even poor thought. Breakups — like any other major life event — require planning and thinking through the pros and the cons of the action we want to take.
We can’t just react if we want to navigate a breakup like adults. We have to avoid things like forcing friendships too soon and creeping on social media for details we’re not ready to process. Your breakup can go smoothly, or it can go chaotically. The choice is ultimately up to you and the quality of action you decide to take in your life and that of your partner’s.
The 9 biggest breakup mistakes you keep making.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to end things with someone else. Whether you want to maintain a friendship later on down the road, or you just want to bring things to a close civilly — these are the breakup mistakes you should avoid unless you want to make everything that much worse.
Stalking social media
One of the most common mistakes made when it comes to breakups is that of social media creeping. If you’ve been through a breakup in the last 10 years, you’ve probably scrolled through the profile of an ex to see how they’ve moving on and who they’re moving on with. This is toxic and only brings on an array of negative feelings and “what if?” ideas that hinder your healing.
Being friends too soon
Forcing a friendship before you’re both healed and ready to move on is a horrible mistake that many people make when breaking up with a partner. When you get back into the flow of friendship, when you’re still pining for the comfort of your relationship, it creates a heady brew that confuses the feelings we’re trying to sort through and process.
While we should certainly provide our partners with closure when things end, that’s not always how the scenario pans out. Sometimes, people walk away and they don’t give us any solid reasons. Demanding closure — while potentially justified — isn’t helpful in the process. If they don’t give it to you, you have to find ways to make peace with moving on yourself.
Believing in eternal loneliness
A failed relationship is heart-shattering and a major life upset. It can be such a shakeup that we lose perspective and come to believe poisonous lies that alienate us from ourselves. One such lie is the loneliness trap. When you fall into this trap, you find yourself thinking things like, “I’ll be alone forever because this one relationship didn’t work out.” Not only is it untrue, it’s a major mistake that can push you right back into the arms of the wrong person.
Putting on rose-tinted goggles
Has your breakup forced you to think back to all the “good times” you had with your former partner? This is a big mistake to make, as it causes you to forget the bad times and all the struggling you did. Rather than dwelling only on all the fun you had with your partner — remember how they made you feel when you fought with them, or how they broke your heart with their lies and infidelity.
Falling into hysterics
Leaning into hysterics is never a good idea when it comes to breaking up with someone or being broken up with. While these are emotionally trying conversations and experiences to have, hysterics will only aggravate the situation and make it that much harder for us to find our peace. It’s important to retain a clear and logical mind when dealing with such a shift in your romantic partnerships and your life.
Allowing the backslide
Perhaps the worst mistake we can make when it comes to calling it quits is backsliding. Backsliding occurs when we go back to an ex, or allow ourselves to get physical even after breaking things off. This is dangerous, because it complicates our feelings and muddies the waters of decision making (which is absolutely crucial at this stage in any struggling relationship).
Kickstarting the rumor mill
When the breakup isn’t your idea, it can be tempting to seek revenge on the person who has hurt you. Rumor-mongering, though, is one of the worst things we can do to ourselves (let alone our former partner). By trying to destroy their lives, we actually end up destroying our own credibility. We can also come to resent ourselves and create a ton of unnecessary drama that only complicates an already complicated life.
Have you ever detonated your shared social circles after a breakup? Or gone out of your way to create lines that your friends had to choose a side on? It’s not fair to put our mutual loved ones in the middle that way, and it’s not fair to ask them to divide their loyalty. Rather than dividing the people we love, we should seek to leave our relationships out of the equation when it comes to retaining a connection with them.
How to go through healthier breakups.
When it’s time to end things, it’s important that we do with respect and consideration for everyone involved. Breakups are uncomfortable, and they’re painful too. It’s crucial that we close the door as carefully and as gently as possible unless we want to end up in the middle of an explosive mess.
1. Keep things private, not public
Once you’re ready to break it off with someone, you need to have enough respect to do it in person. You need to deliver your message face-to-face so that you’re sure there’s no misunderstanding with your message. You also need to give your partner a modicum of closure, and give yourself closure too by sharing that finality that comes with bringing your relationship to an end.
Find a safe space to sit your partner down in, and look for a calm time in which you’re both doing as well as can be expected emotionally. Make sure you’re in a place where you won’t be overheard and you won’t be interrupted. The more quiet and safe the space is, the easier it will be to open up with one another.
Don’t break up with someone in a public space. It won’t necessarily prevent a hysterical reaction, and it will expose them to humiliation which will make the situation that much worse. Have enough respect for one another to have such an emotional conversation in a private place. Don’t avoid sitting them down because you’re uncomfortable with the decision you’ve made.
2. Be direct but compassionate
Difficult conversations (like those surrounding a relationship breakdown) are always uncomfortable for everyone involved. Be that as it may, it’s important that you still focus on being honest, clear, and empathetic with each other so that you can get to a place where you’re both happy. Don’t mince words and don’t leave room for interpretation. If it’s over, let it be over and be frank with one another about the facts.
Once you’ve sat down and gotten comfortable in a space that feels safe for both of you, open up about how you’re feeling and how you want to proceed. Don’t blame your partner for anything and don’t call them out. They’ll have plenty of time to think about what went wrong on their end. Focus on your feelings and your perspective only.
Even if you’ve decided to call it quits based on their behavior (and the way it makes you feel) there’s no need to be cruel. Be empathetic and compassionate with your words. Imagine how you would feel on the other side of such a rejection and speak to your partner as if you were speaking to a heartbroken version of yourself. Stay strong and make sure that your words are chosen carefully.
3. Allow time to grieve and process
A breakup doesn’t end with the words, “It’s over.” Far from it, that’s only the first phase in a process that could collectively take a number of days or weeks. You didn’t get into your relationship overnight, and you probably won’t get out of it overnight (especially if you share things like children or mortgages). You need to give yourselves time to plan, process, and figure out what comes next.
Once the door has been opened, walk through it and give yourselves some spaceto breathe. Don’t rush into any hasty action. Lean into your personal space and reconnect with your support systems and the passions which return a sense of passion and excitement to you.
Don’t rush the next phase. There may be several more conversations which have to happen over the coming days and weeks in order to get everything sorted out. Process your feelings so that you can handle those conversations with maturity and with self-respect. Slowly readjust to the idea of being a single person whose life is totally unincumbered.
4. Respectfully severe all contact
Even if you and your partner leave things on good terms, it’s important that you sever contact for a while — so you can get a clean break and therefore a clean heal. Learning how to live outside of a relationship can be tricky. Our feelings are raw, delicate, and easy to manipulate. Keeping close to your former partner only muddies these waters and makes it even more difficult. Cutting all contact is the only way to make a clean start of things.
Although you may still love one another and crave one another’s attention, you need to give your minds (and your bodies) time to process and detach themselves. You’ve grown used to having the other person around — for better or for worse — and you’re still going to crave that presence.
Stay strong. Going back to something which doesn’t work only sets you back on your timeline to be happy. Give yourselves some space and use that space to heal and re-acclimatize to what life means on your own. Cut all contact. Stop following each other on Instagram; don’t go creeping on their Facebook page. Hit the reset button on your connection with one another and wait to re-build until you’re both a little more clear-headed and established in your new lives.
5. Avoid the temptation to backslide
Hands down, backsliding is one of the worst things you can do when it comes to ending a relationship. When you get back into bed with someone you’ve called it quits with, you reopen emotional channels and all the old memories that come with it. This creates complicated situations, complicated expectations, and twisted and warped perspectives of what’s really going on.
Stop making things harder than they have to be. Put walls up where the doors used to be and stop going back to something that doesn’t work just because it’s convenient or it’s comfortable.
There is someone special out there waiting for you (if that’s what you want). They can’t come into your life, though, until you manually make room for them. Running back to a toxic partnership is not creating that space. It’s building barriers around your hope, your happiness, and your future. Don’t get in the way of your own happiness by settling for someone you’ve already said goodbye to.
Putting it all together…
There’s a right way to break up with someone and a wrong way to break up with someone. When we lean into hysterics, or turn our collapse into a public affair, we end up with bigger messes and complex negative emotions that have the power to undo all our happiness. Avoid the mistakes and discover a better way to call it quits once you’ve realized that things are no longer working.
When it’s time to end your relationship, have enough respect for the other person to do it in person. Don’t, however, humiliate them by doing it in public or in front of people that you both know. This is a private affair. Keep it that way. Tell them how you feel, but do so with kindness and with empathy. Breakups are painful for all involved, do it as gently as you can, but we candid and honest about how you feel and what you want (without blaming the other person).Once you’ve both said what you need to say, give yourselves time to process. When you’re ready, cut ties and move on from one another completely. Leave lots of space in which you can heal before making contact or attempting friendship. Above all else, though, don’t let yourselves backslide. Finding the right partner requires us to make room for them. Stay strong and don’t go back to comfortable things that are all wrong for your happiness.