Relationship advice: How to tactfully break up
In an ideal world, all relationships would last forever. In the real world, break-ups are inevitable. Here’s how to do it with grace.
The first thing that needs to be determined is “why”? Go over the relationship mentally and if need be, make a list of the pros and cons. If breaking up is indeed the best thing to do, proceed to the next step, which is determining the time and place.
This step is very crucial in a tactful break-up process. Despite what many say, breaking up in a public place is an absolute no-no. All big steps in a relationship should be taken in a private, non-threatening setting, where thoughts and emotions can be expressed openly.
Also, unless it is completely unavoidable, do not break up by e-mail, instant messenger or phone. It may be the electronic age, but some things still need to be done the old fashioned way, and this is one of them.
Once the setting and time has been chosen, determine exactly what is going to be said. A good approach is to start on a positive note, outlining all the good times had and things learned in the relationship. Move on to the negatives, but do it in a non-blaming way; just explain the facts. Finally, tell the person you wish to break up. At this point, give the other person a chance to speak.
It is only fair to allow for an emotional response, as most of the time, the other person is going to feel angry and rejected. Remain calm and let them express their feelings and thoughts. If the other person becomes threatening or violent in any way, leave immediately. Otherwise, wait for them to finish speaking and move ahead into the closing statement, which is nearly as crucial as the setting. The closing statement will be the last impression you make on the other person, so make it count.
Simply say: “We are both good people with great qualities, but it’s our interaction with each other that causes problems.” This will help to keep the other person from feeling that it is their fault the break up is taking place.
The next step is to determine whether or not the relationship will continue as a friendship or will end completely with no further contact. Under no circumstances should “let’s be friends” be uttered unless it is meant absolutely and agreed upon by both parties. If there is to be a switch to friendship, it’s best to spend some time apart first, to allow an adjustment period after the end of the romance. Ease into it slowly, see how comfortable it feels. Don’t do activities that are like dates. Respect that the other person may be dating others. Don’t hesitate to cut it off if it’s not working out. “No further contact” should mean exactly that. No phone calls, no letters, no e-mails, no dates and definitely no sex. If stalking becomes a problem, report it to the police and let them handle it. Do not confront your ex yourself.
When someone new comes into the picture, do not flaunt the new relationship to the old flame, as tempting as it may be. This is very disrespectful, regardless of the fact that the relationship is over. Don’t do it.
Breaking up is definitely one of life’s more traumatic events, but with a little forethought and consideration, it can be tactfully done.