Ending a relationship can be hard no matter what end of the break-up you’re on. If you’re the one doing the breaking up, you want to be firm, but not hurtful. And if you’re being broken up with, it can sometimes be a bitter pill to swallow, especially if it’s come via text message.
Women’s Health contributor and psychologist Dr. Michelle Callahan discusses break-up etiquette and offers six steps for a clean and civilized break-up.
1. Think it through. Before you do anything, spend some time thinking things through to make sure that you are really ready to end the relationship. If you need to, give yourself some space from your partner
2. Do it in person. Don’t email or text–it’s insensitive and likely to make things escalate as your Ex pursues you in an attempt to be heard and acknowledged. If you’ve been in a relationship with this person, you owe them the opportunity to look you in the eye and discuss the ending of your relationship. If you’ve only been on a couple dates and didn’t get close but you want to let the other person know that you don’t want to continue dating you could let them know by phone or email. If you are concerned about your safety or violence, don’t deliver the bad news in person.
3. Stay calm. The other person might be really heated or upset about the breakup. Allow them to express themselves and try to end the conversation without getting emotional yourself so that you don’t argue and allow things to escalate. Don’t let your soon to be ex bait you into a big fight or violence.
4. Choose the time and place carefully. Be sensitive to the fact that there are times when bad news will hurt even more. Try to avoid breaking up around significant dates like birthdays and holidays (or after a layoff). Also find an appropriate place to talk where you can talk privately but where you can easily leave when you are ready. If you are concerned about your safety or violence, don’t deliver the bad news in person.
5. Prepare what you want to say in advance. Don’t wait until you are in front of the person to gather your thoughts, go in with the exact points you want to make prepared and ready in order to stay on track and get through the conversation. Be prepared to answer some questions. Your partner is probably going to have a lot of why’s and rebuttals. Think ahead about how you want to respond.
6. Resist the urge to maintain contact. If you want to make it clear to your partner (and yourself) that it’s over, you need to stop seeing and communicating with each other. Even if at some point down the line you maintain a “friendship,” right now you have to get a clean break to clearly establish that your romantic relationship has ended. Continuing to interact will only confuse things and extend the relationship out in spite of your conversation about ending it.
If you’re the one being broken up with:
1. Keep your emotions in check: As much as you might be hurt, try not to lose control and get hysterical with crying or anger. It’s natural to be upset but don’t lose your ability to communicate effectively.
2. Hear them out: Before you try to argue or disagree hear the person out so you can understand their perspective even if you don’t agree with it.
3. Have your say: Even though they’re breaking up with you, you still have a right to speak your mind and state your opinion and feelings about the relationship.
4. Don’t act desperate: Don’t make threats or be overly dramatic by refusing to allow the person to leave etc.
5. Agree to some space: Even if you don’t want to breakup, if your partner does, you need to allow them some space. The time apart will give you both the opportunity to reflect on the relationship