We wrote an article a few weeks ago called "The Ten Worst Ways to Break Up With Someone," based on actual submissions from our BounceBack members, who have stories from their personal breakups and divorces that take the cake - literally. One member had her now-ex-boyfriend leave her on Valentine's Day and take her freshly baked "I Love You" cupcakes with him. Come on.
At multiple requests from our members and BounceBack community, we've been asked to follow-up that piece with "The Ten Best Ways to Break Up With Someone." The fact is, not every relationship works, and it's much better to end things than string someone along dishonestly and unfairly. However, when the decision is made and the time comes to split, there is definitely a way to do things right, just as there's a way to do things wrong.
If you aren't happy in your relationship and are planning on breaking things off, know that it's going to be tough. Here are 10 tips that will hopefully make this easier on you - and especially on the person whose heart you MAY be able to avoid completely breaking:
1. Be honest. Everyone has heard the same old clichéd lines before…"It's not you, it's me" is transparent and overdone. Nothing is worse than not knowing what the real reason was, even if it may hurt. Besides, Mark Twain said, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." It's just easier. And don't get caught in a lie - you'll just end up looking silly.
2. Do it in person. Breaking up with someone over email, on the phone (even worse, on a voicemail), or via text message may make things easier for you, but it certainly won't be easier on your ex. Try not to be selfish - show this person the respect that he or she deserves. The right thing to do may be the harder thing, but it's still the right thing.
3. Do it before you stray. Do you really want to be that person who had to resort to cheating in order to let your significant other know that it's over? We thought not. If you're even thinking about straying, go ahead and address the situation you're already in before trying to find the "next thing" (which, by the way, won't be starting off on the right foot either). Exploring your options may feel thrilling or dangerous now, but trust us, it will never outweigh the guilt you'll feel later.
4. Listen. Even if you don't want to, do it. Even if you don't want to hear what they're saying, try. Even if you don't care, listen to this person for this small, defined time slot of your life. If you're breaking their heart, they deserve to be heard for a few final minutes with you. Who knows, you may actually learn a few things about yourself and what you need to work on in your next relationship.
5. Do it in the right place. Translation: IN PRIVATE. Your soon-to-be-ex is already going to be heartbroken; please keep this from becoming the most embarrassing moment of their lives. No bars, no restaurants, no movie theatres, no parties. Think neutral: ideally a spot with no emotional attachment or nostalgia, and ideally a day/time/place where it's easy for them to hear what you have to say, react how they want to, and promptly and discreetly leave the situation.
6. Don't delay it. When it is over, it's over. You know it - so it's only fair to let your partner know as soon as you're sure. No one likes to be strung along. Don't think you're doing anyone any favors by delaying the inevitable.
7. Keep the Peace. Don't start a fight in hopes of lessening the guilt you may feel about breaking someone's heart. Know they'll be upset, so just stick to the end goal, which is to end things cleanly, fairly and honestly. Try not to make the other person suffer any more than necessary.
8. Give your future ex a say. As the heartbreaker, you're calling the shots, but you should respect how your ex wants to move forward. Ask them what they want - to have space, to be left alone, to consider future friendship. You owe them a say in the matter, and you should acknowledge, if not respect, their wishes.
9. Be Direct. Dancing around what you're trying to say will only open up the opportunity for debate - and worse, begging and pleading, which may lead you to second guess yourself. Be clear, thorough, and offer to answer any questions. Leave no room for guesswork, which can be painful for both parties involved.
10. Leave the scene. Once you've had this difficult conversation, honestly and directly, in the right place and time, with no fights, you're almost there. The aftermath is just as crucial as the actual breakup. Walk away. Let them be. Be an adult if you have an accidental run-in. And by all means, you made this bed, so be prepared to lie in it. Don't tease them about getting back together if you really have no intentions of doing so.
The most important rule in dealing with breaking up with someone is the time-honored "Golden Rule." Leave as you would like to be left. Being dumped is a terrible thing, and if it's never happened to you, consider yourself lucky. Try to think about how you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed - you'll end up with minimal regret and the ability to look back on the breakup and feel that you handled it in the best way you could.
BounceBack is changing the way people cope with heartbreak as a result of a breakup or divorce. BounceBack is a place to tell your story, get advice from experts, and share what you've learned with others in similar situations. We're here to remove the negative stigma around being heartbroken - this happens to everyone. And we believe everyone has the potential to bounce back to life and move forward. www.bouncebacktolife.com
BounceBack is conducting the 2010 Breakup Census. Stand up and be counted! Click here.
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