Breaking up with grace


July 07, 2013

Ending a relationship is a difficult task, so difficult we struggle and stumble and make a mess.

Sometimes the ending overshadows the positive memories of our relationships, and we are left with loss, anger and not able to acknowledge what was gained, what was learnt.

On the receiving end of the break up, it is just as hard. We all react differently to rejection, but we all feel terrible about it. Research has found it to be equivalent to deep physical pain.

Here are some tips how to improve in this difficult task.

If you are initiating the break-up

Take full responsibility:
Don’t try to provoke the other to break up with you. Be yourself and don’t create an act in which you will be remembered as someone who you are not.

Do it face-to-face:
Breaking up virtually seems easier but it does not provide closure. Be brave and develop strength by being assertive and clear while you discuss your desire to move on. Breaking-up remotely leave us in emotional limbo, where we don’t know what happened or why, making it so much more difficult to move forward. Face-to-face interaction provides instant comfort and response; it has a built-in consolation system that makes it easier, even if it seems harder.

Be quick and be honest:
Much like removing a band-aid, break ups benefit from swift and efficient action. Do not dwell on the subject or go into the details. Summarise and don’t get into insults. Be honest about your feelings and be respectful.

Avoid the clichés:
It is you who is breaking up, not anyone else. Don’t use a line from another person’s life.

Move on:
Try to make a clean break, shifting and intimate exclusive relationship into a friendship is extremely difficult and tends to start a cycle that does not allow growth. Friends become friends with benefits and this cheapens the original relationship and might end up with people feeling used. Honour the relationship by giving it a clean break.

If you are on the receiving end

Don’t protest and act with dignity:
Try to listen to the reasons and grow from them, there is always something to be learnt.

Express your pain:
Don’t keep everything inside, let some of that pain show. But don’t get carried away, later you can find a safe and supportive place to fully express how you feel.