When watching the movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, one of the voiceover comments by Helen in her diary readings says something along the lines of the fact that a few months of going through a divorce can make you go through as many emotions as 18 years of marriage. It’s true that a breakup brings out all the emotions of a relationship and then some. There truly is no right way to go through a breakup, but there are ways you can go through one making it a bit easier on all involved.
First, I am an advocate for discussing possible breakups while still happy in the relationship. This is similar in concept to a pre-nuptial agreement, but I think it makes logical sense. Discuss with each other, when not wrapped up in anger or frustration or pain and disappointment, about what you want to happen should the relationship come to an end, for whatever reason. I know it’s not romantic to think about it, but it does help should the worst ever happen and the relationship does end.
I’ve watched many friends and family members go through break ups over the years, and I myself have gone through my share. Until recently, I could honestly say I was able to maintain some sort of friendship with everyone I once dated, and I attribute this to the fact that I learned a long time ago not to make a break up ugly. There’s really no reason for it to be ugly.
Think of it this way – if you are the one wanting out of the relationship, it’s simple enough to tell the other person you want out, without having to rehash all of their negative qualities in the process. You once loved or cared for them enough to want to date them, so when it comes time to end the relationship, you truly should love and care for them enough to leave them the right way. Trying to make them look bad at this point is rather pointless, and it only ends up leaving the other person hurt even more. There’s no need for this.
If you are the one who didn’t want the relationship to end, think of it this way – do you really want to be with someone who obviously doesn’t want to be with you? There will be someone out there who will love you just as you are, so don’t try to change yourself or make grandiose promises to the keep the departing partner in the relationship. No one will be happy if you do.
So here’s my list for how to handle a break up.
If you are the one breaking up:
Don’t cheat and use the person you are cheating with as an excuse for leaving. There is no excuse for beginning a relationship before ending the one you are in. Love the person you once shared your life and relationship with enough to be fair to them and leave the relationship before finding someone else.
Don’t use tired lines to explain the break up. “It’s not you, it’s me,” or “You’re too good for me,” won’t make anything better. It’s okay to be honest about why you are leaving, without being cruel. The fair and right thing to do is tell the truth, and be firm about your decision.
When the time comes to actually break up with someone, be sure you truly have discussed your problems and issues about why you are wanting to leave the relationship before you actually break up. It’s not fair to come to someone once you are already leaving and then tell them what’s been wrong. Tell them before you leave, discuss it, and try to work through the issues first, and then and only then should you end the relationship if it doesn’t work. Relationships aren’t disposable and neither are people. Some of the best and longest lasting relationships in the world went through periods of adjustment and hard times, but the one thing that held true was they two worked through the issues together.
Don’t run away… that is, don’t just move out and not give the other the courtesy of telling them you are leaving. Don’t just stop taking their phone calls or change your number. Unless the other person is truly stalking you, you owe it to them and your relationship to actually stand in front of them and care enough about their feelings to let them know you want to end the relationship. The pain of a relationship ending is bad enough without not knowing why the relationship ended, or even if it truly did end.
Treat the other person with respect and understand that while you probably have known you were going to end things for some time, they may not have known this. It will take some time before the reality of it sinks in and the other person comes to accept what has happened. Don’t be a jerk and shut them off completely. Give them a few days and be willing to talk to them about the break up until they are able to accept that it truly is over. Be firm, but gentle.
Don’t lie to the other person about why you are leaving. This is tempting to do in order to spare feelings, but in the end, you’ll probably be found out, so the best line of action is to tell the truth, as gently as possible. There’s no need to be ugly or bash the other person, but it is okay to explain the reasons why you no longer want to be in the relationship.
If you are the one on the receiving end of a break up:
It’s okay to be emotionally and talk about how you feel. It’s okay to suggest to the other person that you’d like a chance to repair the problem, but if the other person is adamant about leaving, don’t beg them to stay. You don’t truly want to be with someone who doesn’t truly want to be with you. Let them go with love.
Don’t bring up every bad thing that ever happened in the relationship or try to bash the other person because they want to leave now. Prior to being told they wanted to end the relationship, you still loved or cared about them, so don’t let your pride get in the way of letting them go with the love and caring you felt.
Be fair and reasonable and know that if the other person doesn’t want to be with you anymore, that the relationship actually is over, even if you still have feelings. Don’t make it harder on yourself or them by causing a scene or laying guilt trips. It’s okay to be emotional and talk about how you feel, but it’s not okay to say they destroyed your life or you will never love again because of them. They are not responsible for your feelings or your happiness, you are. Don’t give someone else that much control over you, especially if they are wanting out of the relationship.
For both parties:
Don’t badmouth or trash the other or put them down to friends and family. Remember, you once loved and cared enough about that person to spend time with them and be in a relationship with them, so there is no reason to taint the good memories that are there and can be there for you in the future by making them out to be this horrible person, just because they decided to move on with their life without you.
Be fair about splitting up shared items. I know that you might think some little knick knack or personal item is important to you, but remember that the other person was once important to you too, and keep that in mind when dividing up who gets what.
Shouting, yelling and screaming, name calling and the like is not ever going to entice someone to stay or change their mind about the relationship. It only confirms that the relationship has some severe problems anyway. When it’s time for the relationship to end, let it end as peacefully as possible, and walk away with your pride, knowing you are a better person for having experienced the time with the other that you did.
Every person comes into our lives for a reason and there is something to be gained and learned from every relationship. Try to accept the knowledge, the learning, and the love that was once shared as part of what makes you a stronger and better person. Learn what you can from any mistakes you or the other person has made in the relationship and carry those lessons with you into the future.
There is something better waiting for you around the corner when you allow yourself to let go with love, and do the right thing by someone you once loved or cared enough for to share a part of your life with. Carry them in your heart and move on with your life, no matter whether you are the one leaving or the one being left. Eventually, the pain will heal itself and in time, you will be able to find your happiness again and share it with someone new when the time is right for you.