Breakups are hard, no matter the reason. Whether you’re in a toxic relationship or just aren’t ready for a monogamous one, it’s not an easy situation to put yourself in. It’s especially difficult when you actually like the person! Maybe you ignored initial red flags or are just better off as friends. Regardless of the circumstances, breakups are tough for everyone involved.
Here are 13 tips for making the best of a not-so-great situation:
1. Plan the Situation
Breakups are not something that you should just spring on your partner in passing or at an inopportune time. It’s important to choose a time when you can both say what’s on your mind and take as much time as needed. Don’t choose a short window, like a lunch break or in the morning before work. It’s also helpful to avoid public places since emotions are bound to run high.
2. Know What to Say
When you’re caught up in the moment or feeling nervous, you might fumble with your words or forget to make certain points. While you don’t need to prepare and memorize a script, it’s important to have an idea of what you want to say and how to deliver it as kindly as possible. Brainstorm ways to articulate your reasons for breaking up without putting all the fault or blame on your partner.
3. Break Up in Person
While it might be tempting to send a text or email, breakup conversations work best in person. It facilitates better communication and helps you avoid things being taken the wrong way. (Of course, long-distance might make this tricky.) Although it’s awkward, an in-person breakup shows respect for your partner.
4. Be Honest
When you’re breaking up with your partner, it’s incredibly important to be honest about your feelings and your reasons for ending the relationship. Candidly talking about your emotions and reasoning will create an honest dialogue between the two of you as you work through the breakup.
5. Prepare for Different Reactions
It’s really hard to know how your partner will react to a breakup. In a perfect world, they are on the same page or even relieved that you’re the one who finally decided to end things. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case. You might blindside your partner, to which they react with surprise, anger, confusion, or sadness. It’s best to try and prepare yourself for a range of reactions and think of ways to respond to each of the possibilities.
6. Get Straight to the Point
The best way to approach a breakup is like ripping off a bandaid — quick and to the point. Say what you need to say and allow your partner as much time as they need to respond. Breakups are uncomfortable and can be emotionally draining, so it’s helpful not to drag it out.
7. Don’t Decide on Friendship
This is often one of the hardest tips to follow, but it’s important not to make any decisions about the future of your relationship during a breakup. It might seem like a great idea to stay friends, and you might say it just to make them feel better, but it will just make things that much harder. Instead of trying to force a friendship, take some time apart. You can always reconnect down the road if it feels right.
8. Make a Plan for What to Do Afterward
There isn’t exactly a playbook for what to do after you break up, and your plans will be very different depending on the seriousness of your relationship. Regardless, you will need to make a plan with your partner for what to do now that the relationship is over. Do you need to grab your sweatshirt from their house? Do you need to talk about how you will break the news to friends and family? Are you currently living together and need to figure out your lease and future living arrangements? Talking through these kinds of things will ensure that you and your ex are on the same page, which will make recovering from the breakup much easier.
9. Don’t Stalk Your Ex on Social Media
Social media has definitely make breakups even harder. As tempting as it is to see what they’re up to, try your absolute best to avoid stalking. You might read too much into posts or, most likely, see something you don’t want to see. The best thing to do? Block them online until you’ve moved on.
10. Don’t Reach Out
In a moment of weakness, it might seem like a good idea to reach out to an ex and see how they’re doing — but don’t do it! Until the dust has settled, avoid making contact. It’s important to learn how to live separate lives, especially right after the breakup. Otherwise, things get messy, complicated, and create an unhealthy cycle of an off-and-on-again relationship.
11. Don’t Bad Mouth Your Ex
No matter how the breakup goes, it’s important to remember that you really liked your ex at one point in time. Try to avoid talking bad about them! It’s okay to be upset, especially if they did something to cause the breakup, but it’s best not to talk trash. While it might feel good, it can complicate your emotions, and your ex will more than likely found out what you said. (Ruining any chance of a potential reconciliation down the road.)
12. Don’t Hold On to Mementos
The best way to move on is to get rid of pictures, gifts, mementos, etc. when you’re going through a breakup. Having things around you that remind you of your ex will only make it harder to move on. There’s no need to trash them — just put them away until you’re ready to look back on them.
13. Accept That It’s Over
Once you breakup, you should commit to staying broken up. Most of the time the causes of your breakup will not change over time, even if you still really like the person. Have conviction in your decision to end things, and try not to second-guess yourself. It’s easy to believe you made a mistake while you’re missing them, but if you felt the need to end it, then it was for a good reason.
While there’s no easy way to break up with someone, there are steps you can take to soften the blow. By planning the right time, doing it in person, and being as kind as possible, you can avoid a messy breakup and leave the door open for friendship in the future.