As the old song says, “Breaking up is hard to do.” But what can be really worse is the road to making that decision. We can drive ourselves nuts listening to what others say we “should” do, trying to sort out if we should move on or work on the relationship. While others certainly may be well-intentioned, they are not the ones in this particular relationship: you are. Going within to listen to that small, quiet inner voice allows you to make the choice that is right for you.
Spend some absolute quiet time either meditating, or praying, or just contemplating in nature. Turning down the din of daily life allows us to connect with our inner voice and is almost always right. It is not critical; if you hear disparaging comments, those are from some internalized beliefs others fed you. Your own inner voice is loving, positive, and on your side.
5 Tips for Navigating the Road to this Tough Decision:
1. What is your body telling you?
Are you able to look your partner in the face when communicating? Are you hunched over or crossing your arms over your chest or core? Does your voice change to a little girl’s or tween’s? Or do you clam up completely? Are you trying to talk yourself into this relationship? Are you regressing in it, tolerating it, or growing in it?
2. Make a list of what is working in the relationship and what is not working.
Love and lust are great, but there are many other factors that make a relationship untenable. Quite frankly, sometimes love is just not enough. Take some time to ask yourself if you share enough of the same goals and want the same style of relationship (marriage, monogamy, living together, committed but living separately, polyamory, etc.). Are you able to talk about sex and money, or do you consistently avoid these because you can’t agree or compromise?
3. There are no absolutes, no guarantees.
It sucks, I know, but it is helpful to accept that there may be some regret later. Making a choice is not a guarantee. As well, know that there is a great tendency to idealize a past relationship.
Even though you feel you are making the right decision to move on now and end this relationship, you may have some “shoulda woulda coulda” down the road. It helps to offset this natural dynamic of idealizing the past with journaling for your future self as a gentle reminder of your very real concerns and reasons for moving on, or that yes, he wasn’t a monster, but some of your basic needs and wants were not met. It is OK to have several feelings at once. We can know we are making the right move yet still feel sad, doubtful, guilty, etc. Relationship endings for any reason are one of life’s biggest stressors.
4. Check your history: it can e your best teacher.
Read BAD BOYFRIENDS by Jeb Kinnison or ATTACHED by Levine and Heller to determine your intimate attachment style and if you keep dating the same person over and over again. Perhaps you are consistent, albeit unconsciously, dating your father or your mother? Knowing your attachment style can help you break any unhealthy relationship patterns.
5. Be classy.
The way you end anything (a job, a relationship, a friendship) is an indicator of how you will begin the next thing. If, after giving yourself time to make a thoughtful decision, you do decide to move on, be honest with your soon-to-be-ex. Of course, if there is any fear on your part that they may harm you in any way, then choose a time and a place that is safe, and have a safety plan in place (i.e., have a friend know when and where you are having this conversation).
There is no need to read him/her their list of many faults and mistakes. You chose to be with them for some length of time and have some responsibility in that choice. But be classy when you end it.
How would you like someone to break up with you? While no one ever really likes to be broken up with, it does help if you simply state that while you’ve learned a great deal from this relationship, it is time to move on. Many people avoid this face to face or pull their hair out, trying to figure out what to say, trying to come up with some excuse.
Be honest. Usually, there is no need to give a specific reason. Simply state: “I wish I felt the same as you and/or the way I did at the beginning of this relationship, and I just don’t. We are just not a ‘fit.’”
Take your time coming to this decision, and be very self-loving. Reward yourself in some way (fresh flowers, massage, etc.) for doing something that really is hard. Then find some way to celebrate with friends or siblings just being you for a while, trusting the next relationship will be healthier because of your self-acceptance.