14 Ways To Break Up Better and Minimise The Pain

Ways To Break Up Better

Breakups are always tough, and hard to deal with. However, if YOU are ending the relationship, then there are certain things you can do, to break up better.

When a relationship ends, everybody hurts. Most conspicuously, the partner who’s been broken up with experiences the sudden shock and loss of the end of the relationship. But the one doing the breaking up isn’t immune to pain, either.

There’s a great deal of advice on the Internet about how to survive a bad breakup, but comparatively little about how to end a relationship as gently as possible. It may be impossible to get through a breakup without hurting your partner, but there are a few clear choices you can make to mitigate this pain.

First, when contemplating a breakup, one needs to recognize that an effective end to the relationship is not the only thing at stake. If you’ve spent enough time in the company of another person — if you’ve shared feelings and physical or emotional intimacy — you’ll need to consolidate positive memories of the relationship as you move forward with your life. You’ll want to accept the reasons the relationship didn’t work while retaining the ability to look back on it with warmth.

The person you’re breaking up with deserves the same and will need to experience the breakup in a way that doesn’t overwhelm their good memories. Your goal, in breaking up with him or her as gently as possible, is to acknowledge the parts of the relationship that were good and validate those experiences: It wouldn’t be fair to cast a pall over those memories by ending the relationship in a hurtful way or by “ghosting” a partner.

So although everyone gets hurt when a relationship dies, your intention in taking steps to end it should be to minimize the damage caused by the crash.

In planning to break up with someone, you’ll go through a fair amount of distress yourself. Depending on how long you’ve anticipated the breakup, you’ll likely experience some form of anxiety or dread as you look ahead to taking unpleasant steps. You may not feel supported by friends or family as you carry out the breakup, either: Typically, the dump-ee retains the sympathy of the social group, while the person ending the relationship is seen as needing less support.

You can expect to feel guilt in the period leading up to the breakup and afterward. It’s common to find yourself wishing you could end the relationship without causing pain, even if you know that’s not possible. Lastly, you will probably go through your own (very necessary) feelings of grief over the end of the relationship, and it can be difficult to process this sense of loss while simultaneously blaming yourself.

When all is said and done, though, when you need to break up, there are certain guidelines to follow to minimize pain on both sides. Some may seem as if they’ll make a difficult situation even harder, but in the end, if you do what’s recommended here, and avoid what’s discouraged, you and your ex may be able to look back on the breakup with dignity, resolve, and clarity.

Related: 10 Signs He Is Ready To Break Up With You

Here Are 14 Ways to Break Up Better

7 Things To Do

1. End the relationship as soon as you know it can’t go on. Putting off the inevitable will only cause the relationship to decline further.

2. Break up in person. It’s essential to be physically present to show that the relationship was important to you. Breakups by text may be common these days, but they hurt terribly and leave confusion in their wake.

3. Be honest about your feelings. It will hurt your partner more if you don’t acknowledge the real issues involved. (At the same time, it’s also important to recognize when too much honesty can be hurtful.)

4. Be clear and certain about your reasons for breaking up. Avoid vagueness. Show your partner the respect inherent in closure.

5. Take responsibility for your decision. Acknowledge that it’s what you want, rather than blaming it on circumstances, or on your partner.

6. Listen to the other person, without defending yourself. Hear your partner out. Answer any questions as honestly as you can.

7. Break off the relationship cleanly. Cut off contact for some time after the breakup, to show respect for your partner’s feelings, and to indicate that things have changed permanently.

Related: Breakup Guilt: How to Get Over and Move On?

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Loren Soeiro, Ph.D. ABPP

Dr. Soeiro is licensed as a psychologist in New York State and board-certified as an expert by the American Board of Professional Psychologists. He has been a fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology since 2013. He got his doctorate in clinical psychology from Long Island University after earning a bachelor’s degree at Harvard. After that, he worked for a long time at Montefiore Medical Center and as an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He has also written a little bit about psychotherapy on PsychCentral.com, GoodTherapy.org, and Psychology Today.View Author posts