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Student Question - How should I break up with someone?

The saying is true - breaking up is definitely hard to do! We don’t want to hurt the other person, and we may be afraid of how they will react. This can trigger flight - fight - or freeze reactions in us. In other words, to avoid their reaction we may just choose to ‘ghost’ someone, or push them away, hoping they will choose to do the break up themselves, or we may do nothing, avoiding the inevitable, which just prolongs our stress. Or perhaps we may convince ourselves to hold onto hope that things will eventually turn around and get better; that we will be proven wrong and the relationship will work out.

If you, or those who truly care about you, recognize that your current relationship is unhealthy, or that breakup is for the best for whatever reason, here are some things to help you prepare to have that difficult conversation, and free yourself to move forward in growth and health:

  1. Consider what you would want if the roles were reversed. We all want honesty and respect. If you wouldn’t want to get a breakup text - then don’t do it to someone else (i.e. treat others the way you want to be treated).

  2. Plan for safety. If your partner has ever threatened or harmed you, ask yourself - what could be a safe setting for this conversation to happen? Then tell close friends and family about your plan so they can support you.

  3. Choose your timing so that your partner will be able to have time and space to process afterwards.

  4. Identify and own your reasons, and avoid the blame-game. Even if your reasons are based on their behaviour, it is healthy to learn how to express what you want and what you don’t want.

  5. Consider your reputation. I think most people want others to view them as kind, and the only way to accomplish that is to actually BE kind. So, while honest words are necessary, hurtful and cutting words are not, including posts via social media.

  6. Give each other space. Even if you both want to remain friends, you may need some time apart, particularly if you have had a lengthy or intimate relationship (e.g. unfollowing each other on social media to avoid being vulnerable). After you’ve had time to process what happened and how you feel about each other, you can work toward a platonic friendship if you both want that.

  7. Learn from your experience. Dating can help us discover who we are and what we want out of a relationship. We don’t need to try to ‘force’ something to fit. Learning what doesn’t fit you is a valuable lesson. Take it and move forward, appreciating that you know yourself better than you did before.

  8. Be hopeful about your future. Know your worth and pursue what you value, as you wait for someone who values you.

Photo by Trinity Kubassek from Pexels

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