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How to end your relationship
If you're wondering how to end your relationship in the most compassionate and painless way, I'm so glad you've found this page.
Just before we look at how we can prepare you for the break up, do be sure to check out Part 1 of this article first. On that page I've recommended some types of help you might want to think about getting before your relationship ends.
I'm assuming that you are ending a long-term relationship or marriage and that you will want to do it with care.
The first piece of advice I can give you is to make sure you're well prepared for that gut-wrenching conversation. So, here's what you should do...
That is: interdependencency v dependency
10 Steps to prepare for telling your partner that you want to break up
- Consider in advance what support you might need after the conversation
- Think through in advance what you're going to say; talk it over with a wise and trusted friend
- Prepare responses to all his/her potential reactions (your friends will help you brainstorm those)
- Arrange a time and place where you can talk in private
- Make sure that you're not going to be disturbed during the conversation
- Give no longer than a few hours' notice that you want to discuss something important - depending how much of a 'worrier' your partner generally is (don't let him or her sleep on it)
- Accept that your partner may express strong feelings - shout, cry, argue or run away
- Be prepared to listen and ‘sit with’ your partner’s distress; there's nothing else you can do at that particular time
- Resolve not to argue during the conversation
- Focus on your role and your contribution to the relationship, not on what he/she is or has done - this will only lead to further pleas and arguments
To help you out even more with 'the conversation', take a look at my pages on non-verbal communication so you can be even better prepared.
7 Tips for breaking up without causing a breakdown
- Set a realistic time limit if you anticipate an endless conversation
- Ask if he/she has an idea what this conversation is about - and be sure to listen to their reply
- Acknowledge simply if your partner already suspected it - or explain your reasons gently, slowly, but without endless explanations and justifications
- Repeat your reasons if necessary, be clear without too much expansion
- Allow time for him or her to cry, shout, go quiet or whatever.
- Do not expect them to think or react rationally (scary, isn't it!).
- Stay calm - do not start a row now, even if you feel angry and hurt Be kind and determined. Accept that nothing you can say will make it better, other than that you will ‘try again’.
How not to end a relationship
13 Mistakes you will want to avoid when ending your relationship
- Don’t end by leaving a message on an answer machine
- Don’t end the relationship during a telephone conversation
- Don’t let someone else pass the message on
- Don’t suddenly cut off all contact without giving an explanation
- Don’t become a pain in the hope that your partner will dump you
- Don’t start an affair - infidelity causes a very complicated ending
- Don’t be ‘unavailable’ if what you really need to do is end it
- Don’t avoid conversations about the state of your relationship
- Don’t finish a relationship in a public place, unless you feel unsafe (i.e. if you're in an abusive relationship)
- Don’t end it just before your partner has a public or social commitment
- Don’t tell other people of your intention to end the relationship before your partner knows
- Don’t expect an ending without causing any pain
- Don’t end in the middle of a row
- Don't give an ultimatum
- Don’t chicken out of ending, when you really know it is over
After a relationship ends
Should you stay in touch with your ex? Join me in Part 3 for advice on this tricky question...
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