An unfortunate part of dating is that breakups are common. As a dating coach, I remind clients that 99% of the time that you date, you may have a relationship with that person but they won’t become your spouse. It’s a hard thing to except that things will end, because many of us have had friends for 30 years and in dating you have to open yourself up with the likelihood that you’ll be rejected. However, you can learn from your dating experiences (however long) and you may even find that forever love.
But, for the sake of this article, let’s assume that you either want to break up with someone or that you were recently dumped. Although both are common, neither role is fun and the latter is probably most painful.
So, if you’ve just experienced a breakup, here are some tips you might find helpful:
Make time to grieve, cry, to go through old pictures and letters etcetera so those feelings don’t get stuck inside you. Allow the emotional energy to move through you and to fully release it.
Take great care of yourself. Get a massage, order in from your favorite place, buy yourself flowers and get extra sleep.
See if there are any lessons that will help you going forward. By ‘lessons’ I don’t mean blame. Lessons are helpful things that you can do differently going forward or things that you will now look for in your next partner that this last one didn’t have. The last thing you need when you’re down is to make it, ‘all your fault’ and to reject yourself in the process. So don’t do it. But sometimes looking for lessons can empower you to feel wiser in your next relationship.
Focus on things that are meaningful to you. If you like to paint or do collage, do that. Take a class on something that interests you or join a book club. Engaging in the world in a new way can connect you with different parts of yourself and other people.
Put a few people on speed dial. If you dated the person you just broke up with for a long time than you may be used to talking to him twice a day or letting him know right away when something great happens. This is a habit to break so you’ll need to retrain your brain to call your mom or best friend instead. Make some regular dates with friends too to get out regularly and have fun.
If you’re the one breaking up with somebody, there’s no easy way to do it. But here are a few tips:
Begin with something positive, like saying that you care about them, what you love about them or what you’ve learned from your time together.
Let them know that you’ve decided not to continue dating but you wanted to meet with them in person so that you could both get, ‘complete’ and would hopefully part on good terms. Let the other person ask you any questions or express feelings about it. This means you need to be able to remain in place if there are any tears or anger. The other person may not feel the same way as you do and may be shocked by your news and are processing their disappointment. It’s still better to break up in person than over the phone or via email, especially if you have been dating for a while.
RELATED: 9 Breakup Mistakes We All Make
Many people may want to know why you’ve made the decision to break up. Often you can keep it general and just say, ‘I just didn’t feel we would end up being good life partners,’ or something along those lines. If there is a specific reason that you want to share, you can do that but the ‘why’ probably isn’t as important as facing the truth of your decision and how you handle the parting, which is still part of your relationship with that person. Most people do not want to hurt anyone else or to leave them worse off for having known them. Do your best to be kind and to wish them well.
And here are some things not to do in a breakup:
Don’t put all their stuff in a box and drop it off with their doorman with a break-up note.
Don’t just stop calling and avoid them with no explanation.
Don’t cheat on them and let them find out through a friend.
Don’t be really passive-aggressive and act-out so that maybe they will just break up with you instead.
Don’t be lazy. Face the music and take the steps about how to break-up above instead.
Interestingly, a lot of breakups seem to happen over the upcoming holidays. A relationships survey conducted by Yahoo! Personals found that 50% of singles reassess their relationship status between the winter holidays and Valentine’s Day. Hopefully, this won’t happen to you but if it does, remember that endings and beginnings are part of the dating process so you aren’t alone, since it’s a part of dating. We can all practice learning to part gracefully, with sensitivity and love to self and others.