Here’s How to Break up With Someone the Right Way
“Breakin’ up is hard to do” may be the refrain from an old song, but the statement itself is far from vintage. No matter how you look at it, dissolving a relationship is messy business, and thanks to more high-tech modern dating frustrations like breadcrumbing and ghosting, the process has become even more crummy. We didn’t think that was possible! All social-media-age relationship fouls aside, breakups are still fundamentally the same as they’ve always been — or, at least, they should be. An entirely new slang language may have emerged in recent years around carelessly abandoning love interests, but who wants to stoop to that level? Not us! We want to leave our relationships the same way we entered them — as fierce, honest, thoughtful ladies who go high when others go low. (We heard ya, FLOTUS!) Adulting FTW.
Etiquette expert and author Sharon Schweitzer is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to breaking up the “right” way, which she describes as “a sensitive matter” that “needs to be treated with respect.” She continues, “Remember, this person is someone you care about, even if it’s not in the same way anymore. Take the time to think about what you want to say, and create a plan to make this split as simple as possible.” Here are a few of the details you may want to think through when creating a plan to end your relationship like a (kind, caring) boss.
1. Timing: Don’t fall prey to the temptations of the digital age and attempt to make the split via text — or even a phone call. Breakups should happen face-to-face. “Without face-to-face communication, non-verbal cues can’t be understood,” Schweitzer explains. Don’t give your soon-to-be ex the opportunity to misinterpret what you’re saying through a screen. Set a time limit for the in-person conversation to avoid the discussion spiraling out of control.
2. Setting: Just like in real estate, a major consideration in ending a relationship is location, location, location. Choose a quiet location where you both can talk and be heard (yes, that’s right, both of you). Avoid emotionally significant locations like your go-to date spot or the place where you first said “I love you.” (Did we really have to say that?) Save yourself the additional wear and tear of an awkward post-breakup car ride by meeting on-site instead of traveling together.
3. Fair Warning: In some cases, it may be smart to give your current bae a heads-up that a big conversation is around the corner. “You know the relationship better than anyone else, and [you know] how they’ll react,” Schweitzer points out. “You may want to let them know in advance that you need to have a serious discussion. If you think it is best to wait until you meet face-to-face, then do so.”
4. Verbal Language: Resist the urge to either get nasty or pull your punches, as much as you might want to. When it’s time to share your reasons for breaking up, Schweitzer recommends a combo of kindness and honesty. Just as you don’t want to be mean, you’d regret being “too nice” as well. Avoid reflecting on the “good old days” of your relationship or statements like, “You are the best love I ever had, and I’ll never find a person like you.” Language like this could cause misgivings and leave the door slightly ajar for your ex to question your intentions.
5. Body Language: The typical rules for confrontational conversations apply here. Don’t cross your arms or keep your hands tucked in your pockets — but keep a healthy distance too. “You shouldn’t touch as much as normal nor stand as close as usual,” Schweitzer advises. “That doesn’t mean you have to be a rigid statue. Respect the other’s space and read the situation.”
6. Follow-Up: “Just because you broke up doesn’t mean the emotional attachment ends at that exact moment,” Schweitzer admits. Find a solid support group to help you weather the challenging days after the split, and respect your ex’s need to do the same by not demonizing them to others (unless there’s genuinely abusive behavior to disclose, of course). If you need to grab your stuff from their place, keep things neutral and polite. Set a date and time, and consider bringing a friend along to help mediate tension and make sure you and your things make it out with minimal drama.
“It can be difficult to break up ‘like an adult,'” Schweitzer agrees. “The most important thing to remember is to go through the situation with a clear and open mindset so that both parties can walk away with experience in emotionally taxing situations, grow in maturity, and still have mutual respect for one another.”
What other tips do you have for breaking up the “right” way? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)