They say breaking up is hard to do, but, many people make it more difficult than it needs to be. One reason is that there are bound to be negative feelings, whether you are initiating the breakup or you are the target of it. Whether you have grown tired of your partner over a long period of time, or you realize something intolerable about them, such as infidelity, the breakup conversation is something most people dread. The prospect of breaking up has driven many otherwise sane people to talk to themselves in constant rehearsals of the breakup spiel. In some cases, being the breaker-upper can cause almost as much stress as the one who was dealt the shock of the unexpected breakup.
It might sound a bit callous to make such an analogy, but, breaking up can be like firing an employee. Anyone who has been fired or laid off by a truly decent boss knows that this can be done in a gentlemanly manner. Think about your experience, if you ever had the misfortune of being dismissed from a position in a way that preserves the dignity of everyone involved. You kind of knew what to expect from the tone of your bosses voice or reading between the lines of his email, and the meeting was mainly to get it over with and to wish each other success and part ways. While some firing sessions escalate into character assassinations and even yelling matches, most of the time managers are professional in the way they sever ties with an employee who just wasn’t working out for the company.
Spare yourself the drama
So, why can’t a breakup be more like being fired? After all, many people spend more time at their job than they do with their significant other and can have their emotions wrapped up in their work. Why do so many people remain rational in the prospect of terminating employment but not in ending a relationship? The truth is, not all firing sessions end peacefully. While there may be civility in a business setting, the person who was fired may have likely hit the bottle, or put a hole in a wall during their first solitary moment after being fired. However, if the newly dismissed employee does this, it is not the problem of the manager. The bosses severed ties and that is that. We can learn from this in the breakup scenario.
Cut ties for good
Break up like a boss and really mean it when you intend to break off ties with a significant other. Once you break up, you are no longer responsible for this other person. In fact, during the relationship you are not responsible for them because your partner is presumably an adult who can take care of her or himself. In a healthy relationship, you recognize the autonomy and dignity of the other individual, and the same should be true in the breakup. The person who is being let go is a grown-up and can somehow manage to live his or her life without you. You no longer need to be the center of their universe. They need to be the center of their own universe but give them space to realize this. The old cliché, “we can still be friends” has been disastrous for leaving loose ends which can breed false hopes and become a playing ground for the manipulations of a jilted lover. You don’t need to be friends and you don’t need to be enemies. You just need to cut ties for good.
Do it now
It’s not a question of being ruthless. It’s a question of being focused on what is good for you and your soon to be ex-partner. This is why it is essential not to let a relationship prolong its dysfunctionality, but, to avoid procrastination and pain by breaking up as soon as you realize it’s not working. If there is an unhealthy dynamic in a relationship, consider therapy. But, if this doesn’t work, don’t lie to yourself in the name of protecting the other person. If you are certain it is time to break up do not delay it, however, tempting it may be to avoid that unpleasant confrontation. Your partner will pick up on the distance you create, will ask what is wrong, and will do everything in their power to earn their way back into your good graces. This is something that they can use against you when you finally get around to breaking up, which may be when you simply can’t take it anymore. This is how drama ensues and how situations escalate into an intense confrontation that can lead to permanent enmity. The kindest thing you can do if you realize the relationship has gone sour is to end it as soon as you come to this realization and not to allow it to develop further.
Create a strategy
You need a game plan for a clean breakup. Once you’ve decided that you can’t delay the dreaded conversation, decide on the time and the place. Avoid a weekday when you have to work and may not be able to concentrate. However, shoot for the middle to the end of the weekend rather the beginning so that you are not pursued for two days by an angry ex-lover. Break up in public, but, in a private area of the restaurant where a few tears and pleading words are less likely to be noticed. Keep your manner almost professional and say it right out without disclaimers or apologies. Wish your former partner well and make an exit if you need to. Be prepared to block the partner on social media and be careful when answering the phone or checking your email. Remember that you do not need to respond at all, and the more emotional the plea, the more counterproductive it is to attempt a response, even a rational one.
A breakup isn’t easy, even for the one initiating the split. Even if you want out of the relationship, separating yourself from it can be extremely difficult. Especially if there are fond memories connected with the other person. It is possible to break up without the high drama and horrific fights, but one must be well-prepared and disciplined in their approach when breaking up in order to minimize the potential damage.