Breakups can be hard, scary, and make you feel nervous. There are many reasons why people may want to break up, even if there is still love in the relationship. Couples may drift apart, feelings for one another can change, or maybe you don’t want the same thing anymore.
After getting to know each other, you might realize that your interests, values, and/or feelings are too different. Maybe you have decided that you do not want to be in a relationship anymore or you have started liking someone else. There may be unhealthy dynamics in the relationship. Whatever the reason, breakups can be painful.
Breaking Up With Someone
Before breaking up with someone, think through why you want to and what will be the best way to have the breakup. If you’re nervous or don’t want to hurt your partner’s feelings, you might try to avoid it for as long as you can, but that might end up hurting you and your partner more. Prolonging or avoiding the breakup will keep you both in a relationship where you are not fully happy or invested.
On the other hand, if you’re not sure how to do it or you’re upset, you might just go for it; which can cause a messy breakup. Having time to think about the breakup beforehand can help you think about what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it, and what to do if your partner gets upset. Think about the why, where, when, and how.
Why are you ending the relationship? It is helpful to have a clear answer to this question to avoid giving a misleading answer. Be clear with yourself and your partner about why the relationship is ending.
Pick a place that you feel safe and comfortable to have this conversation. You might want privacy for the conversation, or to try to avoid a place where friends would be around. Have a strategy on how to end the conversation or leave the space if your partner does not want to let you leave or end the conversation. You might have a friend or family member call and give you an excuse to leave, or schedule something after that you need to leave for.
However, if you are worried about your safety or scared your partner may harm you, it might not be a good idea to break up in person or in a private place. If you have trusted someone with information about your relationship and that you are ending it, you can bring them with you or have an exit plan. *Visit safety planning*
Pick a good time to talk and let them know you want to talk about something important. Pick a time where you are not rushing, but make a plan for how long you are going to stay and talk.
Try to be considerate about how you are going to break up with someone. Think about how your partner might feel during the breakup: surprised, sad, mad, or relieved? Think about how they will react to what you say and how you can deal with it. Be honest and have good intentions. Many people prefer a breakup in person, but it’s important to think about the pros and cons for your situation.
During the breakup, be clear about why you want to break up and that you are ending the relationship. Be mindful of your partner’s feelings. You might want to start with mentioning something you like about them or your time together. It’s okay to share that your intention is not to hurt them and to say something kind. Give the other person time to share how they feel and their thoughts. They may respond emotionally. Practice patience, but be firm with yourself on why you are breaking up. Even if the person is hurt by your decision, it is okay for you to make a decision that is right for you.
Being Broken Up With
There is a range of emotions you might feel when someone breaks up with you. You might feel surprised, hurt, angry, and even relieved. Whether you saw it coming or not, you might not feel prepared at that moment for the conversation. During the breakup try to listen and share your feelings.
During a breakup you might feel defensive or want to shut down. Try to listen to what the other person is sharing and why they want to end the relationship. You might not agree with the reason. Or if the breakup was caused by your own behavior, you might want to be forgiven and want the relationship to continue. However, you need to listen and respect the reason the other person is sharing.
Share Your Feelings.
It is okay to share how you feel during the breakup or your thoughts about the breakup. You might share that you feel sad or surprised, or you might share that you agree with them and feel similarly.
Respect the Breakup.
If you do not want the relationship to end, you might be thinking about ways that you can get the person to stay in the relationship. While it’s normal to feel that way, it is not okay to cross the boundaries that someone is trying to create with you. Even if you are upset about the breakup, the other person still has the right to do what they feel is right for them.
After the Breakup
Breakups can make us feel a range of emotions. For many, breakups make us feel sad, frustrated, upset, angry, and hurt. It may take some time to get over the ending of the relationship and that’s okay!
After a breakup it’s important to set time aside to care for yourself and your emotions. Here are some journal pages to help guide you through your breakup, the “Ending of It All” section of You and I: a teen’s guide to relationships
Surround yourself with people you can talk to who make you feel happy and like yourself. This might be a friend you trust, a family member, or anyone else you feel comfortable and safe with. Breakups can feel lonely, but that does not mean you are alone!
Come up with a list of ways to practice taking care of yourself and your feelings. An easy way to come up with a list is to think of things that you can do that make you feel good about yourself, that are calming, and that build your confidence. You can write positive things about yourself and tape them to the wall. You can set time aside to pamper yourself. Writing down your feelings in a journal is a great way to reflect and process your feelings and thoughts. Breakups can make us feel insecure or down, so practice things that lift you up.
You might want to reach out to an ex or they may be reaching out to you. You may be missing them, or you both may be missing parts of your relationship. And that is okay and normal!
When you want to reach out to your ex, stop, and think about how you can respect your ex’s space. That might be by not calling or texting them, not asking for favors, not seeking emotional support from them, and not checking up on their life through social media. If you know you do not want to get back together and reach out to them, they may be misled to think that you want to work things out.
If you feel your ex is not respecting your space after a breakup, you might need to have a conversation about the new boundaries you need them to follow. They might be calling or texting, showing up to your house or where they know you would be, trying to talk to you even when you have said you don’t want to. You can share that you need them to stop reaching out to you and that you need your own space to deal with the end of the relationship.
If your relationship was unhealthy or abusive, and you feel worried about your safety, you can find more information about a safety plan here * link to safety plans* or seek support from Day One.
If you were hurt by the end of your relationship or during the relationship, you might want to talk about those things with a friend or family member. It is okay to do so! But be mindful of how you talk about your ex or past relationship, and try not to gossip or speak badly about them.