GOOD GOODBYES Breaking up is hard to do, but honesty and compassion help.
How to end a relationship well
Being the one to end a relationship is not easy. It is not normally a decision that has been come to lightly. Have you ever noticed that there isn’t much said about how to end a relationship well and with integrity? It is usually assumed that all breakups will be messy and stressful, but there are steps that you can take to minimise these negatives for both you and your partner.
Weigh it up
First off, you need to assess if the relationship you are in is one you want to continue with or not. It’s important to be realistic. Don’t dismiss situations or attitudes that are hurting you. Think carefully about what you really want out of a relationship and see if those needs are being met within your current relationship.
If you’re clear on the reasons why you are unhappy in a relationship, you can decide whether its possible to salvage it with your partner or whether it’s even worth trying to find a solution. For example, if the problem is that you argue a lot with each other, maybe it is possible to resolve the conflicts with a bit of work on communication. However, if your partner cheated on you, you’d need to be very sure that you’re able to forgive and let it go if the relationship is to survive – because if not, there will be further conflict in the future.
It can be helpful to think about what you’d lose or gain from either staying together or ending the relationship. Make a list if it helps. But most importantly, listen to how you feel, especially to what your heart and intuition are telling you. They’re often right.
Remember breaking up does not mean you have failed. And it definitely does not mean you are unworthy of a healthy, supportive relationship in the future. There doesn’t have to be a ‘bad guy’ in a breakup.
Even while breaking up it is important to honour each other and the time you’ve had together. Your ex-partner may be your greatest teacher. They may be showing you the places you have to heal and the areas you need to take responsibility for, so that things can be different in future relationships.
Throughout the whole process it is important to show yourself compassion. Self-compassion includes telling yourself that you’re not a horrible person for breaking up with someone and that many other people go through this kind of thing too. It also involves caring for yourself, like a parent would for a child or a friend would do for a friend.
And this includes not staying in a relationship that’s hurting you.
Ending a relationship can be painful and a struggle and it’s not easy to do it alone. It’s important to have a good support team to keep you on track, to help you fill your life with healthy, positive activities and to remind you that you are a good person. Treating yourself well after a breakup regardless of whether you were the one to end it, is a must.
Yes, time can help heal the emotional wounds but you can help speed up this process by taking ownership over your own health and wellbeing.
Reach out to a counsellor if you want further support.
For more on ending relationships see ‘How to handle a break-up’ on ie.reachout.com; ‘Relationship & family breakdown or problems’ on yourmentalhealth.ie and ‘Combatting insecurities in your relationship’ on mymind.org.