Two of the hardest things to do in life are to make the decision to break up with someone, and to actually make that break.
Once you have made your decision to end a relationship, or you have accepted the finality of the other’s decision to end the relationship, you have passed an important and very difficult milestone, but the process of breaking up is also very challenging and very emotionally charged.
1. Don’t Look Back
Let the past be the past. Everything that happened – both the good and the bad – is over and done with. There is no benefit is indulging in grinding anger, unsettling regret, or soulful reminiscence. Try to focus all your attention on the issues of the present and the great possibilities for your own future.
2. Try Not to get Angry
During the breakup, the two of you are almost certain to see many issues differently. You wouldn’t be breaking up unless you had serious issues to begin with, and the breaking up period amplifies all those emotions. However, you do have one huge advantage during this period as compared to while you were trying to make a go of things. Now you have no reason you have to agree. To a large extent, it really doesn’t matter what the other thinks or says. If the other says something infuriating, just let it go. It is only their opinion anyway, and you won’t have to be around them in the future. Just let the unkind remarks pass and move on.
3. Be Kind, But Don’t be a Doormat
Do try to be kind. This isn’t easy for the other person either. There is no reason to attack them – whatever they did or failed to do in the past. But don’t be a doormat. Being kind shouldn’t extend to letting them walk over you. Demand, kindly yet firmly, what you need to move forward. Make sure you take what is yours, but don’t do anything that feels like, or could be viewed as, revenge. Be done; be kind; move on quickly.
4. Don’t be Intimate
The best way to make a real mess of your life, to totally confuse your emotions, and to bewilder the person you are breaking up with, is to have sex while you are breaking up. Once you have made the decision to end the relationship, don’t confuse yourself and the other. Move on with the break up and with your life in as objective a manner as you can.
5. Let Your Friends Support You
You don’t have to do this alone. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Tell your friends – your real friends – the objective facts about what happened. Ask for their emotional support, and their physical support if you need that. Don’t burden your friends with tales of woe, but do let them support you.
6. Avoid Regrets and Resentments
In your conversations with your friends, and especially in your own thoughts, avoid regrets and resentments. Better yet, avoid all conversations about the past. Attempt to assume the point of view that the two of you each did the best you could, that neither of you was wrong, and that you were just incompatible, learned a lot, and decided to move on. Depending on the actual circumstances, that perspective may be very close to objective reality, or it may be a huge stretch. Nonetheless, you will suffer the least during the breakup and afterward if you do sincerely attempt to adopt that point of view – not because it is “right” but because you will have to endure less pain.
7. Don’t Begin Another Relationship
There may be a temptation to begin another relationship even before this one is completely over. Having a new lover might appear to show your old lover that you really are valuable, or it might reassure your own self-esteem, or it might just be a distraction from the pain. Whatever the reason, Don’t Do It! You will really mess with your own emotions, and be highly unkind to your new lover, if you begin a new relationship now. Wait until this relationship is really over – and then wait another couple of months – before you even begin to look for a new relationship.
8. Don’t Try to be Friends – Usually
If you are supposed to become real friends after your relationship breaks up, you will know it in your heart of hearts. Unless you can say that you are best friends today, and you can both say with conviction that you are 100% sure that you want to be close friends going forward, just give up on the idea of being friends. Becoming good friends after a breakup is a very rare thing. Don’t try to force it to happen.
9. Keep Looking to the Future
Keep your focus on yourself, and on your future. Right now, nothing else matters. Spend time with your friends. Make new platonic friends of both genders. Be of service to those you know and to your community. Keeping busy, and avoiding regrets, resentments, and reminiscences, will get you through this.