How to end a relationship like a grown-up
There can come a time when we realise that our relationship is just not working out and we want to end it. Doing it the right way will minimise the hurt on both sides, here are some simple guidelines that may help
Do it face to face
However tempting it may be to send an email or text this is the worst possible way to end a relationship. Often we want to text or email because we don’t want to have to face the emotional response of the other person but by avoiding that we deprive both them, and us, of the opportunity to learn valuable lessons about ourselves that we can take into our next relationship.
Even if the relationship was only short-lived the other person deserves a face to face explanation of our reasons for not taking it further. If it is a long-distance relationship and face to face communication isn’t possible use your usual form of close communication like Skype or phone.
It is important before you end a relationship that you really understand the reasons why before you try to tell the other person. Talk it through with a friend or write it down so you are really clear in your own mind.
Is it that your feelings have changed towards the person? If so look at the reasons for the change and take responsibility for your own behaviours and actions. Sometimes when we are going off the boil in a relationship it is very easy to focus on the other person and find lots of little reasons we could use to justify the end of the relationship when the honest reason may be that we have lost interest, shut down or been attracted to someone else. As humbling as it can be to admit that we have changed our minds it is far better than launching into a hurtful character assassination of the other person.
Is it because of something the other person has done or not done? If so have you talked to them about it and given them the chance to explain or rectify the situation? Is it a quality or personality trait the other person has that irritates or annoys you and you just can’t get over? If so it could be really useful for them to know especially if it is something they could work on so it doesn’t affect future relationships.
Most important of all is that you are honest about whether you really want the relationship to end rather than just to change. People who are in relationships that are continually on and off feel very insecure and find it more difficult to make long term plans and commitments. If you say it make sure you mean it.
Give positive feedback too
When having this difficult conversation remember as well as giving the reasons for your decision to end it also acknowledge the things that went well between you. Psychologists say that we can take on board negative information more readily if it is accompanied by a positive comment; if it is all negative it feels like an attack and we become defensive. Acknowledge the good qualities in the other person and aspects of the relationship that did work or were enjoyable. However, be careful that you don’t give mixed messages and make it very clear it is still over.
Do it calmly – the three day rule
It is easy to dump someone in the heat of the moment when our emotions are heightened and we are hurt, angry and upset but this is not the time to make that decision. As difficult as it may seem it is a good idea to make a pact to always give yourselves a three day cool off period before you finally decide to split. Use this time to reflect, not just on your partner’s behaviour but also on your own, and decide what action you need to take.
Some people say that a relationship is over just to prompt a reaction in the other person. Don’t play emotional games. If you say it is over make sure you really mean that and be prepared to never see that person again. You may feel that you could still stay friends but that is often too painful for some people and gives them false hope that you will get back together.
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