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10 Essential Tips To Breaking Up Without Heartbreak

One is the loneliest number. But…when it’s not quite “right”, two can be the loneliest number after number one. There are a whole host of reasons people break up with each other. And the thing is, there are zero guarantees: you’re just as likely to break up after the first few dates as you are after a decade of “serial monogamy”.

man and woman breaking up on a bench
Breaking up with your partner is hard but you can make it less bad

But that doesn’t mean that you can, firstly, soften the blow and, secondly, keep both you and the other person’s dignity — and heart — in tact. There’s a saying that it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. Don’t put it off, don’t stall and don’t avoid confrontation. If you’ve been thinking about breaking up a relationship, take a deep breath.There is definitely a way to do this without heartbreak. Use these 10 tips as food for thought.

Don’t go Ghost Protocol

The first rule of dating, like Fight Club, is that you always, always, never, never, go “ghost” on someone. If you’re scratching your head, you’ve likely never heard the term...but you may be responsible for having done it before. It’s literally when you disappear on someone with no foretelling, no rhyme and no reasons given. You may not think you “owe” the opposite person a reason, and perhaps it’s true — you don’t owe them an in-depth explanation of how you feel.

You may not need to justify yourself, depending on how long the “relationship” has gone on. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be empathetic to the confusion a disappearance from you might produce in their life. If you feel someone owes you an explanation... do the dignified thing and explain yourself.

Be Frank

Which leads to the next point: how frank should you be when giving a reason for breaking it off? Well, this really depends on two things: how sensitive you’ve sussed out your beau to be and how long the relationship has really lasted. If it’s a first couple of dates, you can always say something like, “I had a wonderful couple of nights with you. But I don’t see long term compatibility”. That’s as frank as it gets.

Or else, you can play it more subtly: “I’d love to see that movie too. I’m going with a couple of friends. Shall we meet you there?” Sometimes, men don’t like women to be as blunt with them as women say they wish men would be with them. They’re prone to say things like, “I don’t think this will go anywhere” which just makes men feel rejected.

So play it cool and read the situation well. Less is sometimes more.

Don’t play mind games

A little game-and-chase when you first get started is par for the course. It builds up sexual intrigue and is a kind of sustained and prolonged foreplay. But when you know if your heart it’s time to call it quits, don’t string them along. Don’t say one thing and do it’s opposite. Don’t stand them up or generally put them in any kind of confusion where they're doubting your words or intentions.

At the end of the day, your not breaking their heart is actually all about you. In 10 years, if you’ll look back in regret at how you handled the situation then that’s the wrong thing to do. You want to keep their heart intact so you can walk away with your pride intact as well.

girl ripping a picture apart

No texting allowed

Leave all texting and social media by the wayside.

This is a big toughie for people who have broken up or who are just plain unsure if their break-up was the right thing to do. Ceasing contact is not only for your sanity, it’s to respect them. If you tell them you want to break-up and then keep texting them in the same sweet or intimate and familiar way you used to…they’ll never “get over” you and you’ll likely produce a pretty confused person.

Which leads back to the previous point: no mind games. You also want to stay off social media and resist the temptation to check up on their activities. Yes, you’re the one who broke up with them. But you’d be surprised how many “breakers” want to get back with “breakees” after seeing them living a great life in the wake of a broken relationship.

This piece of advice is for you too!

Find a reason why

The length of time determines the depth of your “reason why”. But there always has to be a reason why — even if you’re blunt about it and it is, indeed, that you “don’t see long term compatibility”. Generic reasoning like the previous example is fine when it comes to short-lived trysts and flings. But more serious and intimate dissolutions warrant and call for a breakdown of what’s going on.

It’s easier for both of you not to lay out every single qualm you had about the relationship. Instead, pick one “theme” and tie the rest of your reasoning around it. This could be something like, “I want to explore sexually but I don’t want an open relationship with you. If we were together, I want us to be monogamous. And I just don't think I can do that right now. It’s not fair to either of us.” It’s not ideal but it’s definitely a unified truth... and they won’t be thrilled but at least they’ll be able to heal because you’ve given them something to wrap their minds around. - A tangible reason.

Avoid talking about it

Here’s an interesting one that goes against the grain of a lot of break-up and post-break-up behaviour: when you’ve just dumped someone…avoid talking to your friends about it Avoid airing your laundry in public. This doesn’t mean keep your emotions bottled. It means take the time to honour what you had and just sit with the new reality you’ve created by asking someone to walk away…or asking someone to let you walk away.

Also, if you ever hope to have even a slight possibility of friendship with this person in the future, don’t go talking them down — or even up! — to anyone outside of the two of you.

Do it in person

There is something dignified and honest, truthful and trustworthy about having the guts to show up in person and be willing to tell them, to their face, the content of your feelings. So many people avoid confrontation like the plague not because they’re scared of themselves but they’re scared of seeing that they can have the power to hurt or heal someone.

It’s important to know that, if you’re breaking up for the “right” reasons — compatibility, long term life goals, lack of sexual chemistry, cultural differences that just cause conflict, or, worse, some form of emotional or verbal abuse — then you are completely justified.

Actually, however you feel is always justified…because if you’re honest with yourself, you can’t change the way you feel. But being firm can come with being kind and gentle too. Have the courage to meet them in person. You may be able to even end it with hugs, despite the tears and that’s something special.

girl in underwear on her phone next to a man in bed
Sometimes it is better to break up than constantly being mad

Privacy is the best policy

Don’t do it in public. Don’t do it in a park, a beach or some special place that had some kind of significance for you. Besides simply wanting to be alone and not overheard, if they were emotionally attached to you, they’re likely going to want to curl up and cry. So give them familiarity and comfort. Do it at their place or yours. But keep it private.

Picture their protests

Part of breaking up with someone sans heartbreak is being able to communicate without finger-pointing, blaming and general conflict. If you’re planning to break up with someone, you’re obviously planning to have a difficult conversation. So there’s nothing wrong in enumerating your reasoning to yourself. Surely, they will protest and counterpoint.

Standing your ground means that you’ve anticipated all the ways they conversation might go or the justifications they might give. If you’re not willing to be swayed (and you’re not using a “break up” as a threat — which is a bad idea in and of itself) then play out the conversation in your head.

Acknowledge your part

To break up without at least some heartbreak is completely doable. How? It’s tied into breaking up with dignity and respect. If you can keep respect in tact, somehow, you can end the relationship without the prospect of future bitterness.

See, if you follow these 9 tips while acknowledging your own part in it, you leave your partner with anguish, sure, but not anger. They may look back in loss but they’ll never look back with a wish that a hole opens in the earth and you die.

So much of healing from a break up comes from being able to understand and contextualize why it all happened. If you can be humble and speak to your part, you will soften their hurt and their heart.

You’ll give them — and yourself — a chance to move on with their hope for a new love still intact. And that’s worth something.

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