It doesn’t matter if you’re the dumper or the dumpee; breaking up is hard to do. And if we’re honest, most of us aren’t very good at it.
The Kelleher International matchmakers believe in the importance of formulating a plan when it comes to making big relationship decisions. If you’re out of options and breaking up seems to be the right move, here’s a rough plan to help organize your thoughts and get your next steps in order.
Once you’re clear that breaking up is the best thing, it’s essential to work through the changes and challenges you’re facing. The more entangled your living situation, finances, and family, the more challenging it becomes to make a swift and clean break.
Work Through Logistics
Put pen to paper to get a clear visual of the big picture of shared financial responsibilities, assets, real estate, etc. Some couples are careful to keep “mine, yours, our” boundaries around money. But that’s rare in marriages, so a lot can be at stake if divorce is the ultimate decision.
“It’s not your responsibility to work out all of the details on your own. But going into the break-up conversation with eyes wide open is essential. The goal is to work through the details together, so strive for kind and compassionate communication,” explains Kelleher International CEO, Amber Kelleher-Andrews.
Breaking up will set off a chain reaction of emotions for you, your partner, and your inner circle. We recommend talking it through with your closest friend, who can provide a sounding board for you to test the words and ideas out loud. Sharing your truth will make them an even stronger support system if you decide breaking up is the answer.
Tune into your partner during this time of limbo – notice their habits and moods – do they seem checked-out, depressed, unsteady in your relationship? Or do they seem unaware of your desire to break up? Noticing how they show up is vital. It will give you insight into their potential reactions to the news and can help you choose the right place to have “the talk.”
Set & Setting for Breaking Up
Set and setting are critical for breaking up in a way that’s safe and respectful.
If you’re leaving a volatile situation, meet in a public space. If you think your partner might get angry and yell or cause a scene, have the talk sitting on your front porch. Or go for a walk and find a park bench in your neighborhood. Break up somewhere you are seen by neighbors but can still have a private discussion.
Of course, if there’s no fear of violence or retaliation, definitely don’t set them up for a public meltdown. If you cohabitate and are breaking up at home, make sure you have an overnight bag packed so you can leave if they need space to process the information.
Be Clear and Kind
Remember a painful break up where you were the dumpee. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, handle it the way you wish you would’ve been broken up with.
One of the best ways to have thoughtful dialogue during a difficult conversation is to focus on conscious breathing. The more you can regulate your breath, the clearer your mind will be. And a clear mind makes it much easier to choose kindness and compassion when you’re breaking up and explaining your decision.
Explain Your Rationale
Being clear and to the point about breaking up is mandatory, but the explanation you provide is equally as important. Don’t tell your partner, “things just aren’t working out.” The break-ups that haunt people the most are the ones they can’t explain. So, be honest and transparent. Make notes if you’re afraid you’ll forget the things that you want to say.
And no matter how you’ve been treated in the relationship, it is our advice always to take the high road.
Don’t get sucked into old fights and recurring storylines that set you both off. Remember that the calmest person in the room is in control. Keep a strong, steady voice when you’re speaking and use definitive words to describe the break-up. If you don’t want to “hit pause,” “take a break,” or “give each other space,” then don’t say that. If what you really want to do is break up and move on, then be firm and say that.
Alert Your Inner-Circle
There are a few reasons to rip off the bandaid and tell your inner circle when you’ve broken up with your partner.
Friends and family should know asap to avoid awkward phone calls or interactions with you and your now-ex. It’s a respectful thing to do. Also, support feels better than secrecy! Let the people that love you and your now-ex-partner be there to support you both during this time of upheaval and uncertainty.
Don’t hide under the decision because you don’t want to re-live the break up with each telling of the story. But everyone shouldn’t know the gory details. Instead, create a concise explanation. Having an “elevator speech” means you don’t have to go into the extended version of the story with everyone. And the silver lining is that the more you tell it, the less it will hurt.
Focus on Self-Care
Breaking up is one of the best excuses in the world to focus on self-care. That self-love includes exercise, eating healthy foods, drinking lots of water, and avoiding excessive drinking or drugs. It’s feeling your feelings and making time to be in nature. Get plenty of rest, but don’t get sucked into the sleep trap of depression. Self-care also includes socializing with your friends and staying active.
Make Time for Reflection Not Reaction
Meditation can be a valuable tool before and after breaking up. If you doubt the decision, go within. Get still, breathe, and listen. Reflect on the emotions that come up for you during this time. Perhaps the sadness you feel is lonesomeness for the familiarity of your ex-partner? Old habits are hard to break, and the love you feel for that person doesn’t magically disappear. Be sweet and kind to yourself. And send love and peaceful vibes to your ex. Breaking up is hard to do – for everyone.
Our last suggestion is to give yourself enough time to process the split. Don’t rush back into dating on the heels of breaking up. It’s great to get out there, but not the smartest idea to start something new until the old is completely wrapped. It’s a lot less messy that way.
When you are ready to find love again, we’re here to help you meet your match.