Breaking up: 3 ways to gracefully leave a relationship
- Be sure you wish to end the relationship. Do not threaten to go away in an effort to get your partner to change. Ensure there actually is a lack of love, respect, or pleasure—and that it can’t be revived. If there’s still hope, get counseling to find out if there is a technique to save the relationship. It’s better to feel sure instead of angry when you make the choice to say goodbye. What we leave behind shifts through the phases of our lives. This can create confusion, disappointment and resentment when it causes partners to grow apart. Talk about these changes with your partner. Even if you have trouble articulating what you feel, the process of trying to share your thoughts is vital. All satisfying relationships require frequent and honest communication to be successful. We know that sharing negative feelings can be risky. Your partner may get defensive. That is why it can be wise to call on a couples counselor or therapist to help facilitate the conversation. I ended my last relationship with the help of a therapist. We sadly parted after two months of counseling, but neither of us felt broken. And after a year of healing, we were able to speak again, as friends.
- Don’t end the relationship before you end it. Blame, criticism, accusations, complaining, and secrets may get you the end you desire, but the process will be unnecessarily painful. Don’t find fault with your partner in an effort to cover your guilt for wanting to leave. Take responsibility for your choice. Identify what you want from a partner, and from your life. If you are sure you can’t find it in your current relationship, set a date to leave. Many relationships linger for years after the energy has drained out. After this slow erosion, something happens and one partner “wakes up” to how unhappy he or she feels. You can usually trace a path of complaints, disrespect, and neglect leading up to this revelation. Try to recognize these signs and talk about them before the relationship is killed. Once respect is lost, it’s not likely the relationship can be revived.
- If it’s a must to leave, begin with forgiveness. Forgive your partner for being human. Forgive yourself for selecting to leave. If you do so, you may still not be capable of make a clean break, however you can be less likely to inflict harm as you walk out. Choose a private place to share your decision with your partner. Then prepare to stay calm if the response is anger or manipulative behavior. Hopefully, you have had discussions, or even met with a therapist, before you reached this place, so your partner shouldn’t feel shocked. But there could still be an emotional reaction. Don’t attempt to calm your partner down. Be honest. Answer questions with kindness. Apologize for the pain they feel, but not your decision. Then ask when you can find the time to disentangle property and expenses. You may still face a difficult break or divorce. You probably won’t be friends. But try to show respect to the person you once loved—and who may still love you deeply.
Once you have begun the separation process, set your boundaries: If you have explained your reasons for leaving, you don’t have to do it again. You might establish a friendship later but you need time to confidently establish a life apart. Plus, you might need to find ways to cope with loneliness other than appeasing it with your ex. Seek assistance and support from friends, family and relationship professionals.