When it comes to a split, heart break isn’t solely reserved for the person who initiated the process. Getting dumped is awful, no doubt about it. But being the heart breaker can be pretty brutal, too. If you’ve seen the end of the line for your relationship – whether it be a quick fling or a long term thing – and are stressing over how to end it, we spoke to Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno to find out how to break up with someone nicely.
How to break up with someone nicely
Before the break up
1. Choose your timing
“It may feel like there is never a “good” time to break up with someone as it is such a tough time for the both of you. It would be beneficial for the both of you if you chose a time that was not post-argument where your decision making processes isn’t being impacted by temporary emotions. Ensure you have appropriate time to have the conversation, so it isn’t rushed and doesn’t allow you to speak about it in depth if need be. Try to avoid breaking up before you have to be somewhere or are running late for something. This is a difficult task to carry out so you want to ensure you give yourself the best chance at an appropriate break up (as hard as that may seem).”
2. Plan what you’re going to say
“Map out what you want to say and important points you’d like to get across, as it may be difficult to articulate how you feel when emotions are high.”
During the break up
1. Honesty is usually the best policy
“This really depends on the reasons as to why you’re breaking up, however what you say should always be close to the truth. I think it would be unfair to lie about the reason, but it’s also important to protect the others person’s feelings. You can be honest and tell them that it is a difficult time for you, and that you don’t like having to be in this situation, especially if it means potentially hurting someone else.
2. Express your gratitude
“Make sure you show gratitude for the relationship you had and let them know that you appreciate the good times you once shared together.”
3. Be supportive
“Let your partner know that you are still there for them, especially during this difficult time when they might feel like you are the only person they can talk to about it.”
4. Explain your reasoning
“Explain your points and share them as your perspective, don’t imply that that is the truth. Often your partner may challenge you on the evidence of the statements you put forward as “fact” and this may make you question yourself and your emotions. Articulate how you feel using …“I feel as though…, I felt that…” statements.”
Is it ok to use texts, letters or poems?
“Yes, but only if it is in conjunction with face to face talking. I don’t think it is ever ok to break up with someone via a text, but these tools can be used to further communicate the things you might be having trouble saying face to face. Texts, letters and poems can often help to better articulate what you really want to say, but be sure to use them as an additional tool, not the only one.”
What shouldn’t you say when breaking up with someone?
1. Don’t play the blame game
“Avoid trying to blame or shame the other person (even if you do feel like it is their fault). Relationships are a two-way street and there are many factors in play that can make it work or not. In most cases, both parties can take some responsibility for the relationship ending, so most of the time it is unfair to solely blame it on the one person.”
2. Don’t use cliches, be authentic
“Also avoid phrases like ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, that may feel like you are masking the real issues.”
3. Don’t make it a personal attack
“Try not to personally attack the other person as that can steer away from the points you’re trying to bring forward. It may hinder effective communication between you and the other person, leading to mixed interpretations of why you are in this scenario.”
What should you do if they react badly?
“Unfortunately, this is something you can’t control however be sure that your ex is aware that there are support options available to them should they need it. This could be a close friend or family member, or even a professional. Whilst being supportive of the feelings they’re going through, be sure that you protect your own feelings.”
What shouldn’t you do after a break up?
“Don’t continue to send mixed messages after the break up. Whilst you both might want to stay in contact, be sure to limit the contact and allow yourself to heal appropriately. When things are tough or when you need emotional support, It’ll be easy to want to turn back to your ex but remember that “you can’t heal in the same place that cut you”. In some cases it might feel like they are the only person you can turn to, and it is ok to reach out every now and then, but don’t rely on the fact that they might always be there for you. They need to have space to allow them to move on from you. Moving on with someone new will be difficult for your ex partner to see, remember to be mindful and respectful of their feelings after the breakup.”
Should you check in after a break up?
“Yes, I think it is appropriate to check in on someone after a break up, especially if that person had been in your life for a long time and of course you care about their well-being. Just make sure you aren’t contacting them too often or vice versa, as that may turn into a sticky situation. You’ll want to maintain some space between you and allow each person time to process through the thoughts and emotions and move on. If you are constantly talking or seeing each other, it might be harder to move on.”
What should you do if the person you’re breaking up with is going through a rough patch?
“These things always need to be taken into account and that’s when the issue of timing can come into play. Whilst it’s important to put yourself first, it is also important to be sensitive to anything else they might be experiencing. Ensure that your ex knows that support is available and that you can also be there for them if it’s needed.”
What should you do if they threaten suicide during or after the break up?
“A suicide threat always needs to be taken seriously, no matter what. Call 000 and stay with your ex partner until help arrives. No matter if you think it is something they would go through with or not, be sure to stay with them (or get a family member to watch them if you need to leave). A threat of suicide should never be taken lightly.”
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