I have ended many relationships in my lifetime.
Some were initiated by me. Some were a mutual decision.
And some were ones I didn’t want to end at all but needed to.
I have been incredibly lucky that most of my relationships ended with love, compassion and general feelings of good will towards each other as we parted.
Then there have been the ones that have ended with hurt feelings, untrue accusations, undiscovered lies and reservoirs of anger that still simmer to this day. None of us want a relationship with someone we used to love to end like this. And I’m realizing it really doesn’t have to.
There are ways to end a relationship with someone we no longer feel is a good fit for us in a loving and compassionate way, that leaves both parties feeling seen, heard and acknowledged for what they brought to the relationship.
The ones I’ve had that ended beautifully, with clarity, grace and gentleness all had these elements:
The one thing we all deserve when ending a relationship is honesty. There is nothing worse than finding out later that someone ended things with us because they had someone else cooking on the back burner or being told some half truth instead of the real truth.
Being honest doesn’t mean being mean. It means saying what is true for you with as much tact and sensitivity as you can muster. It may be, “I’m having feelings of wanting to explore being with other people.” or “I just feel that our interests are too different and I can’t see myself with you long term.” But people want to know the truth and not be left guessing why things didn’t work out when in their eyes, things seemed to be going so well.
An acknowledgement of what the other person brought to your life.
Every relationship brings us something special while we are in it. It may be many years of amazing memories, or helping us grow in areas where we needed. The person may have financially supported us at a time we needed it. Or helped heal our heart from a breakup we had prior to getting involved with them.
Although it’s ending, it’s important to say good-bye acknowledging the things about the relationship that were wonderful, what you learned about yourself through being with them and what you’ll take with you into the next relationship.
If we are not the person ending the relationship, it’s very easy to launch into blame mode. Blaming them for not treating you with respect. Blaming them for past hurts. Blaming them for making you feel a certain way. This is hard not to do. Often when relationships come to an end, there is a lot of blaming on both sides for things that weren’t working.
Try to withhold blaming each other for anything and simply agree that you are no longer bringing out the best in each other so it’s clear that it’s time to part ways. Then go back to the “acknowledging what the person brought to your life” part to try to keep the focus on the good things about your time together instead of the bad.
A willingness by each partner to ask for what they need.
When couples split up, one usually has the expectation that they will stay friends while the other wants nothing to do with the other person anymore because it’s too painful. Everyone is different. So have a conversation about what your expectations are of each other to make breaking up less painful. We often don’t know how to transition from daily communication with each other to nothing.
Talk about whether its OK to call or text each other. Discuss whether you still want to stay friends on Facebook or other social media sites. And respect what the other person needs to heal and move on.
We wish each other well.
This is sometimes hard to do in an ugly breakup. But if you do the other 4 things, although you are walking away disappointed, sad and probably filled with a lot of hurt, hopefully you can at least wish the other person well.
We are not the perfect match for every person we are with. And we are sometimes the perfect match for someone for 10, 15 or even 20 years…. then our paths are meant to diverge and steer off in opposite directions. We ultimately need to accept that our time together is ending and find space in our heart to wish the person we once loved well, knowing that this is something we all deserve.
The couples I’ve seen do this, are till this day good friends and still love and support each other. As heart-wrenching and painful as breaking up with someone can be, it’s possible to do it with an open heart, honest words, and loving compassion.
“Went through the hardest break up of my life and this is what I created. I hope you enjoy. Your life is your story make it a good one.”
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Renée Picard