Breaking up is hard to do. No one likes it, or at least I hope not. It can be life-altering and messy and leave everyone involved feeling devastated. It’s even more tragic when you have to break up with someone you love. Sometimes a break up happens because circumstances have changed, maybe you still love him deeply but your lives are moving in different directions, or your spark has faded and while you still love him, you aren’t in love with him.
Not every break up comes after a cheating scandal or as the result of a fiery argument, sometimes you simply have to make the hard choice to go your separate ways, and in those moments, it can be difficult to make the right choices and say the right words. I’ve created a list to help you navigate your way through a painful break up, so both of you can move on and start new, happier lives.
Table of Contents
Before you pull the final trigger, give yourself plenty of time to think about this decision. A hasty break up can be irreversible and life-changing, it’s not the kind of choice to be made in the spur of the moment or on the back of an argument gone sour. Sometimes, arguments can even bring the two of you closer together and strengthen your relationship. These trying times give you and your partner a chance to better understand what the other wants and this lets you grow and evolve and hopefully never argue about the same thing again.
That said, if your arguments raise too many red flags, then you ought to end it, for the benefit of you both. If he hurts you, emotionally or physically, then your relationship probably won’t be worth saving. Similarly, if you argue a lot, about the same things over and over, it’s probably time to cut your losses.
Take some time to talk to each other about your concerns before jumping ship, you don’t want to do something in the heat of the moment that you can’t ever take back. Think about why you feel this way - are you bored with him or bored with your life? Maybe you can find ways to spice things up together. Think about how much you might miss him if you were apart, and consider how happy you are. No relationship is rainbows and butterflies all the time, especially if you’ve been together a long time, but you should weigh up the hard times against the good, which do you have more of? If you don’t think you’re meshing well anymore, tell him! Give him more credit, he might feel the same and want to work on it too. If he doesn’t react well to your mature conversation, or you find the bad outweighs the good, then it’s probably time to let go.
Another option to consider before diving headfirst into severing all ties with your boyfriend is taking a break from each other. Taking a break, or space, comes with a bad reputation it doesn’t deserve (thanks, Ross and Rachel). Relationships are intense, and joining your life so deeply with someone else’s can be overwhelming. It’s okay to feel like you need some time apart to find yourself again and reassess your wants and your needs before being certain about carrying on or ending the relationship altogether.
A break lends itself to the moments when your relationship has come crashing into the rocks, such as after the discovery of infidelity or following a huge blowout argument. You might feel a whole flood of emotions and pain, and a healthy, mature way to handle that is to take some time away from each other. Sometimes, talking can’t resolve your problems straight away and breaking up feels too final, ask for some time away from each other - no talking, no checking in, just uninterrupted time to process your thoughts without the continuing pressures of the relationship clouding your feelings.
It’s important to set some rules and boundaries if this is the route you choose to take because the lines can become blurred and the wrong impression can be easily made. Your first step should always be to make it clear to him that you’re making this choice because you love him, and you want to find a way to stay together, but you can’t see a way to do that without some time to yourself and your thoughts. Be clear on whether you want to see or date other people during this time and how much you want to be in contact with each other.
Remember the classic saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Time apart doesn’t have to be a sign of tragedy to come. You often never know how much you love a person until you’re given a chance to miss them.
If you’re thinking about taking a break from your relationship, or you’re interested in learning more about this option, give this short video a watch!
In this day and age, therapy is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s healthy and so beneficial to your mental wellbeing. If you find yourself struggling to get through to your boyfriend, or your discussions quickly turn into arguments, why not try a couple’s therapy session together? Especially if you’ve been together a long time, your relationship is worth putting in the effort to save.
There’s often a fear that one person will be forced to take all the blame in the therapy sessions - that one of you will be the bad guy and the other will be the victim. This is not the case, especially if you find a good, experienced therapist. The sessions will be about locating the problems on both ends and finding solutions that will work for you both. Couple's therapy is also thought to only be for married couples, but this is also a myth. If you’re in a relationship that you want to save, especially a strongly committed one, then therapy is for you no matter your status.
Couple’s therapy will allow you both to express your grievances separately, sometimes even in separate sessions with the therapist, to allow them to form an honest, unbiased view of your troubles. They’ll form a plan for you, from games and activities to do together to improve your communication to encouraging dates to bring back the spark. You can keep going to therapy for as long as you want, until you feel like your relationship is back on track and you’ve learned enough tools to carry you forward, or until you feel you’ve exhausted all your options and your troubles just cant be resolved.
If you’ve given your options all the consideration the relationship deserves and you’ve decided that breaking things off entirely is the right thing to do, then you ought to start considering how you’re going to go about it. A very important factor in a healthy, mature break up is choosing the best location for you, because of course, you’re mature adults, and texting the heartbreaking news is not an option. Rule number one should always be, never do it in your own home. When the conversation is finally over, you’re going to want to go your separate ways without making things more awkward than they need to be.
If you think the break up will be mutual, or at least civil, then you could head over to their home to do it. They’ll appreciate being in their own space when they hear your news, and you can leave swiftly without making the situation any harder. It’s also good to consider that if you aren’t at their home, they’ll have to travel home in their emotional state. It’s not safe to cry while you drive, and no one wants to take a bus across town with tear-stained cheeks and bloodshot eyes - it gets you some weird looks.
If you can’t make it to his house or he has a history of reacting poorly to bad news, then consider the best public place. You don’t want to be trapped at your table in a restaurant, waiting for the bill to come. It’s also not the best choice unless you think you can whisper the whole thing, and keep your faces and body language so calm that no one else around you will feel uncomfortable. Try somewhere public but open, giving you a little privacy, like a local park. A seat on a bench is a comfortable, neutral place. You can leave when the conversation has run its course, and others will be around to prevent the situation escalating and help you feel safe.
You should also consider the sentimentality of the place you choose. If you had a “spot”, like a cafe or a part of town that became a place you loved to go to together, try not to taint that memory for them. Make sure it’s a place that neither of you are particularly attached to, so you can both continue to go to your favorite spots when the dust has settled.
This one is simple and straightforward - don’t be a jerk.
You loved this person once, maybe you still do. You don’t want them to be any more hurt than they have to feel, and it’ll be easier on you too if you can walk away knowing you weren’t playing villain and victim. There’s nothing quite like leaving a relationship and having all his friends think you’re a b***h because you crushed him in the break up. Don’t become the bad guy. You also don’t want to burn any bridges. Maybe in the future, you’ll want to be in contact again, or you might even want them back. If you hurt them, you’ll never be able to undo that damage.
There’s always a chance that he’ll get upset and hurtful anyway, and I suppose we can’t blame him, you should just never rise to it. Let him work through his emotions, no matter how hurtful he gets, stay level-headed and kind. He’s only behaving this way because he’s losing you.
Make sure you give him plenty of time to talk about his own feelings, even if it’s never going to change your mind. It’s important for their own closure that they felt like they had a chance to say everything the wanted to. If you stop them expressing their own opinions it can lead to a messy unclear end with too much back and forth discussion when the chapter needed to be closed. You need to be sure you’ve told them all the reasons for your decisions too, and that they understand what you mean, or lingering feelings of confusion will plague your new chapter.
Similarly to never being mean, try to stay cool and calm with your emotions too. It can be easy to get lost in the emotional pain of it all, so much so that you could even find yourself backing down and changing your mind in the heat of the moment, even though that’s not what you really want. It can be torturous to watch the man you loved, or maybe still do, be hurt and even cry because you’re leaving but you have to find some inner strength and stick to your intentions. If you switch positions now, you might regret it down the line and only have to hurt him, and yourself, all over again.
Sometimes it can be a good idea to go in with some notes prepared to help keep you on track. Try to avoid having a whole speech prepared - no one enjoys a scripted heartfelt moment. Talk from the heart, but consider a few notes, or think through it carefully before you start - just enough to keep you on track and unaffected by emotion.
The most important rule of break ups is this: Unfollow, Unfollow, Unfollow.
It’s so easy in this day and age to keep up to date with every part of a person’s life without a single personal connection to them. You don’t have to ask anymore, you just have to follow them on one of many social media accounts. For long lost friends and family you keep at arms distance, this is great. For exes and past lovers, this is personal torture and after a break up you owe it to yourself to avoid it altogether.
Sometimes quitting cold turkey can be hard, so be honest with yourself about how easy this will be. If you need the extra help to stay away, block him on these sites. The purpose isn’t to keep him out, sometimes it’s just the only way to stop yourself searching his name and scrolling for hours. If you block his accounts from your own, you won’t be able to see his public profiles. This is hard, but definitely for the best. If you’re struggling, you could consider having a friend give you limited updates on occasion when you’re in a position to talk it through with them if you don’t like what you hear.
You’ll never see anything you that makes you feel better on his social media, there’s truly no benefit to having carte blanche access to his life. In fact, studies suggest that checking an exes social media will only make you more miserable. It’s much harder to move on if you stay attached to such a painful part of your past, gift yourself a new, clean slate. Obsessing about what he’s doing, who he’s doing it with and whether or not he’s happier without you is destructive, and your mental health won't thank you for it. Do yourself a favor and cut those ties immediately, you’re not missing anything, I promise.
You also want to make sure you aren’t using your own social media profiles to get a rise out of him either. Control the urge to post your hottest selfies and snaps from a wild night out you had years ago just to get his attention (we’ve all done it, there’s no need to deny it.) Part of being kind is allowing him time to heal too, and that might mean blocking him for his own sake, or at least trying to avoid rubbing yourself in his face, so to speak.
Take a look at this short, slightly odd, video that will tell you even more about why you absolutely should stop stalking your ex on social media!
Being friends with your ex is a controversial matter, some think it’s do-able, others think it’s almost a crime. The fact is, being friends with someone you once loved is a minefield and can be very tricky to navigate. In a perfect world, we’d all love to be able to stay in contact with our exes, keep up to date with their lives and never have to feel like we’d done irreparable damage by ending the relationship - but it’s not that easy. In most break ups, someone ends up hurt. When deep feelings are involved it can be hard to let them go, and when those romantic feelings are still around, it can be hard to be just a friend. The reality is, most of us want to remain friends for selfish reasons, we want to be kept in the loop about our exes lives, and future loves. Sometimes, you have to be strong and cut those ties to benefit both of your healing processes.
Eventually, sometime down the line, maybe you can consider rebuilding your friendship again. Take it slow, you can’t expect to be best friends on day one. It tends to be easier to remain friends if you were already close before things became romantic. Remaining friends can also influence whether you’ll get back together, or at least whether you want to. If you really don’t want to rekindle that flame, you ought to steer clear of any contact with him, if not for your sake, then for him. You don’t want to give the wrong impression. He needs time to heal and so do you, unless you really think you can both handle a platonic friendship you might be better off giving each other some much-needed space.
It’s okay to want to hold onto sentimental items when the break up is fresh and raw, but eventually, those tokens of your relationship have to go if you ever want to move on. The process of removing things from your home and your life that you’ve grown attached to can be really painful, so consider bringing some close friends in to help you. There’s no rush to let go, but as soon as you feel ready, it’s time for a cleanse.
Find yourself a big box and fill it with everything that brings back memories of your relationship. This could include items of his clothing you kept to snuggle in and jewelry and gifts from him. You don’t have to burn them in a fire, but you ought to take down any photos of the two of you you have put up around your home. There’s a difficult grey area when it comes to items that came from him or remind you of him, but you just don’t want to lose. Maybe he bought your favorite sweater or you have fond memories attached to something you created together. Those things can be kept if you can be certain that they won’t bring you painful memories. It can be nice to remember the good times, just as long as you can keep those memories fond, and not allow them to stir up feelings of regret or sadness for what has been lost.
Depending on the circumstances of your break up, you might want to give some things back - if you’ve been together a while, your house is probably littered with his things. If you’re on good terms, arrange to do this yourselves either in public or at one of your homes if you think you can be together without bringing up too many feelings. If you still want to give him his things back or get your own stuff back, you could ask a friend to be the go-between.
You should also consider a phone cleanse. We’re all guilty of it, scrolling for hours on end through all the photos and messages you shared with an ex. It’s an unhealthy self-inflicted torture, no worse than scanning their social media pages. Do not dwell in the past and do not spend your present dwelling on what their future might bring.
It’s almost inevitable to feel some regret after breaking up with someone you love, but it’s important to stay strong and always remember your reasons. Change can be hard, especially when you’ve been together for a long time. You get used to life flowing a certain way, then suddenly it’s all turned upside down. It’s normal to feel like you’ve lost yourself. Your instincts will tell you to go back, to stick to what you became comfortable with - ignore those instincts. When you find yourself lying awake in the night, overthinking how much you miss him, you can feel your phone yelling at you to send him that text. Don’t do it. You know you don’t want to, and in the rational light of the morning, you’ll remember why you didn’t want to be committed to him anymore. You wouldn’t want your own feelings messed with, so don’t mess with his by running back and forth, to and from him. Know your own mind before you tell him how you feel.
You could write yourself a letter when you’re feeling more certain of yourself, to be opened in those moments of regret. Remind yourself of all the reasons you don’t want to be together anymore. Make sure you have friends who know how stressful you’re finding this process and make sure you can always rely on them to remind you of the reasons that led to that choice.
If you find yourself somewhere down the line truly aching to return to what you had, do it. It’s okay to go back after seeing what life looks like without him but approach it correctly. Be honest, be apologetic and be certain that it’s what you want. Breaking up and getting back together is common and can still lead to a happy, committed relationship as long as you take it slow and be respectful.
Did this list help you through this tricky time? Let us know if you liked it!
When you cut ties that have been wrapped so tightly around you, it’s no wonder we feel so lost, sad and regretful. It’s okay to not be happier without them at first and it’s normal to regret it for a while. Stay firm with your decision and surround yourself with other people in your life who love you just as much. Stay busy and distracted, maybe even try something new. A new hobby, a new hair-do or a new coat of paint in your bedroom can change so much about how optimistic you feel. Don’t be afraid to start again when you’re ready, the right love will come for you if you stay open to it.
It’s so important to break up the right way - be your best self, be mature and be respectful. If you do it right, you’ll never be left wondering.