Breaking up with someone you still have feelings for can be one of the most conflicting situations to be in. You may find yourself second-guessing your decision, or you might feel like there could be a chance in the future to work it out.
That said, sometimes it’s just not going to unfold the way you’d perhaps planned. If that’s the case and you’re still wondering how to breakup with someone you’ve loved, here are a few tips on how you can end things kindly.
Write an “it’s over” letter
It may be helpful to write out what you plan to say. Getting everything down on paper allows you to plan your strategy properly and acts as a reminder about why you are doing this in the first place.
Since this is a person you still have care about, writing this letter can help to keep you strong and guide you through the actual breakup. These questions can help unravel the reasons behind why you’re ready to end the relationship:
- Why do I want to end things?
- How does this relationship make me feel?
- Why do we need to break up now?
- Moving forward, what do I need?
- What boundaries do we need to set?
Anticipate their objections to the breakup
One of the biggest reasons people stay in relationships longer than they should is because they’re afraid of hurting their partner’s feelings. This is going to sound harsh, but if you know that you need to move on from a relationship, your soon-to-be ex’s feelings are no longer your concern.
It’s fair to tell them your reasons for wanting to separate. You can deal with their reaction by keeping conversations about their feelings to a minimum. This sets boundaries and lowers the chance of being convinced otherwise.
Before you bring it up with them, think about how they might persuade you to stay, guilt-trip you, or react. Stick to how you feel because your concerns, needs and feelings are valid.
Begin detaching from them
If seeing your ex is unavoidable, treat them kindly but keep polite distance. Start going about each day with less communication and in-person talks. Also, try to limit questions about feelings to avoid awkward conversations.
If you have kids together, this is harder but not impossible. Make a schedule with your ex so they can see the kids. If necessary, ask family or friends to pick up the children (at least to start with). It’s important you find parity here because your kid’s well-being is priority number one.
If there are members of your ex’s family you’re close to, you might want to remain in contact. Do give your ex some agency here. If they struggle with it, make your intentions clear. Don’t keep in touch with their loved ones if it’s too painful for them to take.
Be aware that your ex’s relatives could try talking you into getting back together. If this happens, consider ending contact with them as well.
If seeing your ex on social media is hard, stop following their social media channels. Checking your ex’s status or posts could put the part of you that still cares back into a space of doubt. The aim is to move on completely.
Let go of the memories
You may have some items you feel sentimental about, like photos or gifts that your ex has given you. It’s possible those items will always be tinged with a little sadness because the relationship came to an end.
If you cannot bear to part with them, box them up and move them into storage. You could also see if your ex would want to take any of them. Revisit them in a few months’ time and see if they still hold as much value to you.
There is a notable exception to this rule. If you have children, they may want to see what life was like when their parents were together. If that’s the case, keep these photos safe but stored away so your they can look when they’re curious.
Don’t force “let’s be friends” closure
You must be prepared for the possibility that your ex will want to remain in the relationship and won’t be receptive to breaking up. You can’t control how they react, but you can control your own reactions. If your ex threatens to turn off communication between you two, it’s probably better that way. The point of breaking up is moving on.
If you couldn’t have them as a spouse, what value is there in being friends? Is friendship a realistic goal? There’s a possibility that being friends may keep your ex feeling like there may be some sort of chance. Remember that ending romantic involvement is the goal. Breaking up amicably is the goal to strive for, but it is not always possible.
Never doubt how you feel inside
Getting out of a relationship is hard. Take some time for yourself and heal. Work on areas in your life. You can do this by focusing on needs you may have neglected during the relationship.
It’s sometimes going to feel like you made a mistake. You might wonder whether you should go back, or if things really were that bad. Remind yourself that you left for good reasons. Don’t let anything shake your decision. It will get much easier as time passes.