Wednesday, July 01, 2009

How to Break Up Gracefully

Back in 2004-ish I wrote a series of articles for a start-up website called The site was intended to bring together a number of relationship "experts" to discuss aspects of, well, relationships. Amidst the psychologists and therapists there was I, talking about being single, dating, and breaking up from a young woman's point of view. My work got a pretty positive reaction even if the website did not reach the heights its team aspired towards. The site, after years of inactivity, has since gone offline and as a result so have my articles. In an effort to keep them online I am going to be reposting them here. After all, this did start off as a blog about singles' issues. Just bear in mind that these articles are a few years old and as such may not reflect some current situations in society, the online world, and my life.

How to Break Up Gracefully

Most romantic relationships eventually come to an end – except for the one with the person with whom we spend our lives. In every break-up, there are always two sides. Here are some tips to make your side a little easier if you are the one who has to end it.

1. Don’t act surprised or taken aback if your ex gets emotional. It is only natural to feel hurt, even if the writing was on the wall for a while.

2. Say what you need to say, and do not become insulting or derogatory towards the other person.

3. If the other person becomes hostile or irrational, remove yourself as tactfully as possible. Perhaps say something like, “We can discuss this when you are in a more reasonable mood,” then head for the door.

4. Never give the “let’s just be friends” speech, unless you really mean it. Make sure your motives are pure, and that you are not really trying to stay close to your ex just in case you realize you’ve made a mistake. Likewise, if the other person is not interested in staying friends, don’t push it.

5. As much as possible, avoid using those stale clich├ęs: “It’s not you, it’s me.” “I love you, but I am not IN love with you.” Please – we’ve all heard them before, and we know in 99.99 percent of the case they are not even true.

6. Make sure you have returned anything that belongs to the other person, and if he or she later comes to you asking for something of theirs, give it back. Gifts given to each other are never returned (except for an engagement ring).

7. Don’t gossip about your ex, especially to any of your mutual friends and acquaintances.

8. Be clear – the other person has a right to know why you are ending the relationship. Unless, of course, you are leaving an abusive relationship, in which case you need to get out any way you can.

9.“Goodbye sex” is a definite no-no. Besides sending mixed signals, there is always the risk of ending up with a little “surprise” nine months later (believe me, I’ve heard of it happening).

10. At the same time, don’t be afraid to show some emotions. Cry if you have to. After all, this is someone that you spent a significant amount of time and energy caring for. Just because you’re doing the breaking up doesn’t mean there is no pain for you also.

Paula E. Kirman is a freelance writer and website designer in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Her website is:

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