What do you say to the beautiful, the brainless, the brazen and the barbarous who broke your heart? I’m sure you can think of a few things. I’m sure you can think of a few things you’d like to do too. But apart from the legal implications, (or illegal I should say), there’s a few good reasons why you should hold your tongue, don’t say anything and don’t do anything either, (nothing at all) in the heat of the moment.
Too often we say the first thing that comes to mind. While this may be what you’re thinking at the moment, anger aside, it may not really be a true representation of how you feel. Surely although in this moment your partner seems to be ‘a mere tick on the backside of an elephant, soon to be flicked off by its tail and crushed under its mammoth heel like nothing more than an insignificant annoyance’, (breathe) in hindsight this might perhaps be a bit harsh. Likewise, quick flares of rage can prompt actions that land us on ‘Judge Judy’. And since we all know it’s edited, the experience may not be as cool as they would have us believe.
All in all, what you say and do can’t be taken back. And apart from the hurt and disappointment you’ll both feel, it can lead to a month, year, or lifetime of regret. So learn how to bite your tongue and curb your raging enthusiasm. Besides, are you even sure you want to break-up?
The jackass of today maybe the stallion of tomorrow. You are ticked-off now, but give yourself a chance to cool off. Later, when you think back (with a clear mind) of all the idiotic and hurtful things the other person said, (or did), some of it may actually make a little sense and while not well phrased, was perhaps not intended to be hurtful. If you didn’t blow-up in the first place, you won’t have to admit this. And more importantly, with a little etiquette class, you may not actually want to break-up. A rational discussion, or few choice words in a firm tone should suffice. And then you can kiss and make-up. (Ah, fun times).
The repeat offender. You’re really furious this time. And the last time you were here was just a little while ago. (A few hours to be exact). You cooled off, even chilled out, but here you are again, red in the face and ready for a taekwondo class. (Sometimes yoga won’t do).
Relationships are about being happy together. There’s a lot of other stuff in there too, but generally speaking, you’re with that person because when you are, it feels good. But what if it feels bad, all the time? First of all, is it really all the time? You may just have one issue that you’re not dealing with and getting past. Don’t get me wrong, depending on what it is, this one issue can be enough to make you run for the hills. (And not in a ‘Sound of Music’ type of way).
If you are at this stage you should do a hit list. One page with two columns and a writing instrument. Side A, write all the stuff you love, like and can tolerate about your partner. Side Nay, the opposite. Do this as a numbered list. Clearly if the A list wins, give the poor darling a break and work things out. You may just need a little therapy. But if the Nay’s have it and there’s a hot new topic to make you hot and bothered daily, see your local therapist. If time passes without a real resolution and the money runs out, throw the towel in. If you gave the therapist a shot, you can honestly say you tried to make it work. Or, you can have ice-cream in front the TV and honestly say you tried to make it work. It depends on your budget.
The unforgivable. Something was said or done that there is just no coming back from. This one is easy to spot. You have started meditating to episodes of ‘Snapped’ and generating ideas from ‘Forensic Files’ on ‘TruTV’. Act quickly, it’s time to break-up. Or pretty soon you’ll be staring in your very own episode and you won’t even get a trip on the Red Carpet for your troubles.
So, here we are, you have decided to break-up, it can’t be helped. Even the therapist recommended it. Or worse, your partner doesn’t like ice-cream. (Madness!).
1. Time to get down and dirty. Or not. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do just about anything. Even break-up. While I’m no therapist, I have been broken up with (fools) and I have done the breaking up with (fools) and I have consoled enough friends through both to tell you exactly what the wrong way is. It’s cruel and insensitive. The right way, is kind and sincere. The wrong way, hurts everyone. The right way, hurts everyone. No, that’s not an error, just thought you should have all the facts. We’re going to try and accomplish the break-up done nicely. This way should hurt a little less. (Hurt you less that is. Your partner may disagree.)
If you have absolutely no fear of Karma or you think the other person is worth the risk of Karma just so you can be mean, knock yourself out. But stand in your shoes, keep your jewelry on and hold the clutch in place for just a minute more. Might I suggest you think about two things first? If what you’re about to say or do, was said or done to you, how would you feel? And if you saw your ex in the obituaries next month, would you regret what you say or do now? Because then, you won’t be able to take it back, ever and since we don’t know the future, I don’t recommend the risk.
2. “The art of living is in the fine balance of letting go and holding on.” I don’t know who said it but I think it’s profound and quite true. Usually from every relationship there was some good mixed in with the bad. Take the good stuff with you, let the bad stuff go. I’m not saying it’s easy to do. But as far as I can tell, nothing worth it ever is.
3. Study, you will be quizzed later. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Your partner will have questions, but if you give details and examples upfront, you can minimize the number of questions you get. Reducing the queries will help you to keep your temper in check, since they can be frustrating.
I’m always a big advocate for writing it out. Personally this just helps me remember. (Please don’t leave the list on the kitchen counter). But be warned, if you break-up with someone with a notebook in your lap and check things off a list as you go, you’re liable to be cussed, or smacked. So you’ll want to commit the points to memory.
4. The real estate market is booming, but choose your location carefully. Relationships today are surely not the relationships our parents had. We keep in touch through a complex assortment of technological advancements, few require even seeing the other person. You’re lucky to have a cup of coffee together and if you get a physical card or (gasp) flowers, you’re likely to cry. (More from shock than anything.) But none of these channels is the way to break-up.
Do not break-up by phone call, faxes, emails, e-cards, web chat, webcam chat, Facetime, video conference, text message, Blackberry messenger, My Space, Facebook or Twitter. It unkind, tacky and rude. Break-up in person, face-to-face. And think twice about that location.
A public location may lead to embarrassment for you both if things get heated and loud. Choose somewhere private and comfortable for both of you. Be careful however not to be insensitive, don’t go back to a place that as previously a source of happiness. For example, don’t break-up on the park bench where you first said ‘I love you’. (Dipstick). If you’re concerned things may not go well, have a friend nearby to bail you out if shoes start flying.
5. Schedule a commercial break. Plan the timeline you want to break-up in, start time and end time. It may sound rough but not really. Bear in mind you know what’s going on, but if the other person doesn’t know what’s coming, they may not want to let you go. If we want to hold on to a relationship the best chance to do this is during the break-up itself. With enough time they may try to wear you down and get you to recommit. (Sneaky devils). You will also want an official end time for you own peace of mind. Hurting someone isn’t an easy thing to do and you can only answer “but why?” so many times. You should plan your out from early, once you have said all you had to say and listened all you care to listen, escape.
6. You’re cordially invited to an execution. You’re going to have to invite your partner to the face-to-face break-up. If you don’t let them know in advance you ‘need to talk’, they will feel ambushed when you drop the bomb. But whatever you do, don’t say, ‘let’s go out because we need to talk’. Nothing that has ever ended well commenced with that phrase. How you phrase it will depend on how well you know your partner and the level of your creative genius, but don’t get them there under false pretenses. If you can just go to their place, brilliant. This will also make your timely exit less of a problem.
7. The talk. It’s over, there’s nothing to lose now, so you can be completely honest. Be frank and firm but sensitive and fair. And have some heart, it’s not a good time to crack a joke and don’t smile sweetly through the whole thing. Seriously. Be sure to listen to how the other person feels too. While it may not fix the relationship, it may set you both on the path to emotional recovery. You may come out of this, friends. Or you may want to move to another country when it’s all over. Prepare for the worse.
8. The stages of grief. The relationship has been lost so there will be some grieving, for either or both of you. There are 5 stages to expect (others break this down into 7 but I prefer the one hand finger count).
- Denial (this isn’t happening to me!)
- Anger (why is this happening to me?)
- Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if…)
- Depression (I don’t care anymore)
- Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes)
You can practically count these off as the conversation flows, it’s that accurate. What you should prepare for is that some people will linger at the second or third stage. Your break-up conversation may end with the other person still angry or bargaining. Don’t expect acceptance to come right away. Some break-ups even have sequels.
9. You’ve broken up, so take a break. You have done the deed, time for life to start moving on. Solo. Give yourself a break, emotionally. The other person will say you have done a bad thing, (whatever), that does not make you a bad person. Live guilt free. Give yourself a break, physically. Enjoy dating for awhile. Spend the weekend somewhere fun. Just relax. Now is a good time for that postponed yoga class.
10. Don’t retaliate. It would be remiss of me you to let you leave thinking if you followed the steps all will go well. Perhaps, but not always. Some of us date slightly insane people, but you may not know until you’ve scorned them. While you didn’t say anything on Facebook or Twitter, doesn’t mean they won’t. No need for us to all act like children. Inhale, exhale and let it go.
Good luck with your break-up. I hope you go to each other’s weddings (to other people of course) and stay friends for years to come. If all else fails tell the fool where to get off. Then grab your trusty spoon and go knock back a quarter litre of ice-cream.