Breakups are a lonely and painful business but sticking around in an unhealthy relationship will only draw out that pain and loneliness. If you’re feeling stuck, you’re not alone. Many of us have found ourselves in a relationship that’s reached a dead end, or has become unhealthy, or even unsafe, and have had to finally decide, look, enough is enough. It’s a hard decision to reach, but an even harder decision to carry through.
Below are some thoughts from us at Well Being Trust about breaking off a bad relationship and making sure the breakup sticks.
1. Stick to a plan
Breaking off a relationship is a confusing, emotional experience, and going into it with a plan will help you keep your bearings. Here are a few things to think about before you have the conversation with your partner:
- First, try making a list of all the reasons you know this relationship must end. And then after, if you find yourself having second thoughts, go back to that list as a reminder.
- Tell your family and friends about your plan to end the relationship. After the breakup they will be important sources of emotional support, and they can also help you keep motivated to go through with the breakup.
- Decide what you’d like to say, and how you plan to say it. Focus on using calm “I” language, that emphasizes how this relationship is no longer working for you.
- Pick a location. If you are worried that your partner may react abusively, do not meet your partner in private.
- Plan some activities in advance to keep yourself occupied once you break the relationship off. After the breakup, you may feel as though you don’t have any energy or interest to go out. Distract yourself by planning activities in advance, you will make it all easier to get yourself out there and moving and feeling better.
2. Prepare yourself for the emotional fallout
Just because this relationship is no longer a happy one doesn’t mean the breakup won’t feel sad, lonely, and even unnatural at times. There is no avoiding that pain or the doubt that may come with it, but you can acknowledge that it will come, and that it will pass. Try to keep that perspective when you’re wading through the thick of it. Now is a great time to rely on family and friends for emotional support, for guidance, reassurance, and for distraction.
3. Make a clean break
Often times, after a difficult breakup, we feel the urge to reach out to our exes for emotional support, or to provide emotional support, but resist that urge! Maybe you can be friends again down the line, but now is not the time. Right now you both need some distance. Making a clean break, hard as it may feel, will make the breakup quicker and less painful for both you and your partner.
4. You are not responsible for your partner
After the breakup, it does not fall to you to care for your ex-partner. Right now you have to care for yourself. It will be hard to see your partner in pain, but you are not responsible for their emotions. Allow them the space they need to recover on their own. They will be OK.
5. Keep busy
It’s common to feel depressed after the end of a relationship, but instead of holding up in your bedroom, get out there and get busy. Spend time doing things you love. Spend time with family and friends. Ask yourself, what did you like to do before this relationship? Now is a time to get in touch with old passions and new, and to explore all the possibilities that have just opened up.
And remember to keep up on your self-care too. In times of added stress and emotional distress, it can be easy to forget about all the little things you need to be well. So, while a little post-breakup ice cream may also be in order, make sure you’re getting in three healthy meals a day. Get some exercise. Get some fresh air. Keep yourself to a regular sleep schedule. Like anything else, the way through a breakup is just one step at a time.
We know breakups are tough, and we want to know how you’re handling it. Join the mental wellness conversation online using the hashtags #BeWell, #BeHeard, and #BeThere.
If you’re having a difficult time and would like to talk to someone about it, there are other teens at Teen Line who want to listen. Reach them at 310-855-4673, or text TEEN to 839863.