No one ever goes into a relationship thinking that they will break up. Still, over the course of your dating life, you will probably either be dumped or do the dumping at some point. When you are put into the position of breaking up with someone, however, the situation can get awkward real fast. No breakup happens overnight and it usually stems from repressed feelings or realizations that a relationship just isn’t working.
You’re “not sure where this is going.” Before you break it off with your significant other, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I just angry?
Before you make a decision to end things, make sure you’re initiating a breakup for the right reasons. Don’t impulsively call it quits. Slow down and evaluate: Is this decision purely an emotional one? Wait until you’re calm and can carefully weigh your breakup motivation. It’s easy to give up when you’re exhausted or in the middle of unresolved conflict.
2. Why do I want to break up with this person?
This may seem like an obvious question and one your friends will inevitably ask. Outlining in bullet points or even writing down the reasons for breaking up can help you feel validated in your decision. It can even be as simple as writing a pros and cons list for breaking up. This is especially helpful for those who go back and forth between wanting to break up with their significant other and staying with them. Seeing your own feelings written out can give you a sudden epiphany like, “Why didn’t we break up sooner?” And if you feel comfortable, confiding in a family member or friend who has no personal stake in the matter can help you feel more confident in your decision.
3. Are the issues resolvable?
No relationship is perfect. Identifying the problems together, whether they be trust issues or lack of passion, will help you both come up with a plan to tackle the problems. Do you feel like your relationship lacks heat? Are there feelings of jealousy from either end? Discuss what (or who) is making either of you angry or uncomfortable. Was there infidelity in the relationship? Maybe counseling is an option if you both still love each other and want to make it work. Regardless of what the outcomes may be, clear communication from both parties will be the best closure to any breakup.
4. Do I love this person?
Relationships are based on love and affection, and if none of that exists then what is the point? You might be thinking, ‘Of course I love him! We have been through so much.’ Ask yourself, is that love? You might have been in love with him in the past, but is that how you feel now? Sometimes we get so used to having the person next to you that we mistake that feeling for love. So are you in love with him or just with the idea of him?
Ask this yourself before considering a break up.
5. Will I regret the decision?
Right before you break the bad news to someone, you might get cold feet. And even after, you may feel like the villain for ending things. Second-guessing your decision for breaking up is only natural, but if you nudge yourself to think of the reasons for ending the relationship (see question one) and you know you both tried your best to keep it going (see question two), then you will not regret parting ways.
6. If I could get an email from myself ten years from now, what advice might it have?
This is another good trick to get a different perspective on the problem and to get in touch with the inner wisdom we all have. My thanks to Havi Brooks for inspiring this one with her dialogues with her “slightly future me”.
7. How will my world change when we split?
Before you break up with your partner, prepare yourself for what’s next. Things will change. Your housing situation may get complicated. Your social life will change significantly, both in how you spend your time and in whom you spend it with. Your daily routine will no longer be routine. While the fear of change or the unknown shouldn’t stop you from leaving an unhealthy relationship, ending things before you’ve considered the first few steps pre-breakup can make a sad situation even more stressful and overwhelming.
8. Is initiating a breakup just playing a game?
If you’re secretly hoping that a breakup — or even just a threat of a breakup — will bring the two of you closer together, it won’t. Don’t play games with either of your hearts. If you want things to get better, assert yourself and invest time and energy in the relationship. Never use the threat of a breakup as a tool to initiate change.
9. Is this relationship bringing out the best in me?
Take a look at the person you have become in relation to who you were before. Do you like the comparison?
10. Have I given this relationship my best shot?
A relationship will fail eventually if you’re not all in. Don’t blame your partner for the crumbling of a romance if you haven’t given your best to the relationship. If you’re hesitant to say goodbye, try throwing yourself back into the union, full throttle. If you still care, don’t let love fizzle without a fight.
11. Should I leave the door open for getting back together in the future?
This one is tricky because leaving the door open to getting back together might not provide either side with the closure you both need. It’s perfectly fine to both go your separate ways and still remain in touch. The key is to know when and how to stay in contact. This doesn’t mean you can check up on your ex every week or have your ex treat you like you’re both in a relationship (when clearly you’re not). It takes two mature adults to break up and get back together and if this seems like the right decision for you, go for it. If you don’t find the arrangement working, though, you’ll have to speak up about it and it may feel like you’re breaking up all over again.