Here Are 5 Ways You Can Break Up Gracefully


Breaking up is hard to do and yet we can make it look so easy. That's likely because we break up in very impersonal, selfish and disrespectful ways. By the time we've read the last relationship rites, so much has gone down that we need bodyguards to ensure no one's tearing up the casket or assaulting the corpse. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, we've been so passive that our ex is already planning the wedding for when we reconnect.

Am I being a bit dramatic? I don't know, but I will make my point just the same. Five points to be exact. But before I hit the official list, let me scene set with the two overarching factors that will tender a graceful breakup:

  • Understanding and consideration of both parties
  • Communication that is kind, direct and succinct

5. Presumptive Communication: You know when you just know that something's not right and hasn't been right for a while? When you have so much evidence that things just aren't aligned? One of the most effective ways to gracefully break up is to put the breakup on the table after talking about all of the evidence that would suggest it's the only right answer. And, when you're stating all of this, it is important that you address your partner using words that presume that they agree with your points, to include the need to break up. And hey, before you accuse me of being manipulative, let's be clear. You're trying to do the right thing and you're in full understanding that people are people and they come with different emotions, conflict mechanisms, etc. As long as your intent is good, carry on.

Example: We know we've had a lot of issues and as I'm sure you'd agree, we end up fighting and yelling more than what is healthy for a long term couple. After a lot of thought, I don't see an end-state that doesn't include us breaking up. You deserve someone that gets you and I know I'm longing for the same thing.

Make it graceful by making it as joint of a decision as possible and letting both parties keep their dignity.


4. All Material Things Accounted For Up-Front!: If you've been dating someone long enough to have shared a living space or 'squatted' at their place on a semi-frequent basis, it's likely that you have things of theirs. Come breakup time, you may be thinking about how soon it needs to end and how hard it is to tell them this. And, if there is any resentment or devastation on their side, they will be thinking about all of those things you have that they want back! So account for every bit of it as part of the discussion. This is especially true if you are certain this is a breakup with no chance of reconciliation. A graceful breakup is one that is in full consideration of all emotions so get in front of that potential firestorm at the start.


3. Communicate In Their Comfort Zone!: I often hear that the only way to communicate any bad news is in person and direct and that everything else is the cowards road. I slightly disagree. Hopefully you know enough about your partner to understand their communication preferences and comforts and if you do, use that as your guide. It may be, for instance, that they would prefer an email that lays out concerns so they may digest it before you have 'the talk'. Otherwise, they may respond in a less than pleasant manner or not at all. Some people do shut down when they don't know how to react. We tend to expect that everyone wants and can handle things the same way and it just aint true so let's not pretend it is.


2. Be Mindful of the 'Last to Know' Syndrome: While I understand the need, at times, to talk things over with your friends for a little public soul searching, very little time (and people) should pass between your first discussion about breaking and when you tell them! It's just not cool and incredibly embarrassing when your soon to be ex is the last to know. Would you want to be in those shoes? Exactly.


1. Don't Let Anything Linger: A breakup is a breakup and it's sealed. At least it should be. When you have the discussion with them about calling it quits, you need to be kind yet direct and succinct. The possibility of a reconciliation should not be something you lead them on with. You can't predict the future and nor can they but their crystal ball and tarot cards could be lined with silver based on the words, tone and body language you use when giving the bad news. Just don't. There's nothing graceful about an open-ended breakup that leaves hearts and minds open to a pipe dream. Another side of this is how long the breakup takes. If you find yourself over-explaining every rationale or listening to their side and feelings about everything, you're not doing yourself or them any favors. I've had some clients tell me that they let the breakup conversation go on and on because they didn't want to appear as though they were dismissing their ex's thoughts and feelings. What wasn't considered was that for every minute of your ear they get, they may be getting false expectations that you're understanding and potentially wavering.



Now that I've annoyingly drilled those two thoughts in your head, you may go one with your day which, hopefully, does not consist of a breakup. Sincerely.

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