Break-Up Skills

Ok, you’ve had enough.

Whatever the reason, you KNOW it’s time to break-up.  What now?  Should you do it over the phone?  Send a text?  Slip a note under the door?  Maybe just move to another state…

Here’s some information you might find helpful:

  • Be in a space that you can be face to face.
  • If you are worried about their response, go to a place where there will be other people.
  • Tell trusted friends/parents why you will be meeting the other person and where for backup/support.
  • Stick with the facts of the relationship.
  • List a few things about the relationship that you liked. The other person is likely to trying to bring up the good things.
  • List the things about the relationship that are unacceptable and are the deal breakers that cause you to want to end it. It does not have to be one single thing or incidence; things add up.
  • When talking use “I” statements not “you” statements, this could cause the other person to go on the defensive.  For example, instead of saying, “you make me feel…” phrase it this way, “I feel … when this happens”.
  • Outline that just because this relationship did not work out doesn’t mean that you want the other person to be unhappy.
  • Agree to have no contact! No phone calls or text, no “just hanging out”, no meeting up later on to see if things are different.
  • Don’t assign blame or shame to one another.
  • Be factual and honest.
  • Be calm and kind.
  • Make your statements clearly and directly.
  • Remember, you do not have to justify, defend or explain.
  • Practice what you want to say, even if it means writing it down beforehand.
  • Speak from your heart, not from a script.
  • Do not allow the other person to try to use emotions to change your mind.

Whether you’re the one initiating the break-up or you’re on the receiving end of the bad news – the fact remains, break-ups are HARD.

Here are a few tips for surviving a relationship break-up:

  • Don’t fight your feelings; write them down or talk to someone you trust. Sometimes a breakup can feel overwhelming, especially if: the breakup was not your idea, you didn’t see it coming, it was a serious/sexual relationship, you were friends with your ex, you continue to run into your ex, you and your ex have mutual friends, you thought your ex was “the one”, and/or your ex starts dating someone else right away.
  • Understand that breakups are a part of discovering who is the right person for you.
  • Treat yourself well or even indulge yourself – then get right back into a routine.
  • Remember that, even if it feels like it, this breakup is not the end of the world. Don’t lose faith in people and healthy relationships.
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs or getting into a new relationship too soon.
  • Exercise, eat healthy and get enough sleep; if you are physically active your heart and mind will heal faster.
  • Don’t rely on your ex for help with things or try to remain friends.
  • Make a list of thing that annoy you about your ex.
  • Know that you can and will survive on your own.

Shelby WhitlockShelby Whitlock is Care Net SoMD’s Outreach and Education Director.  She has developed the REEF (Relationship Essentials that Equip Families) program and is passionate about educating people about healthy relationships.  Shelby is a certified Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist.


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