Ending a Relationship with Honesty and Civility

By Antonio MacGynn

Does your to-do list look something like this: Walk dog the dog. Water the plants. Break up with my significant other.

No, ending your relationship should not be at the top of anyone's daily calendar. But if the relationship has soured, someone does have to take the steps to bring it to an end. Many relationships, sadly, last beyond their expiration dates simply because it is not easy to break up.

Sometimes a break up happens in dramatic fashion with clothes being thrown out of a second story window. Other times, the relationship just peters out until someone says its caput. How do you go about ending a relationship so that neither party gets hurt?

You need to get clear on why you want to terminate the romance. The immediate reason that jumps into your mind may not be the real reason. You must determine what the real reason is. The next step in ending a relationship is to be honest. In your discussion with your partner you just be true to yourself and to them.

Unless you are in a long distance relationship, schedule time to be together to have this discussion. If long distance does separate you and you can't get together in the near future, this may have to be done on the phone. It is better sooner than to postpone it. This discussion should be respectful and you should dignify your partner by having it in person whenever possible. It should never be in an e-mail or a text message. Not only would that be undignified, it would be cruel.

Be empathetic. This is a difficult conversation for both parties. If you want to remain friends, fine, but it has to be with the proviso all romantic ties are over. Don't put your partner on defense; be compassionate. Tell them you have learned much and will cherish memories you share. You need to "be there" during this talk because you want to compassionately respond to them if they become very emotional.

Things may be said by your partner that are meant to hurt you. Do not take them personally. Your partner doesn't really mean them --- it is an emotional response. Let these words roll off your back. Your partner may need to meet with you more than once to be able to accept the break up. Or they might need space. Give your ex what they need. This is a transition time and different responses by different people are to be expected.

Now that you have had the conversation, don't feel guilty. You are about to start a whole new part of your life that no longer includes a romantic relationship with your ex. In time your ex partner will come to appreciate that you were honest and the break up was best for both of you.

Should you ever consider reconnecting? Does ending a relationship always mean the end, close the book? That is something you have to decide. Virtually all relationships can be saved if certain conditions are met. If you have the time and are willing to make the effort, you can get through this period as an even stronger couple. However, if you are determined to walk away, its best to end a relationship with a clean break and move on.

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