Breaking up sucks — there's no denying that. Whether you've been dating for a few weeks or a few years, admitting that a relationship is over is hard. But what should you never say during a break up in order to end it in the best way possible? Sure, when you're in the heat of the moment, you probably don't care all that much about maintaining a friendship afterward or if you're hurting their feelings. You have your own anger and sadness to deal with. But looking back, you might just regret some things you said during your break up, that could affect the way you look at each other — and what you had — forever. Do yourself and your used-to-be partner a favor, and think before you go off. That way, you'll be able to say goodbye in the healthiest way possible.
Megan Fleming, a sex and relationships therapist, clinical psychologist and founder of Great Life Great Sex, tells me in a phone interview, "I consider anger a secondary emotion to the more vulnerable emotions underneath, such as feelings of rejection, abandonment, accused to name a powerful few." So, embrace those underlying feelings, and take note of the six things you should never say during a breakup.
1. "You never/always do this."
Making big statements like "you never put me first" or "you always behave like such a child," are blatantly unfair and are probably fueled by your anger. You need to focus the conversation on how you feel wronged, as opposed to how they screwed up. Fleming says, "When you can speak from your vulnerable emotions, and not from anger, that’s when your partner can hear you. Come from your own experience of 'I,' never the finger pointing 'you.'"
2. "This reminds me of when you did ___ three years ago..."
People who have been in long-term relationships know the importance of letting things go. However, sometimes it's not so easy to ignore something that bothers you in the moment and it just might creep up later. The solution? "Even if your partner does or says something that bothers you in an otherwise great-day context, it's still better to bring it up as soon as possible," Jessica, a 24 year old in a long-term relationship tells Bustle in an article that sourced tips from long-lasting couples for how to make a relationship go the distance. Basically, if you want to focus on the real reason your relationship is ending, focusing on the small mess-ups that happened along the way won't help.
3. "I hate you."
Again, although you're probably beyond angry — try and put that aside for the time being, if you want them to actually hear anything you're saying. "Anger automatically and reflexively moves you out of the vulnerable pain and into a state of protest where the adrenaline anesthetizes the primary pain," says Fleming. "Partners typically can’t hear you from a place of anger. Either their body/nervous system will reflexively shut down and withdraw or meet you with their own anger." So, before throwing around brash statements like "I hate you," take a few moments to breathe, calm yourself down, and think rationally about what to say next.
4. "This is all your fault."
The blame game is a slippery slope to go down. Even if you do feel that they are at fault, channeling all of those negative feelings against one person can be dangerous for yourself and for the memory of your relationship. Of course you are upset, but do you want to walk away from the situation feeling nothing but bitterness? Instead, try to consider what their point of view might be — and what role you both might have played in the end of your relationship. Elliot D. Cohen Ph.D. wrote on Psychology Today, "Give up your blame claim that someone always has to be blamed and made to pay. Everyday life isn’t a court of law and you aren’t the judge and jury. Accept yourself and others unconditionally. This doesn’t mean you can’t negatively rate your own actions or those of others; but it does mean that you shouldn’t berate yourself or others."
5. "You're a jerk/idiot/loser."
"No character assassinations!" says Fleming. Idiot, loser, jerk — keep those kinds of petty insults in your head, because not only do they make you look childish, they don't accomplish anything. Plus, they're also very vague. The best alternative to getting that anger out is being specific, citing exactly what they did to upset you, and why it was unacceptable and you're ready to move on.
6. "My ex would have/would never have done this."
Whoa, whoa, whoa. If your ex was perfect, you would still be with them! Hello. Bringing up any old relationship baggage, unless it applies to this situation in a direct way, is completely uncalled for. There's no need to compare and try to make any of your past partners look any better or worst, especially when your current relationship is on the outs.
Ending a relationship is bad enough as it is, and there's no reason to make it even harder by saying something you shouldn't.
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