A friendship becomes toxic. A fight with your brother turns into months of not speaking. Your boss is some kind of dragon-person who makes your work day a nightmare. We've all been there. Sometimes it feels like we're surrounded by people who who seem to exist to make our lives miserable, even if those people were once loved and important to us. The problem is, it can be hard to find a way to get rid of them. If my boyfriend is consistently being a jerk to me, I should break up with him. But I can't just break up with everyone else, right?
Wrong! So wrong! Actually, according to Jamye Waxman's new book How To Break Up With Anyone , you can (and should!) break up with anyone who isn't bringing some kind of positive influence into your life. It may not be quite as easy to break up with a family member or best friend as it is to dump a scummy significant other, but knowing how to end non-romantic relationships is vital to living a healthy life.
Need to break up with a roommate, or a mean boss, or a yoga teacher who just isn't cutting it? Regardless of who you have to break up with, Waxman has some tips for you.
Recognize That This Non-Romantic Breakup Is Just As Serious As A Romantic One
Some people may try to make you feel weird about going through a breakup with someone other than a love interest, but a relationship with a friend, family member, or community can be every bit as intense and important as one with a lover, and a breakup can be just as devastating. Unfortunately, those kind of breakups are less talked about in our society than romantic ones, so people may try to downplay what you're feeling. Don't let them! You're entitled to treating your non-romantic breakups like the big deal that they are. So you have every right to approach the situation with the gravity you feel it deserves, and you also have the right to eat three pints of Ben & Jerry's and sob afterwards.
Make Sure You've Really Thought Through Your Decision To Call It Quits
Just because you have one really terrible day at work doesn't mean that you should up a quit your job, just like having one fight with your oldest friend doesn't mean you should throw years of friendship away. So before you decide to officially throw in the towel on a relationship, really give it some thought. If, after a ton of soul searching, you really and truly believe that it's time to end a relationship, then you're probably making the right decision. You're also way more likely to stick to that decision and not flip-flop on it later (which would be seriously annoying and confusing for you and the person you're breaking up with).
Make Sure They Realize That You're Actually Breaking Up With Them
This may sound kind of obvious, but sometimes it can be really hard to read a situation if you're the other person. Make sure you're clear that this isn't just another fight. You've reached the end of your rope and this relationship is really, truly over. Be completely honest and try not to leave with either party feeling as though some part of the situation was unresolved. You've thought about it and decided that you were ready to break up, remember? Don't half-ass it now by leaving the other person confused and unsure of what just happened.
Don't Ghost Your Way Out Of A Relationship
I'm the queen of ghosting, so I kind of felt like Waxman was directly scolding me. Ghosting (also known as being kind of a jerk) is tempting because it's just so easy. You never have to deal with confrontations or (eek!) feelings, you just disappear one day and eventually the other person realizes that you don't have a relationship anymore. But it's also a cowardly move. Unless you're in an incredibly abusive relationship in which having some sort of confrontation would be a mad idea, you should probably woman up and actually break up with someone.
If Possible, Try To Break Up In Person
As much as I hate to admit it, Waxman has a point when she suggests breaking up in person is the best. As she says, "It's the most open and honest way to show them that you care, even if your level of caring has diminished so greatly that you're ready to care a whole lot less." Basically, respect that this relationship was once really important to you and acknowledge that this person deserves a face-to-face ending. (Just to be clear, "breaking up in person" does not equal "get drunk at a party and loudly break up with a friend in front of a bunch of people." Just throwing that out there.)
More People Will Be Affected By This Breakup Than You Might Think
When you break up with someone or something, that action doesn't happen in a vacuum. Your decision may affect the lives of others, or change your relationship with people you may not expect. Breaking up with a friend may lead to awkwardness between you and any mutual friends, or your decision to stop speaking to your sister may strain your relationship with your mother. For anyone breaking up with a community (a church, for example), your now-ex community members may not look at you the same way. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't break up with a toxic relationship because of what others might say! But keep in mind that your decision may ripple in ways that you might not have expected.
Don't Think Too Much About a Future That Includes Reconciliation
It's super-tempting to think, "Maybe one day we'll work things out and be friends/family/etc. again." But remember: You broke up for a reason, and now you both need time to heal. Essentially keeping this person on your back burner won't give you the space you obviously desperately need. If one day you make up, fantastic! But there's a good chance that won't happen, and you need to accept that, too. Or, if you do make up, you may not be as close as you once were. All of these are perfectly fine options, but remember: the time and place for this type of thinking is not right now. Let yourself recover from the break up. And go eat those pints of Ben & Jerry's I mentioned earlier.
Images: Pexels.com; WiffleGif (7)