If you're in a relationship and you're considering ending it, there are specific things to do before you break up with someone. It's worth really thinking about how you want to do it, where you want to do it, and if you want to break up at all. If it's pretty mutual, you have less to worry about, but even if your partner isn't going to be devastated, no one likes to be on the receiving end of a breakup talk.
"If you haven’t broken up yet, but are thinking about it," there are some important things to mull over, Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., aka Dr. Romance, tells Bustle. The psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences is an expert in what not to do after you end things, but she also knows a thing or two about what to do before you call it splitsville.
First on the list: Be kind! There is no great way to let someone down, but there are lots of terrible ways to do it, and these should be avoided at all cost. There has been a lot of buzz these days about disappearing completely or at least not being clear with a partner (or fling) about wanting to end things, but no one likes to be left hanging — or be ghosted on. Say what you need to say, do what you need to do, take care of yourself — and don't put yourself in a position to feel guilty about the way you did things later. Here are Dr. Romance's top tips for people thinking about throwing in the towel.
1. Be Gentle And Upfront
"Be nice about it," says Dr. Romance. Though she suggests that you do it in-person or over the phone, I would say from personal experience that the phone is OK for a casual thing, but in-person is necessary if you actually care about this person (and/or if they care about you).
Another effective method: "Tell your STBE [soon-to-be ex] what you like about him or her," says Dr. Romance. "Offer to be friends if you want to." One caveat: If you don't want to be friends, don't say so — that'll just cause hurt feelings in the future. "Don't string you STBE along, not answering calls and avoiding the confrontation. That's mean." Rather, face the breakup head-on, so you can both move on. "You need to set your STBE free, so he or she can find someone who really clicks, and so you can find your own partner too."
2. Plan Ahead
"If you've been living together, and your STBE has tons of your stuff, you'll need to find a new place to live anyway, so get that all lined up before the big announcement," says Dr. Romance. That said, if you've been with someone for a long time and you spring a breakup and the fact that you already have a place to live lined up on them, it could feel really hurtful. If your partner is just going to be blindsided, you could also arrange to stay with a friend for a while until you plan your next move.
"If your STBE is possibly violent or throws tantrums, have people with you when you go to get your stuff," she says, and if that's the case, by all means line up a new place to live first. "Most tantrum throwers are better-behaved in front of witnesses," says Dr. Romance.
3. Make Your Move
"If you've just been leaving stuff at your STBE’s place, start removing it before the breakup," says Dr. Romance. "If your STBE has borrowed your stuff, make an excuse to ask for it back. If it's minor stuff, like your toothbrush or some cosmetics, forget it, unless your STBE offers to give it back." If it's an amicable breakup, don't worry: You'll both have a chance to get your things back. But keep in mind that "stuff is not worth creating drama," adds Dr. Romance. Agreed.
4. Cut Your Losses
Money is always tricky in a relationship, and can be all the more so in a breakup. "If your STBE owes you money, unless you have a signed note that you can take to court, you may have to kiss your money goodbye," Dr. Romance says. "If he or she is a jerk, what are you doing loaning money to a jerk?" LOL — good question! "If your STBE is nice, he or she will probably pay you back, but if you didn't have a written agreement about the money, there's no way to get it back," she says. "You can ask, but don't count on cooperation from someone you just broke up with."
5. Lean On Your Friends
"If your STBE is a narcissist, a jerk or a problem, your true friends will probably cheer you on," says Dr. Romance. Even if your partner is a wonderful person, we all know that sometimes things just don't work out. No matter what happened between you, let your friends know what is going on and celebrate with them, she says. "Go out for drinks, dinner or lunch to toast the end of a bad affair."
6. Put Mementos On Lockdown
Gather everything that makes you think of your partner and don't look at any of it for a time, Dr. Romance suggests. "Put away mementos. You can decide whether to keep them or not later, after the initial pain is eased," she says. "If you were dating a jerk, block that person from your site, and suggest that your friends make their own decisions about whether to block him or her or not. You can make a ceremony out of changing your status on social media sites," she says.
I will say that having a friend along with you every step of the way will make it easier. Breakups are never easy, but they are definitely eased by friendship — and by keeping yourself away from photographs and other memories for a while.
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