When it comes to how to break up with someone, there's no real "right" way to do it. I mean, there are definitely wrong ways (like Twitter), but I always feel confused when someone gets mad about being broken up with in person and then someone else is mad that it happened over the phone — can we all just agree that it sucks no matter what? What I think is far more important than when and where, is the attitude and thought behind it. Unless they're doing it at your wedding or your grandma's 90th birthday, the setting matters a lot less.
So how can you do it in the most human way possible? How can you be mindful during a breakup? "Don't do it by text or by post-it!," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "Today's dating and communication has gotten so 'casual' that people do not always treat each other the way they themselves would like to be treated. My number one tip for breaking up mindfully is to do it clearly and directly."
So if you've decided you're going to do it directly and be a grownup, here's how to do it mindfully:
1. Think It Out
Firstly, don't do it on a whim or a without thinking it through — especially if you've been together a long time. You owe them an explanation and you need to think about how to explain it to them in a kind way, that won't hurt their feelings. You every right to break up with someone you don't want to be with, but they're going to want to know why you've come to this decision.
"Don't drop out and ignore the person you are trying to end things with," Hartstein says. "Don't make them come after you to find out if you are still dating because you have been ghosting them for a week. Make a clear decision. Then be a grown up and tell them that things aren't working out and that it's over. No good comes from doing a slow ignore and fade out. It's disrespectful to them and it's not a conscious, mindful way to be living your own life."
2. React Compassionately
Breaking up isn't just about what you say, it's about how you react afterward, too. Your partner might be angry, they might be sad, or they might shut down completely. Be supportive. You don't need to take abuse from someone, but if they're within the realms of acceptable then try to allow them to let off steam, ask questions, and be upset. Similarly, if they want to go away and be alone, you need to let that happen. Try not to let your ego get in the way and react to their response in a way that's going to make you both feel OK.
3. Respect Their Boundaries
The breakup continues to how you behave with each other afterwards. You don't ever need to spend some time with someone if you don't feel comfortable with them, but if you choose to interact, you need to think about if you're doing it in a way that is OK for both of you— and not leading them on. And if your ex says that they don't want any contact with you, then you really need to respect that. As much as you might be OK being friends, be mindful of the fact that they don't want to and be sure to give them space until they're ready. They might never be, and that's there decision.
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