If you've yet to experience a breakup, there's a good chance that you probably will at some point. According to a March 2016 study, 70 percent of heterosexual unmarried couples break up in the first year of dating and other similar research has found that breaking up even before the two-year mark is more common than you'd think. Although breakup rates begin to drop once couples make it to five year or more, the fact remains that a lot of us probably have a breakup or two in our past and in our future.
But when you start to feel the ground beneath your relationship get a little wobbly and you're pretty sure a breakup is on the horizon, the next step is how you handle it. While you know the aftermath, when your brain is officially going through the breakup, isn't going to be easy, you might want to take a moment, before you totally give up, to ask your partner some questions. For starters, are they feeling this shaky ground, too?
"I think engaging in a conversation about what people want individually in their lives is helpful," licensed psychologist, and founder and CEO of Rapport Relationships, Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes, tells Bustle. "Oftentimes there is no communication or we are dating someone who is not emotionally available enough to have such a conversation. Opening up the dialog will give you the data you need to decide if the relationship is worth saving."
While this just might be a break and not a breakup, it's still important to have your ducks in a row, so to speak.
Here are seven things to ask your partner before you break up.
1Is this really irreconcilable?
Before you end it, relationship coach Chris Armstrong suggests that you ask if this really can't be fixed. "Too many times people, generally out of anger and impatience, assume that their partner is stubborn and ready to call it quits," Armstrong tells Bustle. In other words, you definitely want to hash it out, maybe even to the point of exhaustion, before you make any big moves.
2Have we done all that we can?
If the relationship is important to you and you don't want to lose it, you want to ask your partner (and yourself!) if you've done all that you can to salvage it. For example, getting outside help.
"If it has been a fairly serious relationship," says Dr. Rhodes, "I highly suggest seeking out a couples therapist to help discuss whether ending the relationship is what is needed." It could simply be a rough patch; relationships, a lot of them, have rough patches.
3Is there any room for compromise?
Although all relationships require compromise, every step of the way, before you breakup it's important to really delve into this part of your relationship to see if there truly is no way you and your partner can find a happy middle ground on which you can make things work. According to Armstrong, an open dialogue, in getting to the heart of the matter, may help you both learn that there's some compromise left, giving you something to work with.
4How should we handle this breakup?
In a world where our personal lives are so public, Armstrong feels that discussing how you're both going to handle the social media end of things. For example, do you immediately change your relationship status? It's definitely something to talk about before you do anything.
"We break up, tell the world, and then have to deal with the consequences of everyone knowing, everyone judging, everyone blowing up Snapchat, Instagram, etc. with questions and picking sides," says Armstrong.
Ideally, you should ask yourself and each other if you're ready for that sort of drama.
5Will there be any future communication?
Once you've collected all your belongings from each others home or moved out, if that you happened to have lived together, then comes the question of communication. Will there be any, and, if there is, how are you going to do that?
"If you're ready to break up and there is no chance for reconciliation, I'd like to see more of today's partners, in this social media crazy world, to ask their future ex how they'd like to handle the communication," says Armstrong.
For a long time, my ex and I only communicated through Instagram messenger. Why? Because it was the only thing I hadn't blocked him on, because I wanted him to be privy to all the exciting things I was doing — like posting photos of my misspelled name on Starbucks cups like the rest of the world.
6Have I communicated everything I need?
Because dialogue, especially if you're definitely calling it quits, is so paramount, you want to be up front and ask outright if you've communicated everything.
"We all too often look to our partners to solve all our problems and not having your needs met is not really enough of a reason until you have explored why your partner is not meeting them — chances are we haven’t been clearly communicating our desires, goals, or needs clearly," explains Dr. Rhodes. "So the best question to ask is not to your partner but is to ask, 'Have I clearly and effectively communicated everything that I want and need?' Crying, stonewalling, withdrawing etc… are not considered healthy ways to communicate needs."
7What could I have done differently?
It's a painful question, but it's one that you probably want to ask. If you have the strength to do it in the moment, then go for it. Personally, I have asked this question of my exes before, but waited until well after the fact. "Be introspective and see if you can get some usable feedback that may help you be a better partner down the road," Armstrong says. "Even in cases where one partner did something egregious, it's very likely that somewhere in the relationship, both parties fouled up, even if just a little bit. Ask that question."
It's important to note that there's a good chance that you both contributed to the demise of the relationship in your own way. We're only human and, honestly, humans eff up quite a bit. But at least if you take the time to ask these questions of your partner and of yourself, you'll not only be able to walk away with a sense of resolution, but with knowledge of how to handle things in future relationships.