What To Know Before Breaking Up With Someone For The First Time
There are a lot of things in life that are notoriously tough the first time around: riding a bike, pulling an all-nighter, or knitting an infinity scarf, to name a few. One slightly more major thing that's especially hard (and scary) to do if you've never done it before? Ending a long-term relationship — because deciding you want to break up with your partner is only half the battle, and there's a lot that happens after the fact that you might not necessarily anticipate as a breakup newbie.
"Breaking up with someone is usually difficult, whether it's for the first time or not, because you are ending a relationship that once was close and there will be a sense of loss," Dr. Tiffany Towers, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, tells Bustle. "The key to a healthy breakup is honest and compassionate communication with the other person. Relationships don't work out for lots of reasons and each person should be accountable for their part of the breakdown in the relationship. Examining together what went wrong, identifying whether there is an issue that can be resolved (so that you don't actually break up but clear the air and actually strengthen your bond), and validating what the relationship taught you about yourself, are all elements of a healthy breakup and help to put things into perspective."
No matter how much you think you're prepared for a breakup, though, it's hard to know exactly what to expect — especially if it's your first time ever ending a relationship. To (hopefully) make things a little easier, here are seven things you should be aware of before breaking up with someone for the first time, according to experts.
1. The Conversation Will Be Difficult
It probably goes without saying, but if you've never broken up with someone before, you should know that the breakup convo will most likely be super difficult — no matter how many times you rehearse it in the mirror.
"The conversation will likely be difficult," Dr. Tanisha M. Ranger, Licensed Psychologist at Insight to Action, tells Bustle. "How could you tell someone that you no longer want to be with them and have that be an easy thing to say? It will hurt if they try to talk you out of it, and it'll hurt if they just accept it. You will walk away thinking that maybe you should've said something differently or not said it at all. No matter how much you rehearse what you're going to say, looking into that person's face and watching it fall is NOT going to be easy."
2. You Might Have Mixed Feelings Afterward
Even if you're the one who's decided that the relationship isn't working anymore, processing your emotions during a breakup is far from simple — so don't expect to feel 100 percent one way or another.
"Many people who initiate breakups are surprised by the amount of ambivalence, and even regret that they feel after the fact," Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, LMFT, board-certified life coach, and the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling & Coaching, tells Bustle. "Even though you're initiating a breakup, you still need to do the work of grieving, and finding closure. Even though you may have decided that this relationship wasn't sustainable long-term, there were probably many positive things about both the relationship and your ex that you'll miss when they're gone. It's important to recognize that [this] ambivalence is normal."
3. You May Need A Hobby To Focus On Post-Breakup
While some wallowing post-breakup is perfectly OK, at some point, you're going to want something else to focus your thoughts and energy on, which is why it's good to have a plan for how you want to fill your time after you break up with your partner.
"When you first leave your partner — especially for the first time —you'll need something to fill for your time," Marc Falzon, Owner of Zirby Tinder Tips, tells Bustle. "Time that you would be feeling swirls of self doubt, pain, and anxiety. Almost all of my clients have picked up a new hobby or interest that lead them to new opportunities in life... Have a full schedule lined up before you pull the trigger so you can focuses on yourself — and not your ex — in that most painful first week."
4. You Might Doubt Your Decision
Deciding to end a relationship, no matter how long or short it was, is never an easy call to make. Particularly if it's your first time ever ending a relationship, it's normal to doubt your decision and worry that you made the wrong choice.
"No matter what reasons you have for ending the relationship, you WILL second guess yourself once the deed is done," Ranger says. "You will wonder if you pulled the trigger too quickly, if you didn't give your partner enough opportunity to make changes, if that person was 'The One' and you just blew it."
5. You Might Have To Make Changes On Social Media
Thanks to the modern world we live in, our friends and family on social media are often privy to what's happening in our love lives, and consequently, it can be tough to navigate your social media presence post-breakup.
"One of the biggest shocks a person faces when breaking up with someone for the first time is how intertwined his or her relationship is with social media," Justin Lavelle, dating expert and Chief Communications Officer of online background check platform BeenVerified, tells Bustle. "Some people upload hundreds of pictures of them with their partners onto Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms... Be ready to delete these photos from your profiles to avoid awkward conversations between not only your future ex but also future partners."
6. Your IRL Social Life Might Change
Depending on how long you've been with your partner, there's the possibility that your social circles have a lot of overlap — which means that you should be prepared to deal with some serious changes to your social life after breaking up with your partner.
"Sometimes, partners have the same circle of friends," Lavelle says. "Depending on how your relationship ends, this can make social gatherings awkward, and you might have to skip some social invitations in order to prevent unwanted reunions with your future ex. Furthermore, avoid talking bad and spreading rumors about your ex with friends of the same circle. [It] will cause unnecessary drama and force your friends to choose sides."
7. You Might Feel Lonely
The worst part of going through a breakup? Even if you're the one who ended it, that doesn't mean you won't feel upset and lonely after the fact — or even miss your ex-partner at times.
"After awhile of unsuccessful attempts of finding a new romance, you may find yourself lonely and missing your ex," Lavelle says. "Many couples forget the issues that caused their break ups in the first place. Often times, they get back together under the assumption that next time will be better. This will put you in an endless cycle of heartbreak and disappointment. Instead, find a close friend who understands your situation to vent and share your feelings with. Always remember that it takes time to find a partner for a fulfilling long-term relationship."
Unfortunately, getting over a breakup is one of those things that just takes time, even if you were the one whose idea it was in the first place. It's not going to be an easy road, but if you take care of yourself, lean on your friends and family, and keep yourself busy, before you know it, you'll be open to finding love all over again.