You’ve tried and tried to work things out. But still, everything about your relationship seems like time-wasting hard work. The fights are constant and familiar, you’re treading on eggshells, forcing affection.
You feel stuck, and you can’t imagine feeling free – at least, not with this person.
That, according to relationship coach and mediator Anabel Newton, is when it’s time to make the difficult decision to break up with your partner.
Here, The Happy Couple’s Blueprint founder takes us through the key steps in breaking up in an effective, healthy way.
Once you decide to break up, what’s next?
First of all, don’t beat yourself up about it, Newton tells Mamamia.
“Breaking up is never going to fun. There is no need to drag it out. Once you have decided to end the relationship, do it soon, be direct, respectful and kind,” she says.
“The only preparation you need is to stop anything that can be called ‘stringing along’. That means no last-minute booty calls without full and frank disclosure!”
For more on love and healthy relationships, catch Love Life with Osher Gunsberg. Post continues…
What is the best place to break up with someone?
“In person, without an audience and with enough time to allow for you both to say what you need to say and answer any fair questions like, ‘Why now?'” Newton says.
Is it okay to break up over the phone or email?
“No – not unless the majority of the relationship was conducted long-distance over the phone or by email,” Newton argues.
Newton believes body language, facial expressions and tone of voice are crucial in communicating effectively that you want to end the relationship.
“If you feel you absolutely cannot verbalise in person, then draft an email and send it when you are in person. That way the other person can read it and still be able to seek clarification, witness your body language and realise that you are sincere as well as respectful.”
What should you say?
Newton stresses that it's important to know exactly why you are breaking up and be able to communicate that clearly.
"Being honest is respectful of the other person’s feelings. No one appreciates being lied to. However, there is a difference between being honest and being hurtfully blunt," she says.
"Pretend Karma is a real thing; be kind and mature and don’t say anything you would be embarrassed to have repeated back to you. A breakup is not the time to vent, insult, name call or belittle."
How should you prepare for their reaction?
"Give the other person space to feel differently to you," Newton says, noting breakups are rarely genuinely mutual.
"A breakup means the death of a relationship - an actual grieving process is involved. Understand that you have likely gone through a few stages of grief yourself, complete with denial, perhaps anger, eventually ending with acceptance i.e. 'We need to break up'. The other person needs time to do the same - it's not uncommon for the other person to think that things are absolutely peachy when you have felt the opposite for weeks."
The breakup is done. What happens next?
"Accept that the end of your relationship involves a grieving process - letting go may take some time. Take the opportunity to reflect on what you learnt from the experience and what you are taking with you," Newton says. "Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I really want to be in a relationship? If so, why?
- What do I want in a partner?
- What do I have to offer a partner?
- What does my ideal relationship look like?
- Where did this last relationship fall short?
- What did I learn?"
Should you stay in touch after the breakup?
No, Newton argues.
"Give yourself the space to do the reflective process without seeing the other person. Companionship and intimacy are lovely and it can be very easy in the emotional aftermath to fall into the booty-call trap. This is never genuinely 'no strings attached', and very rarely ends well," she says.
"Respect each other’s need for space and don’t try to force a friendship too soon - or at all - if the other person is not interested."
The important exception.
Newton stresses that this advice does not apply to a domestic violence situation.
"Domestic violence is a real and insidious thing and can exist without a hint of physical violence," she says. "If you do not feel safe it's worth calling 1800 RESPECT to get some support and advice.
"The end of a relationship is when a person suffering from DV is most at risk."
For more information about Anabel Newton's program, visit The Happy Couple's Blueprint.
Have you had a healthy, positive breakup experience? Tell us about it in the comments below.