It happens to every one of us at one time or another – we part from someone we care about, whether it’s a friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, or even a boss. Difficult as it may be, there is a protocol to approaching it “the right way.” How you handle the break up today will affect your future relationships and possibly your image long after you have moved on. Here are a few tips on “proper” break up etiquette and the best way to handle a break up, from beginning to end:
- Do it Face to Face. If you are the person wanting to end the relationship, a person to person conversation is the only option. While it’s much easier to send a (cowardly) text or email, the most appropriate way to end a relationship is to look the other person in the eye. Unfriending someone on Facebook or changing your status also does not count! Meet somewhere public if you fear a scene, or someplace private if you feel that it could be emotional and you want to show the proper respect to the other person.
- Avoid Blame. Whether you are the one breaking up, or the one being broken up with, the way you handle things will leave a lasting impression. Regardless of the situation, don’t go through the “if you would have done this it would be different” conversation. Blaming the other person or pointing out why it didn’t work is futile. It’s done, it’s over and your job now is to exit with grace.
- Take the High Road. Don’t gossip, name call, make snide remarks, play the victim or divulge secrets that were shared between you and your ex. Honor the good times and focus on developing a new normal rather than trying to fix something that is irreparable.
- Purge and Delete. That includes his or her number and your social media relationships…defriending and unfollowing is in order. Running into his or her posts on Facebook and Instagram may impede your healing process. Nothing good comes out of stalking that person online or calling him or her at 2 a.m. begging for a second chance. Do it now…delete.
- Give Yourself Time to Heal. Before jumping into another relationship (rebound!) and possibly doing more damage to yourself and another person, concentrate on improving your own lifestyle. Make a commitment to step out of your comfort zone and into activities that are healthy, productive and fun. Reconnect with old friends, pick up a new hobby and make an effort to move ahead.
- Lower Your Expectations. It would be unrealistic to assume you will completely get over the breakup in a couple of weeks or even months. Don’t be too hard on yourself and allow yourself some time to mourn the loss of someone you cared deeply about…just don’t stay there too long. Remind yourself that you are better off in the place you are today than with someone that was not the right “fit.” You are now free to find someone who appreciates you. There is no doubt that you will look back at some point and be grateful that things worked out the way they did.
- Change the Subject. Blah, blah, blah…your friends love you but they don’t want to hear it anymore. Initially, it’s good to have a close friend(s) you trust and can vent to, but even they get tired of the same conversation over and over again. Putting your attention on something else will help with the healing process and afford you opportunities to move forward with your life. The less emphasis you put on your pain the faster it will subside and turn into something much better for you in the long run.
- Forgive. Climb out of the destructive mud pit of un-forgiveness. No one will benefit, especially not you. You have had a period of mourning the loss, NOW is the time to come to terms with letting go of a person who is no longer an integral part of your life. Even if you must come into contact with this person on a regular basis (i.e. ex-husband and father of your children), you don’t have to shoulder the negative energy that it takes to stay angry. It only keeps you stuck, hurt and will eventually affect your health. By the way, you are much more attractive when you aren’t holding a grudge! Remind yourself that you are in control of your life and everything that happens moving forward is a decision that you make for yourself. You are not a victim and when you forgive, you open the door to a new and better life than you would have ever had with a person that was not right for you.
I’ll close with a friendly reminder that we all need to hear sometimes: Today, right now, you are where you are supposed to be. The future is up to you.