It’s tier 4 in England and luckily we can still take a walk outside of our home. I was by the sea when a young couple was drawing a close to their romance. I was invisible to them because they were at the peak of emotions.
So, as a writer desperate for drama in life, I sat on the chair and watched the once young-lovers broke up (I know, I am sorry).
The girlfriend was breaking up with the guy. The guy seemed to have seen it coming because she was cold throughout the Christmas holiday. Even though he sort-of knew, he did come with hope, maybe it’s all a prank? But this last trace of positivity was crushed by her.
From then on, there’s no more “them”. They are walking their paths on their own in 2021.
How to break up with someone? It’s another important lesson that schools don’t teach but every kind human beings must learn.
I know how to do that.
1. There will never a right time to break up
I once attempted to wait until both of our public exams were done before breaking up with a guy who was very wrong for me. The exam was 3 months away and we were studying hard. I felt more resentful as each day passed.
There’s never a good timing to break up. The extra minute you give in to inertia and fear, the more pain accumulated in you, and the bigger pain results to the other person when it actually happens.
It’s like a snowball. If you don’t throw what’s in your hand now, your hands will get colder as you gather more snow, when you throw the ball out, it hits harder on the other person.
The new year is here, so break up relationships that no longer serve either of you.
2. You should’ve learned by now that life’s too short for settlement
During the pandemic, people who have bought a tiny flat in the big city realised they have settled for less because working from a tiny home is tough. For people who haven’t divorced their estranged spouses, the lockdown was pure hell when they were stuck under the same roof. It takes a kick for people to change, otherwise, most people usually coast along.
People are afraid of changes. Why? We are afraid of two things: 1) uncertainty, 2) failure after we change. When we want to leave a job, usually people will warn us that ‘the grass is always greener’. It’s good advice, but it demonstrates how subjective people treat changes. We should consider rationally the push and pull factors when making a decision of change, not fake promises about your future, and hatred of the former life.
We settle in a wrong relationship because we are fearful of changes. But such change can lead to a positive or negative outcome, i.e. if you break up with them, you might be in a better or worse situation. However, if you don’t change, you are definitely in a negative place, it’s certain and 100% predictable.
So why settle?
3. The best way to break up
When you have thought through the pros and cons of the break up rationally and decided that it’s better not to settle, you are fair and respectful to them. It wasn’t an emotional and irrational decision, it was a decision for your wellbeing (and most likely theirs, because settling will also bring them agony). Then you must break up as soon as possible.
Rule 1: The best way to break up is to view it as a standalone event.
It’s not only about when to break up but also all the networks, friendships and everything that tag along with two people being seen as an item that makes breakups difficult. But none of these matter in a grand scheme of things, haven’t you learned that survival is not enough, thriving and free are more important during the lockdown?
Do what you need to do as long as you have thought through it and you deliver with compassion, everything else will work out. People adapt, there will be parties that you aren’t invited but he is, and vice versa. One day, maybe you can be civilised too.
Rule 2: Draw your boundary before you break up
Some people demand a lot of explanation when we break up with them. It’s up to us how much we tell them. It would be nice to be transparent, but there’s also a line to be drawn.
Most relationships are hard to end because either (or both) have overstepped this line, from codependency to tactless intrusion. Maintaining a healthy and secure attachment (i.e. a clear boundary between two people) is the only way a relationship is sustainable.
It’s better if the breakup chat is succinct. You tell them what you need to tell them and stay silent to let them process the emotions. Some people might go nuts and keep weeping, pushing and yelling (I’m not judging, I did that before), it’s important you stick with everything you’ve said and be present and understanding to their reactions.
A person once told me after the breakup chat that they “couldn’t” break up. Because that other person begged and refused to break up, and so they are now “working things out”. I asked if this is what she wanted, and she said no. So they remained in the agony for a while, back and forth in the same shit, until they hurt each other further.
Why did that happen? Here’s the last bit of advice about break up that you must learn.
4. No one is guilty
It’s very easy to feel guilty about it, and the guilt is most acute when you have wronged them. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, there are a reason and a build-up to everything. Whatever that triggers your decision to break up, including cheating, is merely the fuse of a rotten relationship.
If we break up with someone with a sense of guilt, the separation won’t be clean. Feelings and a vague connection will linger for a long time, we might feel responsible for their sadness, addictions or even self-destruction. That could rekindle the dying flame, but it’s only maintained by guilt and agony.
I prefer to view a break up as a chance for both to find someone more compatible. I also think that most people are incompatible at any given time because of bad timing, so it’s nobody’s fault.
Looking back to this guy I loved so dearly and we were both hurt so bad, I think if we are together now, we will be very compatible. But it’s too late, life is a bitch sometimes.
So don’t feel guilty for fate.
The overarching theme
The above provides a pragmatic way to break up with someone and a mentally healthy way to deal with a breakup. But the most important thing is your attitude.
Whatever happened, a person is responsible for their own wellbeing. As long as we have considered the position rationally and thoroughly, and say the difficult words with consideration and compassion, we owe nothing to no one.
Each break up allows us to understand ourselves and what we want better, and each time we are single we allow opportunities to find the right person.
A break up is as much freeing them as it is freeing us.
Are you breaking up this January 2021? Chances are high, as January usually has the highest divorce and breakup numbers!
Previously published on medium
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