What is the best way to carry out an emotionally difficult task?

Breaking up with someone is never easy. Even if you know it is the right decision and in the best interest of both partners, feelings are still likely to get hurt.

A calm well-intended conversation can turn into an argument as emotions run high or someone can feel hurt, rejected or that the trust has been broken after sharing their life with someone.

Often people who have made peace with their decision still do not know the best way to break off the relationship and wish for some kind of blueprint in how to approach such a difficult situation.

The Independent spoke to Relate relationship therapist Gurpreet Singh about the best way to handle a potentially difficult decision.

Sometimes the difficulties start before the breaking up when someone thinks they have made the right decision but can find themselves nervous or doubting their choice.

“Breaking up really is hard to do,” Singh says. “There are no hard and fast rules about when a relationship is over - it's usually a feeling that builds over time that things just aren't right, that you and your partner aren't making each other happy anymore, that the bad times are outweighing the good. That 'it doesn't feel like it used to.

”The beginning of a relationship can be intoxicating and it's easy to get swept away in a bubble of happiness. But with time and life changes, the intoxication might wear off. It's also possible that you or your partner might change in different directions. The reasons for the drift in the relationship or the distance that develops between you is not always clear. 

“As things deteriorate, both partners could experience a range of emotions like upset, anger, sadness, shock, let down and perhaps even a bit of relief as the reality of the inevitable break-up sets in.”

Singh says the most important factor when breaking up with someone is honesty. It is important to be honest with your partner and yourself – explaining all the reasons you have for ending the relationship and listening to them. It is important not to leave any stones unturned, even if you feel it is nicer to hide certain parts of the truth. He adds (“of course, if a relationship is in any way unsafe then removing yourself is the absolute priority”).

“Talk to them face-to-face, give your reasons and understand theirs,” Singh says. “Don't leave them confused. You might be tempted to be nice and say 'let's just take a break for now', but if you know this is the end then it's kinder to say that rather than drag things out. Don't string someone along by giving them unintentional false hope.”

How to act after a break-up can also be difficult to navigate. Some may never want to see each other again while others will rush to be friends – which can also be harder than both partners may originally think.

 

“Some [partners] are on the same page with the person who's done the breaking-up and are actually happy to move on, whereas others struggle for years with a sense of loss. Whether you remain in contact with each other will really depend on how each of you evolves after the break-up and where you are in your journey. An expectation that you will remain friends might not be realistic but don't feel that you need to cut all contact forever. A post break-up relationship of sorts can emerge as long as you both agree to it."

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