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How to have a good breakup

Tags: breakup, breaking up, how to end a relationship

How to end a relationship

Is there a right way to break up with someone? Does it really make a difference how you go about severing the tie that once kept your hearts intertwined?

Well, yes it does, actually. And there are two key variables you should try to keep in mind. The first is how direct you are, and the second is how much concern you express towards the person you’re breaking up with [1].

The more direct you are, the more considerate you’re likely to be. Imagine a scenario where you break up with someone by avoiding them, or drifting away, or even putting all your flaws on display in the hopes that they’ll break up with you.

Not only would that show a lack of compassion on your part, but it’s might also make things harder after you breakup. So, while ending a bad relationship is sometimes the right choice to make, it really is worth trying to do it as kindly as possible.

While it may seem harder, being direct is a much more compassionate way to leave your lover. Be clear that you want to end the relationship, and show your soon-to-be-ex-partner that you care how it affects them. It won’t be entirely painless, but you’ll have a much better breakup as a result [1].

What are the plus points of a breakup?

Even the person who initiates the breakup can feel a sense of loss [2]. The post breakup grieving can be categorised by anger, sadness, and sometimes even anxiety [3]. It can be a very lonely time, which is not surprising, considering how much we share with our partners.

But, in the long run, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, one study showed that two out of three people felt their breakups were a positive or neutral experience overall [4].

For one, breaking up with a partner can give you a new sense of freedom. Your plans are no longer built around somebody else’s routine, and you don’t need to factor someone else in every time you make a diary commitment. You’ve got more time for yourself, and your own interests.

If the relationship wasn’t working and you’d been indulging unhealthy habits or self-destructive ways of thinking, then getting a bit more space for yourself can give you a chance to change things up a bit. Many people end up feeling better adjusted after breaking up with someone [5].

In addition, research shows that single people tend to have more active social lives than those in romantic relationships [4] so a breakup may present the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and family, or even to take up a new hobby and meet new people.

Getting over a breakup

You may have heard lots of advice about avoiding ‘rebound relationships’, and not getting involved in anything too serious too soon.

An interesting study published in 2015 suggests that starting something new might not be as bad as we once thought. The results showed that people entering new relationships shortly after a breakup tend to have higher self-esteem and feel more confident in their desirability.

But, before you get carried away, you might like to know that these relationships don’t often last, especially when people are still hanging onto mixed feelings about their exes [5].

So, before you get into a new relationship, try to make sure you’ve given yourself sufficient time to deal with any feelings that are left hanging. You may need some time to remind yourself of who you are and want you want from life before you get too involved with someone new.

So, what’s next?

On the way out of an unhappy relationship, you may find you’ve lost a bit of your sense of self. Spending time with friends and engaging in activities you like that you might have abandoned or let go of can have a positive effect on your general wellbeing.

In other words, treat yourself. Enjoy life, have some fun, and do something that makes you feel better. You’ve just been gifted an opportunity to start afresh.



[1] Sprecher, S., Zimmerman, C., & Abrahams, E. M. (2010). Choosing Compassionate Strategies to End a Relationship. Social Psychology, 41(2), 66–75.

[2] Rhoades, G. K., Kamp Dush, C. M., Atkins, D. C., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2011). Breaking up is hard to do: the impact of unmarried relationship dissolution on mental health and life satisfaction. Journal of Family Psychology: JFP: Journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43), 25(3), 366–374.

[3] Chung, M. C., Farmer, S., Grant, K., Newton, R., Payne, S., Perry, M., … Stone, N. (2003). Coping with post-traumatic stress symptoms following relationship dissolution. Stress and Health, 19(1), 27–36.

[4] Gerstel, N., & Sarkisian, N. (2006). Marriage: The Good, the Bad, and the Greedy. Contexts, 5(4), 16–21.

[5] Brumbaugh, C. C., & Fraley, R. C. (2015). Too fast, too soon? An empirical investigation into rebound relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(1), 99–118.

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