How to Break Up Gracefully


People, let’s talk about affairs of the heart. I mean let’s really get down to the nitty gritty of it all. Specifically, when they don’t go so well. The internet has a way of letting things live on, exposing stuff you’d much rather have kept private. Last week online, a site posted a stream of text messages a girl sent to a guy she’d dated a couple of times, wondering why he didn’t want to see her anymore. It was painful, cringeworthy reading. Clearly, the girl did herself no favours and the guy involved is most likely contemplating a restraining order. So, when things don’t quite go according to plan, how can you get out with your dignity intact?

Firstly, we must understand that love does crazy things to us. We’re not in our right frame of mind. That goes for both men and women. I challenge anyone who’s ever been in a relationship to not recount a time they did something utterly nuts in the name of love, that they swore they wouldn’t do when they were single. It’s the endorphins or something, they just take over and before you know it, you’re serenading someone outside their window with some Sade, declaring your undying love. You swore you would never be that cheeseball.

New technology is screwing people out of decent break ups left, right and centre. I feel lucky that I experienced my extreme heartbreak pre-social media. Thank the high heavens I didn’t have the ability to text or tweet my heartbreaker. Thank goodness we didn’t even use emails too heavy in those days. The best we could do is repeated phone calls (to their house phone – they didn’t have a mobile), from a blocked number, hoping they wouldn’t realise it was you.

Now that you can live out every painful nanosecond of your heartbreak live online for the world to see, it’s not quite so easy to bow out gracefully. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it should be done.

So, before you go to leave the tenth angry voicemail, send yet another text begging for them to come back, or update your Facebook status with how much you hate your ex, switch off. Seriously, shut everything down and step away.

What needs to happen here is you having a real talk with yourself about logic and reason. And if you can’t have it with yourself, get with someone who can talk you off that ledge. Break ups are hard and they’re upsetting, naturally. But here’s the reality: people are allowed to not be with you. I know that’s hard to hear, especially if you think that person is perfect for you, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. And if they’ve explicitly told you they’re not interested, why would you want to convince them of your relevance in their life? Either you are or you aren’t – there’s not really any middle ground there. If they’re telling you they don’t want to be with you, all you can do is accept it and move on.

It hurts, but the way to deal with that hurt is not to retaliate with it. Making them hurt, making their life difficult – none of that is the answer. Your focus should be on you and your healing. Bitterness and resentment are not going to help you move forward. Constantly arguing with them and rehashing why you broke up won’t change the situation either. It’s a massive blow to the ego to know that someone doesn’t want to be with you but frankly, you’ve just gotta suck it up.

Deep breaths. Put the phone down. Ban yourself from social media for a month or so. Lashing out is not the answer. Hold it down, deal, breathe and keep it moving.

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