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In these long-term relationships, you likely don't want to leave your partner high and dry (especially if you're living together), but you want to be able to have a clear break so you can both move forward on good terms.
To help guide you, we asked the advice of Dr. Seth Meyers, Los-Angeles-based psychotherapist and author of Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve, on how to end your long-term relationship with class, appropriate boundaries and as little resentment as possible.
1. Bite the bullet: "Usually when a person has gotten to the point of wanting to end a relationship, the other person can sense that the relationship is in trouble. If your partner is extremely surprised, it means that you havent done a good job explaining your feelings all along," says Dr. Seth. Be communicative with your partner. Let them know that you are having doubts, express your concerns and don't let things linger. In a long-term relationship, you have had time to clearly assess whether your relationship has room to grow. If you feel it doesn't, let your partner know sooner rather than later.
2. Choose your timing wisely: Many people are reluctant to break up with their partner in person, and choose to do so in writing, whether that be via a letter, email or (sadly) text message. This could be to give their partner time to let the break up sink in before having to see them in person or to be able to explain themselves without being interrupted or guilted into staying. Dr. Seth recommends giving your partner the respect to have a discussion in person, but being mindful of the timing. "Get into the discussion when your partner isnt already stressed and has time to process the issue. If he has a meeting in an hour or has to go to work, wait until he has plenty of time to deal with the breakup when you finally broach the issue," says Dr. Seth.
3. Be assertive: "Acknowledge that the relationship hasn't been working out for you for a while, and say clearly that you want to end the relationship," says Dr. Seth, adding "Dont make any promises about staying friends or wanting to see each other, because time will tell what kind of relationship you want."
4. Discuss logistics as a team: If you're still living together, it's both of your responsibility to figure out the next steps. "You may be the one who makes the decision to end the relationship, but you need to make all the logistical decisions together," says Dr. Seth. "If one member of the couple wants to end it but the other does not, the initiator of the breakup should offer to make certain sacrifices: moving out and letting the other person keep the place they shared; giving the other person plane tickets that were purchased a while ago for a future vacation," says Dr. Seth in regards to the trickier logistics that have to be figured out. "It is the kindest practice for you to make certain sacrifices if you are the one ending the relationship, so offer to move out or pay any early lease termination fees," says Dr. Seth. It's a small price to pay to have piece of mind and peace between the two of you, despite coming to an end.
5. Online 'decoupling': Couples should have a discussion about how to handle social media awkwardness when they break up. They can send a mass email to friends announcing the breakup but most couples feel more comfortable to let people know as the situation presents itself. I find that remaining friends on social media post-breakup makes the adjustment to singledom more difficult, so couples should consider unfriending each other at least for the first few months when emotions tend to run high.
6. Handling friends and families post breakup questions: If the two of you were together for a while, its not just the two of you who will experience a breakup. "Family members and friends also became attached to you and your partner, so a loss is felt on many levels. When you break up, ask the other person whether its okay to stay in touch with any of his or friends or family you grew to care about," says Dr. Seth. By doing so you're both making the other aware of your boundaries, and can work within them to ensure no one is upset.
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