Breaking up with someone for the first time can be a tough decision. Whether you’ve been in relationships before — but have never ended one — or if this is your first relationship, it can be difficult to know when it’s actually time to end the relationship. You don’t want to be rash, you don’t want to hurt their feelings, but, ultimately, you know when something just isn’t working.
But while it might be hard deciding whether or not to break up with someone, that’s only the beginning — then you have to deal with the breakup itself. And that can be harder than you think.
“Breaking up with someone for the first time is often surprising,” relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. “People know that it’s devastating to be broken up with. What they don’t always realize is that it’s actually pretty upsetting to break up with someone.” So you may need to strap in, because things can get emotional.
No matter how difficult it is to break up with someone, if it’s the right decision then it has to be done. Go into it trusting your instincts and try to make the situation as painless as possible. Here’s what to keep in mind, according to experts.
1. You Might Still Care About Them
Just because the relationship is ending, doesn’t mean you can just turn off how you feel about this person. “Assuming it’s a decent relationship, it’s painful to have to hurt someone that you liked or even loved,” Hartstein says. “Despite the fact that you are ready to end the relationship, you probably still care about this person in some way. So it’s good to be prepared for being a bit upset yourself.” Seeing someone you care about hurting is never easy.
2. You Might Still Be Close
Some couples hate each other after a breakup, but not all do. “The other thing that people don’t always know is that a ‘good’ breakup can actually make you and your ex feel closer than you have in a while,” Hartstein says. “At the point of the breakup people have nothing left to lose. They often share things, good and bad, that they may have been holding back. You might end up having better communication than you’ve had in ages. This doesn’t mean that your reasons for breaking up are suddenly null and void, but it can actually validate the relationship over all in a way that feels nice and meaningful.”
3. It’s Best To Do It When You’re Calm
Breakups can happen in the heat of the moment — but then things can get messy. You might think you didn’t really mean it or that you were just angry. “Too many times people, generally out of anger and impatience, assume that their partner is stubborn and ready to call it quits,” relationship coach and founder of Maze of Love,Chris Armstrong, tells Bustle. Instead, do it when you have a clear head and your partner is calm.
4. Timing Matters
The timing of the breakup can make a huge difference, especially if you’re hoping to be friends with this person in the long-term. “Once you’ve decided to end a relationship, the timing of actually ending it is a critical element to you both moving on and living healthy fulfilling lives,” certified life and relationship coach Nicole Karslake, CPC, tells Bustle. Think about whether they would want it to be public or private, be aware of what else is going on in their lives, and time it to do the least amount of damage.
5. Your Mind Might Try To Talk You Out Of It
Just because you’ve decided to breakup with someone doesn’t mean it will be easy to go through with it. Especially if you see your partner do something nice for you — or if you see them freak out when you say you want to break up — part of your brain might try to talk you out of it. “Once your rational mind has decided to end the relationship, move forward with the breakup quickly before your irrational mind begins to try to justify the alternative,” says Karslake. Stay strong.
6. It Can Mess With Your Routine
Don’t underestimate how much a breakup can affect your day-to-day. “It’s not going to be a hard stop emotionally,” relationship coach at Maze of Love, Lauren Irish, tells Bustle. “For the length of the relationship, this person has been part of your routine and post-breakup that routine changes. Even if the relationship was casual and you’re deciding not to see each other any more, when you have moments you would typically reach out to text or chat they can’t be that person and they won’t be that person. You have to be aware that there will be changes in your everyday routine, even if they’re minor, they are still there and your mind will automatically leap to what had become it’s comfort zone. Just being aware that there may be that instinct to reach out in those moments, regardless of who ended the relationship, gives you the power to decide what the future of the interaction will be.”
It may be that you have to fight those instincts —at least until things settle down.
7. You Need To Think Long And Hard Before Getting Back Together
If you do feel the urge to get back together, make sure to you’re doing it for the right reasons. “The only reason you should ever get back together with an ex is because you’re willing to accept them exactly as they are,” sex and relationship expert Ravid Yosef tells Bustle. “Acceptance, no matter the circumstances, is the only way that you can make it when that thing that was wrong in the first place creeps up again.” So if it’s just that you’re lonely or feeling weird being single, it’s not a good enough reason to get back together.
First breakups are tough, just ask Shania Twain. But it will get better. Just take it easy on yourself and know that it might shake you more than you expect initially. If you feel it’s the right choice, then it’s so important to do it.
Originally posted on Bustle