13 Breakup Mistakes to Avoid When You Need to End a Relationship
Here's why you shouldn't break up via text or sabotage the relationship on purpose.
For most of us, breaking up with someone is an unfortunate task we have to face at some point in our lives. And while many people believe there is no right way to end things with someone, that's not entirely true. More to the point, there are certainly plenty of wrong ways to handle a breakup, whether it's dumping someone in a text or reaching out to an ex prematurely. So, read on for all the breakup mistakes you should definitely avoid if you're looking to end a relationship.
Tell everyone else before you let your partner know.
As much as you might want to mull over your decision with friends and family, avoid telling everyone about your plans to end things before talking to your partner. Nancy Ruth Deen, a professional breakup coach with Hello Breakup, says there's nothing worse than your soon-to-be ex receiving a "sorry to hear you two broke up" text before you've actually ended things with them. And if you have mutual friends, keep them out of the conversation entirely to avoid putting them in an uncomfortable position.
Send them a text to end things.
Breakups are hard on both parties, but don't hurt your partner further by not giving them the respect of an in-person conversation. "Even though it may seem momentarily easier to break up with someone by ghosting them, or breaking up by text or through social media, old-fashioned etiquette rules and decency still apply," says Christine Scott-Hudson, MFT, owner of Create Your Life Studio. "Break up with your partner in person by having a face-to-face conversation about it."
Point out all the reasons you weren't happy.
Your breakup may be fueled by how unhappy you were in the relationship, but it's not necessary to go through every little thing you were unhappy about. Kevin Darné, author of How to Date Online Successfully, encourages people to remember that it is "not necessary to have a long, drama-filled nightmare in order to execute a breakup." If you are unhappy or looking to date other people, that is "all the reason you need."
Tell your partner all the things you don't like about them.
Just as you shouldn't point out every little thing you weren't happy about in the relationship, don't start listing all your partner's flaws either. "There is no need to be insulting or say things that could hurt their self-confidence," says Lynell Ross, founder of Zivadream. "You don't need to tell your partner about all the annoying things they do, or things you don't like about them."
Say you still want to be friends just so you don't hurt their feelings.
It's hard to see someone you love—or loved at some point—hurt, but as Deen notes, their feelings are most likely going to be hurt regardless. Promising them a friendship you may not actually want and that you're not prepared to maintain is only unkind. It will cause confusion and more hurt on your partner's part when "your actions don't match your words a week or two later." With that in mind, it's best to be honest about what your relationship will (or won't) be after the breakup.
Talk badly about your ex to other people.
Venting after a breakup may be necessary for your healing process, but leave the rude comments about your ex or what they did out of the conversation. "It's not fair to talk about your partner, and if you have mutual friends, what you say could get back to them and be hurtful," says Ross. "Don't burn bridges. You never know when they may show up in your life again, and it's always better for everyone to be on good terms."
Intentionally sabotage the relationship so the other person ends things first.
If you want to break up with someone, break up with them. Playing mind games or doing terrible things like cheating or being cruel to intentionally sabotage the relationship speaks poorly about you and your character, says Sophia Reed, PhD, a marriage and family therapist. Own up to your decision and confront the situation rather than making the relationship unbearable so they break up with you first. "No one deserves to be put through that," Reed adds.
Use honesty as an excuse to be mean.
As Reed notes, many people like to take the "it's not you, it's me" approach to spare their partner's feelings. But if the problem is them or something they did, tell them that. Don't lie for the sake of it, but also know that "being honest" is not synonymous with "being mean." You can tell them the issues you had in your relationship without lashing out. And hopefully, your honest explanation can be helpful and used as an opportunity for them to change and improve in future relationships.
Allow negotiations to be made.
Even though you may want to ease the hurt of your partner in the moment, don't allow them to turn the breakup conversation into a negotiation that's about staying together. "The goal of your soon-to-be ex is to get you to list reasons which they'll try to convince you they can change or address," says Darné. "If you have sincerely made up your mind that the relationship is over then it's cruel to allow them to beg, plead, or lose their dignity."
Do not be "unsure" about why you're breaking up with your partner, says Sara Sedlik Haynes, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California. Before you initiate the breakup conversation with your partner, you need to have a direct explanation for why you want to end things.
"Being clear with your message and avoiding details from the past are important," she says. "Explanations of why you are breaking things off like 'that one time…' or 'I can't handle it when you…' create defensiveness and before you know it, an argument or pleading has started. This will get you nowhere, except creating more hurt and distraction from getting the job done."
Reach out to them afterwards.
It's not uncommon for you to miss your ex, even if you're the one who ended things. But Haynes says you need to avoid "reaching out later because you 'miss them' or something like that." It's not fair, kind, or helpful to your ex, who is working on getting over you and moving on from the relationship—especially when you have no plans to get back together with them.
Stay connected with your ex on social media.
"Remove and block your ex's number from your phone, as well as block them on Facebook and Instagram," says relationship coach April Hirschman, author of Best Breakup Ever! Staying connected with your ex on social media just gives both of you a chance to keep tabs on each other when that's not what either of you need. You don't have to keep your ex blocked on social media forever, but it's a helpful way to keep them from checking up on you 24/7 when the breakup is still fresh.
Immediately get involved with someone new.
Being alone is hard, especially when you're fresh out of a relationship. But according to Carol Queen, author of The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone, the worst thing you can do is rush into a new relationship by getting involved with someone else right away
"Give yourself a little time to grieve, or if not that, just process," says Queen. "Too many people just don't want to be alone, but being alone can be deeply healing. It can also be cozy, nurturing, and even fun."