Never Say These 5 Words During a Breakup, Experts Warn
One expert believes saying this phrase when uncoupling will ultimately make things worse.
As the classic song goes, "breaking up is hard to do." Whether you're delivering the painful news or are on the receiving end of an unexpected split, there's no right way to process the end of a relationship. However, there are a few surefire wrong ways. From ghosting and screaming to the silent treatment, there are many unhealthy behaviors to avoid when calling it quits. One you might not have considered? Your exact phrasing. Read on to learn the five words relationship experts say should never leave your mouth during a breakup.
Avoid saying "this is all your fault" during a split.
Pent-up feelings of anger, sadness, and disappointment can easily devolve into a blame game. "Blame is not healthy," says professional therapist Rich Heller, MSW. "We can feel it and process it, but acting it out in the breakup process allows us to build resentment and avoid personal responsibility."
Participating in a blame game might not only hurt your partner—it could also negatively impact the way you grieve the relationship. "Blame leads to giving away our personal power and sense of choice," says Heller. "It gives our power to others." By accepting responsibility, you'll feel more in control of the situation and future ones like it.
However, do be clear about your reasoning.
Avoiding blame doesn't mean leaving your partner in the dark about your reasons for the split. "It's possible to break up with someone and hold them accountable for behavior that has hurt you without adding shame to the situation," says Ashera DeRosa, a licensed marriage and family therapist. "There's a lot of comfort in a victim narrative, but outside of domestic violence, it takes two to tango, so own your piece."
The clearer you can be in this scenario, the better. "Saying, 'Our values don't seem to be aligning,' 'I can't support the decisions you're making,' or 'I'm feeling too betrayed/hurt/disconnected to move past this,' communicates that you're not okay with what they've done without positing them as a 'bad person' and you as a 'good person.'"
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Speak with "I" statements during your breakup.
The reason those aforementioned statements like "I can't support your decisions" and "Our values aren't aligning" are better than "This is all your fault" is because they acknowledge you in addition to your partner. "Instead of blaming, try to use 'I' statements and remain objective in how both partners contributed to the breakup," says licensed professional counselor Rebecca Phillips, MS.
Additionally, you'll also want to avoid the words "always" and "never." These phrases will put your partner in defense mode and could trigger a nasty—and unhelpful—fight, says Phillips. The word "should" is a similar no-no. "When we use the word 'should,' we are attempting to dictate how another person ought to be according to our own criteria," Phillips notes.
Use the experience to improve your future relationships.
The silver lining of a breakup is that it creates space to find someone new with whom you might be happier. However, that's only if you use your free time to reflect on your split. "Taking ownership of our part without blaming the other person will help us make the changes necessary to avoid repeating the same problematic pattern in our next relationship," says Phillips.
In other words, accepting responsibility will put you one step closer to your long-awaited happily ever after.