If you end the relationship
Maybe you’ve had doubts since the beginning; maybe you woke up with the sudden knowledge that your partner is not the person for you. Perhaps you’re in a rebound relationship, or you’ve realised you just aren’t compatible.
First, be sure that you want to end it. Could it be cold feet? Did you get together too soon after your last break-up – or after you were widowed? If so, perhaps ask for a bit of space to collect your thoughts, rather than demanding a complete full stop.
But if you are sure, kindness is the order of the day. Avoid clichés – ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ never persuaded anyone – except to convince them that it’s definitely them. Calmly explain your reasons; if your partner gets upset, allow them to say their piece, but if they start repeating themselves, gently end the conversation before it goes round in circles – when tempers may fray. If your partner is angry, resist firing insults back; his or her words come from a place of hurt because of feelings for you, so bear that in mind.
Don’t give false hope, but don’t abandon your ex completely. If they contact you, allow them closure: be respectful of their feelings, not dismissive, and agree to meet up if they want to talk in person after the break up. Just don’t let this go on too long, as it could delay them moving on; leave it slightly longer each time before responding, and hopefully it should subside.
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If they end it
You thought it was going well, but out of the blue, you’re on your own again. Yes, it can hurt – a lot. People tend to forget the pain of heartbreak, but it hurts, physically and emotionally. Let yourself wallow. Don’t put limits on how long you’re allowed to feel sad. It’s okay to feel as though you’re mourning – because in many ways, you are.
Try to contact your ex as little as possible. No one should have to be convinced to love you – it should come naturally; if it doesn’t, what’s the point? Don’t try to argue the issue, it won’t work – and if it does, maybe it shouldn’t.
Spend some time on yourself – on your appearance, if that makes you happy, or throw yourself into a hobby. Don’t be tempted to sequester yourself away – spend the attention you would have given your ex on friends and family, or start dipping a toe back into the dating pool, if just for a bit of a confidence boost, or to make new friends. Remember that as bad as you feel now, there will be a day when you look back and can’t even recall the sound of his or her voice.