Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you’re the one initiating the breakup. It’s rarely instantaneous, like in the movies. In real life, breakups are typically much longer, drawn out, and painful, no matter how confident you are in your decision. What makes these transitions even more complicated is when your partner wants to fight for the relationship and you are ready to move on. Here’s how to deal when your partner wants to work things out, but you’re ready to leave.
Do some soul searching
The first thing you’ll want to do is some reflecting on whether or not you actually want to move forward with the split. Journaling, seeking spiritual counsel, spending some time alone, or even going on a retreat can be helpful.
If you’re 100 percent certain, strategize
Once you’ve decided that you’re sure you want to end the relationship, you should map out an exit strategy, ideally before telling your partner that it’s over. The plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it’s advisable to have an idea of where you will live, how your financial situation will change, and what you would want custodial arrangements to look like if children are in the picture.
Don’t give false hope
It can be hard to end a relationship, especially when your partner is fighting to stay together and work things out. It’s natural to still care about or even love a person even though you no longer want to be with them and it can be tempting to say things that will ease their pain. However, it’s best to avoid saying things that may give them the idea that reconciliation is possible if you know in your heart that it’s not.
Remind yourself that your happiness is a priority
Breaking up doesn’t feel good for either party and when you’re the one initiating the split, it’s easy to start feeling like the bad guy. However, it’s important to remind yourself that you’re deserving of happiness and leaving a situation in which you are chronically unhappy doesn’t make you a bad person.
If you’re wavering, consider therapy (solo, couples or both)
When you strongly feel that you want to leave a relationship but are having some doubts, it’s a good idea to seek the help of a therapist. Individual and couple’s therapy can help to bring clarity to your situation so that you can move forward with certainty and confidence in your decision.
Create a list of the reasons you want to go
Having a solid idea of exactly why you need to end the relationship will help you to communicate clearly and firmly when it’s time to have that difficult conversation with your partner. Consider writing them down and perhaps even using them as a way to guide your conversation when the time comes.
Give the transition time
While yanking off the band-aid and getting things over with sounds good in theory, depending on the ties you have to your partner, this may be not sage advice for every situation. If you share living space, assets, or children, it’s probably a good idea to allow time for this transition to fully take place. As licensed professional counselor Alicia Muñoz points out in her essay for Good Therapy, it’s also a good idea to give your partner time to process what is happening.
Consult a divorce or family attorney
If you’re married, share children, or both, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney who specializes in divorce and custodial disputes before announcing your decision to leave. A lawyer can help you to understand what you’re up against in regard to custodial and divorce-related matters and can help you to prepare accordingly.
Deliver the news responsibly
As Dr. Susan Alison explains in her essay for Divorce Magazine, it’s important to communicate your decision responsibly. Under normal circumstances, unless you’re in fear for your safety, it’s better to have the conversation face-to-face. In the event that an in-person conversation is impossible, your soon-to-be-ex is at least worthy of a phone call. Of course, you should be considerate of your partner’s whereabouts at the time of the call. For example, it’s best not to break up while they’re at work or in a public place.
Show compassion, but don’t become a hostage
When initiating a breakup, it’s important to be compassionate. Just because you’ve decided that you don’t wish to continue in the relationship doesn’t mean that your partner is no an enemy or that they are any less deserving of human decency. At the same time, you should not allow yourself to become a prisoner of your compassion. In other words, not wanting to hurt your partner isn’t a good enough reason to stay. You deserve to be happy and if leaving is something that you feel you need to do for yourself, you should do that.