- Breaking up with someone you love will be painful, so you should prepare yourself for it.
- After the breakup, you shouldn't try to be friends right away or consistently stalk their social media.
- You should also try to surround yourself with your friends — rather than jumping into a new relationship.
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Regardless of if you're the one being broken up with or if you're the one ending a relationship, breakups are never fun. Sadly, love isn't always enough to keep a partnership going, and from time to time, you may need to break up with someone you truly love. However, ending a relationship is rarely simple or cut and dry.
Here are 11 tips from relationship therapists for healthily breaking up with someone you love.
1. Give it your all before leaving
Actively trying to better the relationship – such as working on breaking unhealthy habits or trying couples therapy –before you end it for good can help you avoid "could haves" and "should haves" that you might dwell on down the line. "Knowing that you gave it your all to improve the relationship and it did not work will allow you to heal faster," says Ana De la Cruz, LMFT, relationship therapist at Choosing Therapy.
2. Know that it will hurt
There's no need to sugar coat it: breakups are hard, so you should keep in mind that it's absolutely normal to feel pain during this process. While this is scary, it shouldn't be a reason to go back on your decision to break up. "Breaking up with someone you love is probably the hardest decision of your life. You might feel that you are literally pulling a piece of your heart out," says De la Cruz.
3. Know your "why" and stand your ground
Having a clear reason (or reasons) why the relationship needs to end can help you stand your ground throughout the breakup process, says De la Cruz. This way, you can be prepared if your partner tries to convince you to change your mind.
Stay strong and remember exactly why the relationship isn't working out for you. Tune into the logical side of your brain rather than getting overtaken by emotion.
4. Don't try to be friends right away
Taking time apart and temporarily cutting contact can help you heal post-breakup. Know that it's okay that you and your ex won't be friends right away. "Trying to jump into a friendship right away will just be confusing and painful. It's possible to be friends down the road, but only once both parties have processed the breakup and moved on," says Ashera DeRosa, LMFT, relationship therapist at Whole Stories Therapy.
Plus, you should make sure that you want to be friends for the right reasons if you truly want the friendship to last. A 2017 study found that people who wanted to stay friends with their ex for security or practical reasons were more likely to experience positive friendship outcomes opposed to those who wanted to stay friends due to unresolved romantic desires.
5. Set boundaries with your ex
Especially if you can't cut contact or take time away from your ex, such as if you're still on a lease together or need to co-parent, be sure to set reasonable boundaries with them.
For example, DeRosa says you may want to set boundaries surrounding certain topics of conversation. "Both parties will be hurting, but it's not appropriate to process how much it hurts with one another. Likewise, it's not healthy to share the ins and outs of your new single life," says DeRosa. This can lead to more hurt feelings, or sliding back into the comfort of the relationship, even when you know it's not healthy.
6. Set boundaries with your friend group
Whether you don't want to receive new information about your ex or if you don't want to hear them trash talk your ex, don't hesitate to let your friends know where you draw the line. For example, DeRosa says you may ask your friends to avoid giving you updates about things they've seen on your ex's social media. Decide what makes you most comfortable, and stick with it.
7. Avoid social media stalking
It can be very tempting and all too easy to give into stalking your ex on various social media platforms, but this will likely do more harm than good. A 2012 study found that "Facebook Surveillance" of an ex is linked to more distress and negative emotions surrounding the breakup, as well as more sexual desire and longing for the ex.
8. Don't jump right into a new relationship
If you immediately enter a new relationship after a breakup, you won't be giving yourself time to fully process your emotions. "There's a time and a place to move on, but it's definitely not when you're still in your feelings about your breakup," says DeRosa. There's no magic number for how many weeks or months you should wait before starting a new relationship, but you should feel like you've fully processed the breakup and feel more emotionally healed.
9. Spend time with your circle
Of course it's okay to spend time alone, but leaning on your other loved ones will keep you strong through the breakup. "As you heal through the process, surrounding yourself with friends and family and having a strong support system will help you move on," says De la Cruz.
10. Feel your feelings
Breakups can bring about a rollercoaster of emotions. DeRosa says some days you might feel great and full of energy, while on other days you feel super sad –– but both states are okay and normal. Feel your emotions, even the hard ones, instead of pushing them away. Journaling, making art, or talking with friends can help you cope, DeRosa says.
A 2009 study found that spending time journaling about the positive aspects of a breakup helped people get a new perspective on their breakup and feel more optimistic.
11. Seek professional help if you need it
Breakups are a major life change, and it's natural that your mental health may take a bit of a hit during this challenging time. However, DeRosa says if you're having far more difficult days than good, consider speaking to a therapist.
Going through a breakup isn't easy, and you'll need to have patience and be kind to yourself during this difficult transitional time. It's unlikely that you'll feel better overnight, so give yourself (and your partner) the time and space to heal. Ultimately, you'll be able to move on and experience love once again.