You are a Grown-Ass Woman, and you know that like the song, and maybe also the Bible, and definitely my Aunt Judy, all say: to everything there is a season. There is a time to reap and a time to sow, a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to try something new with your hair and a time to realize that shorty bangs are never happening for you. In love, as in life, this applies. (Deeeeeeeep!) There is a time to giggle on long car trips and a time to sit silently in the passenger’s seat while a poorly chosen song blares on the radio, a time to bone and a time to bitch, a time to wax lyrical about each individual chest hair or mole and a time to say “what’s THAT supposed to mean?”. We’re talking break ups, people. I think we can all agree that they suuuuuper suck. But sometimes they are necessary, otherwise we would all be stuck dating the first person who agreed to go out with us and that is not always the smartest idea. You’re not a bad person for wanting to end things with your guy or gal, but this is a tough emotional place to be, and it’s important to handle this tricky situation like a capital-G Good person. Let’s do it!
Make sure you mean it
This is a real no-take-backsies scenario. You are talking about legit emotions and feelings and insecurities experienced by yourself and a person who was—and ideally remains—one of the most important people in your life. People who break up with people and then Late Night Text their faces off are not good people, is all I’m saying. Think a lot about this decision, and although no one is ever really 100% sure of anything in life, try to be in the 95-99% range before giving your loved one the axe. Anything below can maybe be worked out. Surprise break ups are no fun for anyone, so if you are harbouring some feelings of confusion or doubt, speak to your bf/gf/therapist/best friend/all of the above and see if you can’t work through those feelings. If you have no interest at all in doing so, at least try to understand where they’re coming from, to aid you in the next step. Which is…. (DRUM ROLL)
Explain simply and carefully
EXCITING REVEAL! The drum roll really upped the drama on this otherwise pretty self-evident and bland tip for breaking up. And yet, drum roll or no, it is an important tip. During the actual break up, as in any personal conflict scenario, try to avoid blame-y “you” statements. Instead focus on straight up facts about things that aren’t working. There might be a million petty reasons to break up with someone, but “Honestly, that noise you make when you chew is like a combination between a walrus feeding and two nerds kissing,” is not going to be as effective as “We’ve been having problems understanding each other for a while now.” Think about the real, big failings of your shared relationship and talk about those, instead of petty personal gripes.
Location, Location, Location
Try to picture how your S.O. will take the news. Are they a screamer? A crier? Was this expected? It’s probably best not to do this kind of thing in close proximity to other people, but doing it at home can be awkward too—they might refuse to leave, dragging out the inevitable, or the intimacy of the shared space might distract you from the task at hand. A friend who has recently been through a fairly substantial break up suggested a nice park setting. Take a seat under a tree away from other park-goers and talk it out. This locale probably works best when the weather is Medium-Nice: too sunny and you’ll be surrounded by happy new couples picnic-ing on each other’s faces, too grey and things will go Full Adele faster than you can say “it’s not you, it’s me.” A semi-empty cafe or a car are also alright setttings in which to let someone down gently.
Say no to Ex Sex
I only have one ex, and he very conveniently moved to England immediately after we broke up (it is also why we broke up, so I guess not that helpful to the relationship as a whole), which means I have never engaged in what I think might be one of the worst things that exist, period, in the world, (Aside from periods, maybe.) (The body ones, not the grammar ones, all elements of grammar are equally precious gifts under the Christmas tree of language.) (Yep.) EX SEX. Why delve into this territory? You’re just setting yourself up for a world of hurt or on-again off-again Rachel and Ross-style antics. Do you want to be Ross? Rhetorical. No one wants to be Ross. Not even Ross. In my scientific, universally agreed upon hierarchy of The Friends, Ross ranks below Chandler, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, and Joey, as well as Gunther, Janice, Tag, guest star Brad Pitt and the piv-at couch. All of the umbrellas from the opening credits’ fountain dance rank higher than Ross. Here is a fun mnemonic device for you in case you are wavering in your resolve to never, ever ever get back together with your ex: “It’s their loss, never be Ross.” NVR B ROSS.
Do not try to “win” the break up
Just like you can’t have a successful relationship if only one person is enjoying themselves, the instant either of you tries to “win” the break up, you both lose. Be nice to each other if you have an Accidental Run-In, give each other the space you each need at the times that you need that space, try not to write too many deeply personal and somewhat cruel songs featuring their barely-concealed identity that go on to become chart-topping hits, and lean gently into the knowledge that you were an important part of each other’s lives. The way that you are important to each other might be changing, but you can’t erase the relationship that you had, which is one of many things that has made you who you are today. Try very hard not to rewrite history by focusing on the negative things retrospectively. This is tricky, though, because you must also fear nostalgia. The creeping hand of nostalgia wants to snake up your shoulders and give you a nice back rub while whispering “remember that vacation to PEI?” Do not indulge nostalgia for too long, it can be just as damaging. You made the right choice! Don’t run from it, and espesh do not try to win the invisible race you invented while running from it.
Breaking up is hard to do, but it doesn’t have to be thaaaat hard. Be kind and try to stay mature; use your ears and your brain and not your vagina; no late night texting or sex-ing, and you’re basically good. Honesty and no kissing! Go forth and end thy commitments! (If you want to, no pressure, obviously and please do not ruin any good things you have going.)
Follow Monica on twitter: @monicaheisey