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It's not you, it's me...

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

Breaking up in the digital age

With a divorce rate of 50%, you would think the US leads the world in breaking up, but a few other countries have a higher divorce rate. For example, Belgium's is a whooping 72%. About 5% of the population in the US is married and 2.3% decide to end their vows. Not everyone is married, however, and relationships come in all shapes and sizes...Nonetheless, ending a relationship is not usually something you look forward to. First, it is difficult to put feelings into words and then you worry about how the other person will react.

Keep in mind that as callous as it may sound, any reason is a good reason to end a relationship even if the other person doesn't quite understand it.

The truth is that you should never want to be with someone who does not want to be with you. At least, in theory...but let's not forget the mind works in mysterious ways!

But breaking up is something to take seriously and should be done with empathy and care. That doesn't mean you have to drag the relationship and give the other person false perceptions of what is to come. We all know there is plenty of that and perhaps at times with good reasons. For example, when an abusive dynamic is in play, safety issues are paramount and hence total transparency and honesty may not be the best strategy to follow.

Your "normal" relationship, however, undergoes a series of challenges (stressors) that may or may not make it stronger over time. Sometimes, the relationship just fails. But how to break up in a way that does not make you feel guilty and the other person distraught and angry? Here are some useful guidelines: (X)

  1. Have a reason to break up. Why don't you want to be in this relationship? As mentioned before, any reason is a good reason, but you have to have one. Even out of curtesy, don't leave the other person guessing.

  2. Know that no matter how gentle you are, you will hurt someone's feelings. Have empathy. If you ever were in the receiving end of a breakup, you know how difficult it was. Keep that in mind.

  3. Do it in person! Breaking up with someone over text, email or social media post is never okay. That is no way to communicate serious and life changing feelings. I know it is a lot easier to do it over text but that is the cowardly way out. Maybe you need to rehearse the breakup with someone you trust, but whatever you do, make an effort to do it in person.

  4. Stick to your decision. Even if the other person has a very emotional reaction, do not change your mind, prolonging the inevitable. This is not a good idea; it does not respect your or the other party's feelings. Changing your decision out of pity or pressure will create resentment over time, and resentment is a lot of overcontrolled anger that will explode at some point.

At the end of the day, all relationships present with a learning opportunity. But, in order to not fall into the same, unfulfilling relationship patterns, it may be smart to reflect on your prior relationships, what you looked for, what worked and what did not work. First, reviewing your parent's relationship dynamics may give you great insight into the way you engage with others: how you believe a partnership should work. Curiously or not, we tend to repeat those dynamics. Then, take a relationship inventory:

  • Make a list of past relationships

  • What attracted you to that other person?

  • Period of your life in which you engaged in this relationship

  • What happened? (Evolution of the relationship)

  • What did you learn?

Participating in therapy and/or counseling may open your eyes to maladaptive cycles and help you define what you really long for in a partner. What is important to remember, however, is that maintaining an unhappy or unhealthy relationship never results in a life well-lived. If you think it is time to end that relationship, Z Form can help.

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