Ending a relationship


Ending a relationship is one of those things that can be really hard, no matter how right it is for you to do. Maybe that's why there are so many bad break up stories around!

If you are breaking up a relationship there are ways you can make it easier:

  • Be honest. You might not want to hurt someone by telling him or her for example that you've met someone else, but you're going to hurt them a whole lot more if you don't tell them, and they find out later on.
  • Be brave. Don't start being really mean to them, hoping that they'll break up with you and you won't have to say anything about how you feel. Ending a relationship is a skill you need to learn as a part of growing up. Take a deep breath, read through this list, and think of a way you can do it yourself.
  • Think long term. You might be tempted to just ring up and leave a break up message on their answerphone, or send an email, but how shamed will you feel if you bump into them later? The least you can do is show them the final respect of talking with them in person.
  • Choose the right place and time. Try and tell them as soon as you are clear about what you want. Choose a time and place where you both have some privacy to talk about it uninterrupted, not in the middle of a shopping mall, or in the queue at Burger King!
  • Be prepared. While you may have been thinking about this for a while, and have had a chance to process it in your own mind and heart, the other person may not have any idea that the relationship is coming to an end. Understand that they may be sad / angry / shocked. Allow them time to say what they want to say too, don't just tell them and run!
  • Be clear. Don't send mixed messages about maybe getting back together in the future to keep them on the hook, or say if they changed you'd consider going out with them again. Either stay in the relationship and work with the other person to ensure its what you both want, or end it, and leave the future to itself. Your soon to be ex isn't there to be a backstop or second choice if things don't work out with the new person!
  • Allow yourself to grieve. You were in the relationship for some reason, at some stage, there was something you wanted or needed that you got out of being in that relationship. Its important to allow yourself private time to grieve that this is now over and gone. The amount of time needed depends on lots of things, like the length, intensity, and expectations of the relationship. Honest grieving allows for closure, and helps you to fully move on.
  • Get support for yourself. Breaking up is hard to do, even when it's the best thing to happen. You might want to spend some time with a good friend afterwards.

If you are the one being broken up with:

  • Get support. Talk with friends, Youthline, family, or some other trusted person about how you feel.
  • Allow yourself to grieve. Whether you expected this or not, it can still feel painful. Allow yourself private time and space to grieve for what is no longer there. Part of this might be not rushing into another relationship for a while.
  • Don't manipulate. Don't threaten to do something hurtful unless they stay with you. Don't go out with someone else to get even. Don't take your anger out on any person, animal, plant or property! If you really want revenge, the best revenge is dealing with your own feelings honestly and fully, and moving on to a better life, whatever that may be for you.
  • Be kind to yourself. Know that relationships ending are a part of life. It doesn't mean that you have failed at anything, or that you are an unlovable person. It could just be bad timing, or the person wasn't ready for a relationship at that point in their life. They could have other things they want to give priority to, or issues that they need to work on before they can be with someone else. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you. Take good care of yourself, just like you would a close friend who was going through the same thing.
  • There is a silver lining. The language we use around ending a relationship is usually quite negative - "breaking up", "getting dumped", "being dropped" etc. The end of a relationship can also be a really positive thing. It might be the impetus for you to do something you'd enjoy, but haven't given much thought to before. It is also infinitely preferable to have a relationship end, than be in one where someone is unhappy, disrespected, or dishonest.

FACT - all relationships end. Relationships can end after a day or a lifetime, and everything in between. Relationships can end by mutual agreement, when one person initiates it, or through circumstance such as accident and death. Endings can happen when someone moves away, or makes another type of big change like wanting different things in their life.

FACT - The sun will still shine, the flowers will still bloom, and the tide will still come in and out. Life is not over, just changed. You may not notice it if you feel down, but those things are still going on around you. Sometime, after you have grieved, you will notice them again. And you can be happy again! Remember that endings are beginnings too. You never know what's around the corner. Often someone even more wonderful (yes it's possible) than the person you were last with!

For further information advice or counselling, contact Auckland Sexual Health Service (09 307 2885) or your local sexual health service. Edited by everybody.

Further Information and Support

Auckland Sexual Health Service
Family Planning Association of NZ

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  • Daze says
    I think it all helps. You can be a coward about it or you can be up-front, honest, and decent about it. It's always going to be hard and it pretty much always will hurt. But the person doing the breaking can make it easier on both of you if they grow some balls and do it properly. I reckon it makes closure and moving on easier.

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