Not all relationships last forever. Breaking up is a common part of dating. Relationships end in all kinds of ways, and there’s no wrong way to feel about them. Whether it was a long or short relationship, whether you’re the dump-er or the dump-ee, you have the right to feel how you feel.
Breaking up is part of dating
Nobody likes breaking up. But a healthy relationship requires that either person can end the relationship if they need or want to. Consent — the ability to freely say “yes” or “no” — is necessary in all healthy relationships. Even if you don’t want to break up, a relationship where you couldn’t break up if you needed to would not be a consensual relationship.
I’m in a relationship and I want to break up. What should I do?
It can be hard to know how to end a relationship. Know that there’s no wrong reason to want a relationship to end. You can love someone and not want to date them, or fall out of love entirely. You can end a relationship because you and your partner have drifted apart, or because you don’t feel ready to be serious with them. And you can always end a relationship with someone because they made you feel disrespected, unhappy, or unsafe! Whatever your reason, deciding to break up with someone doesn’t make you a bad person.
It’s common to worry about hurting the person you’re breaking up with. If you’re not sure how to go about breaking up with someone, here are some things to consider:
- If you feel safe, try to do it in private, so they don’t feel put on the spot.
- You might not feel safe doing it in private. If that’s the case, you can meet them in a public place where it’s still possible to have a private conversation, like a coffee shop or public park. It may help to ask a friend to hang out discretely nearby while you do it, in case you need someone to intervene.
- Be honest about your feelings. Use “I” statements like “I feel…”. Try to avoid generalizing about their behaviour. “You always…” and “You never…” might make them feel blamed and hurt.
If you’ve broken up with someone who is threatening you or harassing you, know that their behaviour is not okay, it is illegal, and it is not your fault for breaking up with them. If an ex is making you feel unsafe, it can help to talk to a friend, parent, or someone you trust. They can help you figure out your options for getting your ex to stop, and for keeping you safe. You can also call Kids Help Phone any time at 1-800-668-6868 to talk to a counsellor about your options.
My partner wants to break up, but I don’t. How do I handle this?
Getting broken up with is almost never easy! There’s no wrong way to feel when someone breaks up with you. You might feel hurt, betrayed, scared, or even a little relieved. You could feel angry, or you could just feel numb. Maybe you hope someday you’ll get back together, or maybe you never want to see them again.
It’s okay if you need time to get over it (or if you don’t). Talking to a friend or loved one you trust can help you manage your emotions. So can talking to a therapist or counsellor. Some people seek advice and comfort during break-ups from religious authorities like a priest or rabbi. Some people find it helpful to out and party with their friends, while others are more comforted by staying in and listening to sad music. Everyone is different, and everyone needs different things when dealing with difficult situations. Whatever you need, know that you have a right to your feelings.
Sometimes when people are hurting, they lash out at others. It’s not okay to threaten, harass, stalk, or assault someone for breaking up with you. If you notice yourself doing things like refusing to respect an ex’s request for time apart, threatening them, or anything else with the intention of hurting them, try taking a step back. Ask yourself how you would want an ex to react if you needed to break up with them. If you’re worried about your behaviour, talking about it with a friend, parent, or someone you trust to be honest with you can help. You can also call Kids Help Phone any time at 1-800-668-6868 to talk to someone if you need to cool down or get some perspective.
There is life after breaking up
Many people feel grief after a break-up, even one that they wanted or saw coming. Grief and sadness can sometimes feel like they will last forever, especially when they’re caused by something ending for good.
But as time goes on, it can become easier to look at the situation that caused them from a distance, and feel less upset by it. You may even feel happy that the relationship ended when it did, or grateful to your ex for the good times you had together. And you may find that you learned things from the relationship that you can take with you into your next relationship when you’re ready, if you want.