Yes, it’s possible to break up with someone without being mean or making the situation more hurtful than it already is. And while every break up will have degrees of messiness and pain, here
Yes, it’s possible to break up with someone without being making the situation more hurtful than it already is. And while every break up will have degrees of messiness and pain, today we’re talking about how to end a relationship in a way that helps everyone involved hopefully heal and move forward in a healthier way.
The key to not being an asshole: honesty. To both your ex and yourself.
Even if your intent is to minimize the damage, dishonesty and poor communication (or none at all – hi, ghosting) are guaranteed to make a bad situation worse. You can’t control someone else’s emotions, but you can control your actions.
So let’s discuss some steps you can take to safely and constructively break up with someone without being an asshole.
In this episode, we’re talking about:
In the event you are in this situation, I hope this episode provides guidance on how to best navigate a break up in a way that is easiest and best for both sides – even if it’s not perfect. Listen, and please share this episode with someone you know who might benefit! And as always feel free to reach out and let me know what you think (contacts below).
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Hey, welcome back to the room to grow podcasts. And today we’re talking about how to break up with someone without being an asshole, because listen, okay, first of all, how, how do you know if you should break up with someone that’s actually going to be its own episode? Because if we start talking about that too,
we’re going to be here all day, but I will just briefly say only you can answer that question. Like there’s no guidebook on any of this. And if you are considering whether or not it’s the right choice to break up with somebody, ask yourself, like, have you communicated your needs openly? Clearly, honestly, with them, have you shown up fully for the relationship?
Have you taken full responsibility for your role in the relationship that part can change everything. And a lot of relationships can actually be salvaged and become even stronger as a result of that. Or maybe you come to the realization that it’s time to part ways, but either way, ask yourself those questions. And again, that’s, that’s another whole topic, but let’s say you you’ve done all the consideration.
You’ve done all the thinking. You’ve, you’ve taken all the action you’ve shown up. Honestly, you’ve done all the things and you’ve come to the conclusion that this relationship needs to end. Okay. This is the stage that we’re at at this particular moment. There’s no perfect script to any of this. That’s the point. That’s why it’s hard because it’s messy.
It’s messy. We, we can’t, we can’t control how the other person is going to react. We are likely going to hurt the other person. We are likely hurting ourselves too. That’s a part of, of relationships that is often overlooked because we, we tend to sort of societaly and culturally spend a lot of time focusing on the person who did the,
the break, who, who was broken up with, right? Like we’ll often kind of depends on the scenario, but usually that’s kind of how it goes. And that can be the one who is expected to be in more pain and all of those things. But I have to tell you, there’s not much in the world that is sadder or even harder potentially then walking away from an almost or walking away from somebody that you love so dearly.
And you just know that it’s not the right fit for a wide variety of different possible reasons. There, there are so many reasons why a relationship might not work out or might not be the best fit. And it’s really fucking hard to walk away in those moments. So both parties can be deeply, deeply hurting from this. And all of it is messy.
It just is breaking up is messy. No matter what side of the equation that you’re on. And these are, there are three questions that I tend to ask people when they are figuring out how to kind of, you know, again, they’ve decided that they want to leave the relationship or end the relationship. And they’re, they’re figuring out how to go about it because I’ve said this before.
I will say this again. We don’t go surround here. I have more to say on that in a minute, but there’s three questions that I want you to ask yourself when you are figuring out how to go about ending a relationship. One, what actions can you take today that you’ll be proud of five years from now. Number two, who is the kind of person you want to call in?
How would they show up in this situation? Number three, how do you want someone to show up for you? How do you want to show up for them? Like these are the things that we have to ask and, and be brutally honest here with yourself and show up in that way, like take the actual actions to match what you want to call in,
because that is going to become your reality. And it’s so important to show honesty, so important to show honesty and something like ghosting is very dishonest. Not, not only to the other person, but to ourselves in a lot of ways too. And it’s incredibly painful like that. That is deeply painful because it’s, it’s this loose end that often people can’t make sense of.
Especially if you know, there’s a really deep connection or something like that. And even if there’s not, it’s just plain rude, it’s just not good behavior. And the age of the internet has made it very easy to ghost people and bounce a downside because that’s, that’s not how we roll around here. Okay. So when we’re here breaking up with somebody not being an asshole,
we are going to go about this with integrity and honesty and honesty is the kindest gift that you can give someone honesty is showing up for yourself. The way you want to be treated. Honesty is an invitation to yourself to take up space and an, to the other person to take up space to it. It opens up both of you and it’s actually,
it does both of you, a deep disservice. If you continue to date someone, you know, is the wrong fit for you in honesty is afraid is the freedom that we crave so deeply, and this shit is hard, but you know, what’s harder not being able to look at yourself in the mirror because, you know, you took the cowardly way out by ghosting,
by disappearing, by not being honest with the other person about how you really felt, trust me, that shit will haunt you. Most of us have an experience of someone that we maybe didn’t treat well in the past, that comes back to our minds every once in a while, even years later, or someone who really didn’t treat you well. And it’s an example to you of how you don’t want to treat someone else.
This is part of the journey of life, and this is difficult to accept, but you are the bad guy in someone else’s story. You’re also the hero for somebody else, but we are all somebody’s bad guy in their, in their story. And that’s a difficult realization to come to. But when we start showing up with more honesty, even in the hard moments and the,
you know, a breakup is one of the hardest moments, this is where you can start to have the kinds of hard conversations, not start obviously, but, but this is where the hard conversations can change everything. My dear friend, Jade, who’s, we’ve done a whole relationship series on the podcast. I’ll reference him in the show notes. He has a saying about easy is earned,
and it’s not that that relationships are ever easy. And, and he uses, he uses the easiest earned phrase and in a variety of contexts because it can apply to virtually anything, but in the relationship context, it’s not, the relationships are ever easy, especially not when it comes to this kind of thing. Like when we’re, when we’re likely causing someone else and potentially ourselves pain,
but there are aspects of this that can become easier. The more we practice it. So if you’re used to ghosting or sending a breakup text or a breakup letter, or just kind of letting communication lapse until they get the message that you’re not into them, like then having a live honest in-person conversation with somebody is probably going to feel even more daunting if you’ve never broken up with someone in a straightforward and honest manner and,
and instead just ghosted them or, or allowed communication to lapse or whatever, then some of these things are going to be a new practice for you, or maybe you’ve often been the one to be broken up with, but you haven’t actually really done much breaking up yourself. I actually dated a guy once who said that most of his other relationships had ended by him slowing communication to such a degree that they would eventually get the message and then break up with him instead of him having to do it.
That was an immediate red flag, by the way. And in, in fairness, he, he was saying it in a very self-aware way that that was, was not a pattern that he wished to repeat, but still, still not, not ideal, but listen, we, we always, you, you’re always one decision away from making a different choice.
And what I want to stress here the most is to offer someone dignity and respect in the way that you end your relationship with them. This is a human being who has trusted you with their vulnerabilities. They have allowed themselves to be seen by you like naked, both literally, and metaphorically. They deserve your honesty and kindness in the way that you end things.
And you can actually break up in such a way that the other person may be hurt, but they still respect you afterwards. Or there, there are cases where they might hate your guts. Regardless. Unfortunately, we can’t control that part. This is, this is part of the problem. This is why breakups are messy, right? Because we either build a worst case scenario in our heads of how terribly it’s going to go.
And it might actually go a little bit better than you think truly like it might actually, especially if you show up with honesty and respect and you offer the other person dignity in the way that you and the relationship, or they might have a really terrible reaction, but either way you can only show up for, for your part. You can only control your part.
You can’t control their reaction. You have to let them have their experience. And, and we can’t change that for them. The only thing that we can do is to show up in a way that we can be proud of and with honesty and integrity, how can you be proud of the ways that you show up? How can you show up with,
and treat people with integrity. This also builds trust in yourself. This builds trust in yourself. When you actually go about having these hard conversations in these really difficult and likely painful moments, let’s say like, you know, that you just, you know, that the relationship isn’t a good fit for, for, it could be for any number of reasons.
Let’s say that you can just see some base level incompatibilities that are not going to change or be malleable in any way that you will be able to compromise on. And the more you continue to stay in that relationship, the more you’re actually compromising yourself. Okay. So you’ve come to these realizations, you’re ending the relationship that is actually, as long as you also go about ending the relationship in a healthy way,
that’s actually showing yourself that you can take care of you, that, that you can show up for you, that you, that you can recognize when you’re in a situation that isn’t serving you, or maybe isn’t that, you know, like isn’t and serving both of you. If it’s not serving you, it’s not serving the other person either. So these are the things that we have to pose for ourselves.
And then when we take the action to match what we know to be true, then that builds trust in ourselves. And there’s, I kind of was almost thinking about, you know, like, why do we, why do we try to find ways out? One idea here is that w we’re simply just we’re avoiding discomfort. Well, again, sure.
It might be easier to just go somebody and let communication lapse or whatever, but in the long-term, you’re still going to feel that you are going to feel that way on you. You absolutely will. And when we avoid discomfort, it just prolongs the inevitable, because then you’ll likely end up in another relationship with similar patterns, and then what’s going to happen that time.
You’re going to do the same thing, or you’re going to have the same thing done to you. Like either way, we’re not, we’re not avoiding discomfort, we’re just prolonging pain. And maybe another way that we’re another reason that we’re trying to find a way out is that we’re trying to avoid causing the other person pain. Well, guess what? They’re going to be in pain either way,
and they’re going to be in more pain. If you don’t treat them with integrity, maybe you’re thinking to yourself, well, I don’t want to disappoint. I don’t want to witness their, their disappointment in me or, or loss in respect of us. Again, that’s still going to happen, but worse if you don’t show up to have these hard conversations.
So all of the reasons that you might be coming up with to try and avoid having an open, honest communication and conversation with somebody about this, it’s actually making it worse. There’s something called peak end theory, which I find fascinating. And it’s in regards to the incredibly biased way that we as humans form memories. So when it comes to any experience,
we tend to remember the highest or most extreme or intense moment or moments, but it’s kind of like, like, again, like this peak of a relationship or of an experience, you know, whether it was positive or negative as well as the way it ended, rather than the, the averaging out of the overall experience throughout the throat, the relationship.
And that’s super interesting because I know that there are relationships I’ve had that ended poorly, or I had a shitty experience with the person, right at the end, both platonic and romantic, to be honest, like not even just romantic relationships, but that’s what I remember most clearly about my relationship with them. I remember sort of be the extreme of, of the,
that, that peak moment, whether it was kind of positive or negative. And I remember the end of it and how it ended. And once we know this, it can actually be an indication to us that sometimes we have to put more effort into actively thinking about the most beautiful moments we shared with someone. Now, this is also fine line because we sort of have to watch our timing on that because nostalgia can send us right back to someone who was not a good fit for us if we allow ourselves down that road too soon.
So we, we do have to be mindful of it, but you may even want to write a letter to yourself about the reasons why you ended a relationship fairly soon after, just so that you can look back on it when you need to. Not because you’re, you’re not hating on the person is nothing like that. You’re just noting why you weren’t a good fit and why the relationship didn’t work so that when those moments of nostalgia maybe come up,
that you can remind yourself of that. But this, this peak end theory is really fascinating and it does apply to any type of experience. So there are even like hotels, and I know like Disney parks actually can use this sometimes too, where as people are leaving, they, they will actually ask rather than just, let’s say, it’s a hotel.
Sometimes some hotels will say, rather than just asking, how was your stay? They’ll say, what was the best part of your stay? Because they’re priming you to remember at the end of your stay, what the best part was to finish on a high so that you then have a better overall memory of the entire experience. It’s, it’s fascinating how this works and how our brains tweak our memories to,
to only remember certain aspects, unless we really challenge ourselves to think about it. So there are a few break up don’ts here that I’m going to list. Okay. When it comes to breaking up, please do not break up via text message, audio message, voicemail, prerecorded video, over social media, like a post-it. Well, maybe think of the post-it was that sex city episode where Carrie gets broken up with on a literal post-it note.
Like he leaves in the middle of the night and says, I’m sorry, I can’t post it. No, post-its okay. But listen, if you seriously, though, if you’re capable of picking up your phone to send a text or a voice note, you’re capable of picking up your phone to actually call the person like a real human being. Now,
ideally have the conversation in person. Yes. I can feel you cringing because yes, it feels harder. By the way, there is an exception to all of this. Everything that I’m saying here is an exception to this is if you feel unsafe with the person and as always, if there are any instances of abuse, this advice in general does not apply.
None of, none of this advice in general applies, your safety is absolutely paramount over everything else. So abuse is a separate conversation, and these are not any, anything I’m saying here are not rules that are applying to any type of abusive relationship, but as long as you feel safe to do so, ideally please have this conversation with somebody in person,
if it’s long distance or, you know, there’s other circumstances that are getting in the way that, that you really can’t go about that then a live phone call or live FaceTime or, or whatever, but in person is definitely the ideal. You know, I’m almost thinking about, I don’t know about, about you, but back in the day when we were getting sex ed in school,
the general conversation was if, if you’re mature enough to have sex and you are also mature enough to have a conversation about condoms and STI. And I’m thinking about that in relation to this sort of like, if you’re mature enough to be in a romantic relationship with another human, then you’re mature enough to tell them with honesty to their face, why you’re ending the relationship.
Right. And I know that’s hard. I know that this is hard. And, and to witness the pain of somebody else’s face when you end it, nobody said this was easy. No one said this was easy. I have had to do that. Trust me. And it’s not a good time, but I ask myself every time, how would I want somebody to show up for me?
And how do I want to show up in the world in all of my relationships, I want to show up with as much honesty and transparency as possible. So I’m going to give you some specific tips here because you’re like, okay, yeah, I’m going to show up with honesty, but, and, and, and in person, but how the hell do I actually have this conversation?
Well, again, there’s no script to this, but the first thing I’m going to tell you is to accept that this is going to be hard and that the other person will probably be hurt. That’s just the nature of the beast. It’s, it’s simply that relationships can be hard, especially the endings of relationships, which by the way, it’s actually new beginnings for each of you as well,
even though new beginnings are often disguised as very painful endings, but except that this is going to be difficult and that you are probably going to hurt the other person and that you are probably also going to be hurt too additionally, and kind of like leading into this is that no matter how much you want the breakup and you know, that it’s the right decision,
you will probably still be hurting a lot post breakup as well. And this is normal. Like even when you know that you’ve made the absolute right choice, or, or maybe you almost start to question it afterwards or something like that, this is really normal. Again, one of the most difficult things we can do in life is to walk away from an almost or someone that we genuinely care about or love deeply because we know it isn’t a good fit for whatever.
The reason that’s really, really hard, be direct with the other person. So be direct with kindness as well, kindness and compassion because honesty, honesty is, is kinder than kindness, but we can still deliver honesty with kindness and compassion. And in relation to that, when you’re having these types of conversations in this, this applies to really having any hard conversation,
whether you’re breaking up with somebody or you’re trying to strengthen the relationship, I’m going to reference some episodes on that episode. 2 41 in particular is all about how to have hard conversations and improve communication. I give you very specific tools in not one, an actual like sentences that you can use. So if you want any sort of script of any kind that can be maybe a place to start to have hard conversations.
So episode 2 41 for that one, but try to use I statements. And what I mean by that is, and again, this applies to any hard conversation, but especially when you’re, when you’re breaking up with somebody and it’s already like deeply painful rather than throwing statements at them like, oh, you, you never do this. Or you always do this.
Just talk about how you feel. So just flip it slightly, just be like, I feel X, Y, Z, or, you know, I, I have been going through XYZ ed. I, I think that we need to end this because blah, blah, blah, whatever that is, but be sensitive to the fact that if you start rattling off an entire list of everything,
that’s wrong with the other person, that’s the kind of shit that can stay with someone for decades. I really do mean that like, we, we can, we often underestimate the power of language and words are so important. Words can lift someone up or they can cut someone down to nothing and you can end the relationship without making somebody feel like they must be a terrible human being or incredibly difficult to love.
I think that’s really important that we all remember that in any of our conversations is to be intentional, very intentional about the words that we use with people. Okay. Have the conversation in private too, not in a public place again, unless you absolutely have to, but if there’s any way to avoid that, it just, it’s a courtesy to allow the other person to have,
have their experience in. And I can understand the temptation to want to do it in a public place because you’re trying to avoid that our conversation. So basically this entire episode is about not avoiding the hard things we have to show up for the difficult conversations. Okay. And for the hard moments and for allowing the other person to have their experience. Another thing here is don’t leave things.
Open-ended, if you want to close this chapter than leaving the door open, we’ll leave them hooked, which might be great for your ego, but it’s actually really shitty for both of you, but, but especially for them, especially for them. And I have to tell you to any of any of the couples that I know of who have broken up,
because most people go through this after a relationship. You’re like, oh, you know, maybe if, if this, this and this changes, and this could still potentially work out, even if they don’t actually say that to the other person, like we’ve all had that conversation in our heads with ourselves. And any couple I’ve ever known who did end up getting back together,
they both usually end up saying that, that they really did have to like completely sever the relationship without sort of hanging on to some sort of hope that they were going to get back together. It usually you kind of have to do that in order for real change to come about. And then maybe you will end up getting back together. I don’t know,
but I can also tell you that if you break up with somebody like an asshole, you are probably not going to get them back together with them. Anyway. So all the more reason to break up with someone in a kind open and honest way, the other, something, something that was really coming to mind with me for this was that in these moments of,
of really difficult, painful moment, it can be instinctual to want to try and make the other person feel better. And my short answer to that is don’t starting to list out all their great qualities and all those sayings, which, you know, it can be great if you’re saying it very genuinely, obviously, but honestly it might actually make them feel even worse because it’s almost just like pity.
You know, it’s like a pity compliment that doesn’t feel good when somebody is breaking up with you at the same time, as like they’re telling you how amazing they are, you, they think that you are, and, and I’m saying this like within reason, like, yes, you, you, you can tell them that, but don’t just like be trying to dry their tears with that.
You know, it, there’s, there’s a fine line. Don’t start just throwing compliments at them, even if you do mean it, because it’s probably not going to make them feel a lot better about the reality of what is actually happening in the moment. And something else that this is one that most people don’t do. And I highly highly recommend doing it is cutting all contact for a period of time.
There are obviously logistical exceptions to this. You know, if you, if you share children, if you’re living together, I completely understand that that is a different conversation, but if it is logistically possible and don’t, don’t fool yourself about whether it’s actually logistically possible or not, by making up excuses, like, I mean, real logistical issues, that’s,
that’s an exception, but otherwise it is actually really important for both your own healing and theirs to cuddle contact for a period of time. Even though that can feel incredibly, incredibly difficult, because you’re, you’re going from, you know, this person maybe like being so close with this person to nothing and it can make you feel completely blindsided and, and them as well,
obviously, but it’s necessary because otherwise it’s sort of like ripping open the wound over and over again, without allowing it any space or time to heal. It doesn’t mean that it has to be permanent at all, like, but just for a period of time. And, and there’s no, there’s no, again, there’s no guidebook on this. I don’t have an exact timeline for you.
You and, and the other person would need to decide that, but it is really helpful for both of you to be able to heal, learn, grow, progress forward, whatever the future holds for you. If you can cut off contact for a period of time and don’t stalk them on social media, please, for your own sake and for the sake of the Sandy of both of you and,
and really like many people are not willing to take this step of cutting off contact. And it tends to once again, prolonged pain for one or both parties, it’s just so normal. I really want to stress this when you’re going through any kind of breakup of a relationship. It is so normal to find this experience to be so deeply painful. And by the way,
length of time, doesn’t really matter. Length of time does not equal depth of connection. I did an entire episode on, on that, that I will reference in the show notes. I can’t remember the number off the top of my head, but, you know, we can be with somebody for years and find the ending of that relationship to potentially not certainly not always,
but potentially be less painful than the ending of a relationship that was six months and time time does not, does not indicate the depth of the connection. And it’s adaptive the connection that will probably determine how painful the ending of that relationship is. But this feeling will not last forever. I promise you that it will not last forever. Feelings are not facts.
Feelings are fleeting, and while they’re painful as fuck, and you have to move through them, not, not around them, not stuffing them down, not any of those things. We, we need to actually feel them. There are so many beautiful things on the other side, waiting for you, and it is temporary and you have the strength to move past it.
I was talking to a friend who came to me for advice about breaking up with, with someone who, which is what, which triggered this entire episode coming together. And I said to her, just as one example, she was ending a relationship with somebody and, and it had been relatively brief and wasn’t even very deep connection at all, but, but she was really sad about it because she really didn’t want to hurt him.
And I said, you know, I, I completely understand that there was a guy that I dated briefly, and I knew as soon as we met it, wasn’t going to be a serious relationship, at least on my side. And I was very open and honest with him about that from the very beginning. And when it became clear that I couldn’t tolerate even continuing like a casual,
more casual relationship with him, I, I was sad for a few days, both leading up to it. And then I, I cried after I left his house. Once I broke it off with him, because I didn’t want to hurt him or cause him pain. And it did hurt him, but there wasn’t much I could do about that other than to be as kind open and honest with him as possible,
which I was, and I am proud of how I showed up in the ending of, of that relationship. And he still, he respected me for the way that I ended it. And that’s how I choose to live my life. That that’s how I will always try to show up in all of my relationships. Am I going to make mistakes? Absolutely.
But I’m always going to do whatever I can to try and challenge myself to show up in ways that, that I, that I can be proud of because that’s what I want in all. My relationships is honesty, integrity, respect, like with anyone like platonic, romantic, doesn’t matter. That is what I want from my relationships. So I’m going to go back to the three questions that I asked you at the very beginning that you can post yourself.
And frankly, these questions actually apply in a lot of different ways, but number one, what actions can you take today that you’ll be proud of five years from now, number two, who is the kind of person you want to call in and how would they show up in this situation? You could also change that into who is the kind of person you want to become.
And how would, how would that version of you show up in this situation? And number three, how do you want somebody else to show up for you? How do you want to show up for them? Like when, when we play these, these hypothetical games with ourselves, but then we actually start living it. You become the thing that you’re seeking.
That’s not just some like manifestation bullshit that’s that is real. You can become the person that, that you want to become, the person that you want to call in. You can embody the traits that you maybe feel like you aren’t as strong in right now, but you can start showing up with those traits today. So rather than ghosting or disrespecting someone,
treat people with dignity, with respect honor, the vulnerability that they have shared with you, the time energy effort that they have given to you, and, and that you have given to them honor that, and you can end a relationship while even though it may still be incredibly painful, there is still respect left at the end of their relationship. Even if you never speak to each other again,
there can still be an honorable way to end a relationship. Okay? So let me know how this goes. I always love hearing from you. So send me a DM over at Emily golf coach. I’m not going to wish you happy breaking up by any means, but I hope that this goes as well as it possibly can. And if you are moving through any kind of breakup or difficult moment to just know that it will not last forever,
it, it won’t last forever. I’m going to list a whole number of different episodes in the show notes. That will be really helpful for you, whether you are currently in a relationship and very happy in one, and just want to make it even better and more fulfilling, or whether you want to get in one. It’s it, there’s something for everybody.
So go check out the show notes and I’ll list everything in there and we’ll see you next time. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast today. It means the absolute world to me, and I’m so grateful for any references in the episode and all show notes. Be sure to jump over to room, to grow podcast.com. And if this episode touched your heart,
it would mean so much. If you would take a quick second to hit subscribe, write a review and share on social media, over someone who really needs to hear today’s message. It makes such a difference to keep this podcast going so I can continue to bring you amazing content and absolutely incredible guests. Be sure to tag me over on Instagram at Emily golf coach,
that I can thank you in real time for listening and connect with you. We’re back every Tuesday and Thursday with new episodes, and I’m looking forward to growing with you.
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