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Smooth Sailing

"How To Break Up: A Guide to Breaking Up"
    By Scott Andrews, Founder


  "I'm going through a healing process and to be quite honest I was clueless as to where to begin and how to heal but [when I read] your article on Healing A Broken Heart, it helps a lot. You should be a psychotherapist, my own therapist doesn't give me this much input on healing." -- Cookie (USA)  

Is It Time To End It? Are you ready to break-up with your partner? Breaking up isn't easy. But it CAN be done. Just remember to do it with LOVE.


Ok, so you've figured out the person you are with ISN'T "the one" for you, at least, not anymore.  How can you manage a "clean" breakup and minimize hurt feelings and move on with the maximum chances for thriving and building abundance and a healthy self-esteem?



If you were once in love, and if you were once good friends, wouldn't it be wise to end it like you started, to the extent possible?


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First, how do you end it?


There are a few good rules to abide by in breaking off a relationship.  


1.  Be nice.  Let them know you enjoyed their company, had some good times, and wish them well in the future.


Maybe you're thinking, "Scott, you're nuts. There's no way I'm going to give her flowers while I'm dumping her." Or, "Scott, are you outta sight or what? I'm not giving him a massage and showing up with garter belts under my dress when I'm telling him to get lost!"


I know, it's hard. BUT, all I can say is that through any difficult situation, as well as any FUN situation, the same basic rule of life still applies: LOVE is the ANSWER!


PLEASE keep in mind that I'm NOT saying "go back and do it again, baby" because I know that cyclic relationships are usually unhealthy relationships. And unhealthy relationships ought not be continued for the better of all parties involved. I'm just saying be kind, be respectful, be good, be polite, be decent. Is it that hard?


2.  Offer encouragement, if possible.  Example:  "I hope you find the love you seek."


3.  This is not the time to tell them everything that is wrong with them.  This is not the time to tell them all the things they messed up on during the relationship.  If you intend to do this, do it with a counselor, not to your partner.  If they ask, "why are you breaking up with me," tell them one or two key things that are unchangeable about the situation or that you see as not working for you or the both of you.  In your description, be very simple (don't say more than you need to), be specific, and be positive by framing each negative around two positives (PNP approach). Don't lie or tell them it's you not them. Just make it about CIRCUMSTANCES rather than personality. That's the nice thing to do.


4.  Initially, do not continue to write them, call them, contact them, or ask for anything back besides the first time you ask for it (Occasionally, people do weird things to "get back" at their ex-lover, such as keeping their stuff.  If this happens and your things are very valuable or quite important to you, and they refuse to return them within two weeks, let them know you'll be alerting authorities unless they return the items within a week.  If they do not return them within this time, follow through and you'll likely get your things back.)  Otherwise, consider it the same as if a thief had stolen from you at random.  You'll get over it, regardless of what they keep.  But minimize all contact during the breakup.


5.  If you work or go to school with your ex, be cordial but let it go at that.  If they decide to be friends with you later, it should be the person who was dumped to reach out and make that happen.  If you were the dumper, rather than dumpee, then you should reach out when you are comfortable that you've moved on from the relationship and let them know you intend to be friends, but I do not suggest doing this during the initial breakup period. I once knew a woman who continued working her old job where her ex also worked. She talked about how she was broken up "but not really out of it" for MONTHS after the break-up. Years, in fact. If working together makes the situation particularly difficult, I suggest finding a new place of employment. It will be better in the long run for both of you.


6.  Remember to smile.  Remember to pray.  Remember that you will get through your break-up and try to keep yourself happy. When you get down, look up - it raises the spirits. If you get bummed out, work out. If you get stressed, play music, learn to paint, learn something new. whatever, just don't sit there and stew in bad feelings.


7.  It is good if you can end up friends.  If you can't figure that out within one year, let it go. When you are comfortable, try to reach out in a positive way, and at least let them know that you wish them well.  This is a positive way to reset closure in case the initial breakup ended with resentments.  It can also be helpful to forgive each other, and to accept each other's offer of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is important to release anger, resentment, and negative bonding cords so that you may love again in the future.  Remember, show mercy.  As you show mercy to others, so it will be that mercy will be shown to you.


8. Don't surprise anybody. If you're thinking about ending it, you ought to have had some discussion about how the relationship isn't working for you. Don't just one day, out of the blue, say "I'm done," and leave. That's not cool. Is that how you'd want to be treated? If things aren't working, you ought to have been communicating what hasn't worked for a period of MONTHS, or certainly at least days. The break-up shouldn't come as a surprise.


9. Unlike in the movie, "the Break-up" starring Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn, don't tell your guy you want to break up, if in fact you really are just trying to get him to notice and show appreciation for you. Breaking up is a terminator. He likely will act as a guy who has been dumped rather than more appreciative (as in the movie) and it will backfire on you, big-time. I once had a girlfriend who did this with me. Finally, one time, I said "enough" to her shenanigans and that was the end.


Now, there is also the situation of being the dumpee, rather than the dumper. If this is you, your situation is harder, because it may have been a surprise (if the dumper didn't follow the guidelines I just gave).


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How do you deal with being broken up with, when this is not what you want (you want to stay together)?


1.  Let your partner know you understand their concerns.  The only way to resolve a disagreement is to FIRST agree with the other party.  This is true in this context, too.  It is important to agree, and validate their concerns/reasons for wanting to end the relationship.


2.  If they are mean, this should not be reinforced with positive response, however, try not to respond in anger yourself.  Remaining positive and mature increases your chances of making up.


3.  Communicate that you would like to continue to date.  If there are issues to work on, commit to a program of success, complete with goals, timelines, and objectives for success.  Let them know that you still love them, even if they do not want to date.


4.  Let them go, but let them know every week or so that you still think about them.  Try not to stalk them, do not force the issue, this will not help your cause.  Let them go and give them the respect of making their own decisions.


5.  Remember to stay busy, keep focused on your own life goals, do things that make you happy, and smile a lot.  Sometimes, faking it until we make it eventually works.


6.  Be kind, even if they were mean to you.  As you show mercy, mercy will be shown to you.


7.  Offer forgiveness of your anger and hurt.  Forgiveness and love are the pathway through hurt, resentment, and anger.


How do you deal with being broken up with, and you know you should have ended it, but you're just sorry/sad it is over, as you did love your partner?


1.  Be nice.  Accept the breakup without fighting, criticizing, putting the other down.  Accept it and respect your partner's decision.  


2.  If they put you down or tell you the things you did wrong, do not tell them your own counter list.  Just let it end, and remember the things that you appreciated about them. Thank them for the good times, and let it go.


3.  Focus on your own life goals, your life purpose, your job, hobbies, interests.  This is the only type of revenge (meaning that of living well) that you should consider.  Live well, be happy, live your life the best you can.


4.  Let them know that you accept the breakup and will move on, just as they are.  Try to signal an intent to be friends if you believe their friendship would be worth having in your life, but let them know that you would prefer some time go by before you make that a reality.


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How can you thrive, and get over your ex, despite the breakup?


Here's my suggestions:


1.  What did you learn?  You can ONLY get over a breakup if you learn from the experience.  There is a reason you chose to date this person, even if their behavior has let you down.  What did you learn from the relationship?  How were you responsible for the letdowns in your relationship?  How were they responsible?  You must first acknowledge these things if you are to remember what happened -- and hopefully not repeat the mistake(s) in the future.  You must also remember what went well.  It is good to know what you loved about your partner, and what they loved about you.  These things might hurt at first, but remembering what went right, and how you grew together, is also beneficial.  I suggest writing these things down, so that you will have a record of what happened.  Many people tend to reinvent the past 6 months or 6 years down the road.  If you only remember the good, your chances of repeating past mistakes are higher.  This record will keep you honest with yourself.


2.  How do you feel? Get over a break up and heal your broken heart by giving yourself permission to feel. It is ok to feel angry, sad, hurt, disappointed, or even happy that you are no longer with your previous mate. Go ahead and allow yourself to feel the way you do, and understand that you will naturally go through a cycle process of hurt, anger, sadness, letting go, and happiness. The cycle will end.  


Begin each day notating ways you can make a difference in the world and end each day being gratitude for the opportunity to live.  It might surprise you how soon you will start recovering and begin to live again the way only you can live. I have found prayer, family support, and clearing out old energy (photos, letters, dust, blankets, clothes) all to be very helpful in getting through the feelings.


3.  Gain closure. It really helps you deal with a break-up if you actually give yourself a break. My brother says, "pop a beer, say f*c! it! Then go on with your life." He also said I couldn't put that on my website. But, hey, I'm the editor, so guess what?! So, get real with yourself, okay? One way to gain closure is to write a letter expressing your feelings, BUT DON'T SEND IT!  (I can't say enough how damaging putting negatives into writing can be -- it will hurt them much more to read it than it will feel good for you to write it.)  If you write out a negative letter, I always suggest ALSO writing a POSITIVE letter, perhaps to God or your inner Spirit/Higher Self, asking for what you DO want in a relationship, for the love you DO want to find and believe you deserve. Knowing what we want is a critical step in learning from the relationship and preparing for future love.  Writing the negative and positive also helps us gain closure.  Another approach to the letter method of recovery is to write a letter to your ex and try writing all the ways they let you down, and how you are sorry for whatever you did.  Then write a letter from your ex to you, as if they wrote it, apologizing for whatever you said they did and thanking you for all that you did for them.  Next, write a letter back acknowledging that they had a right to their feelings and simply letting them go with love. Don't send any of the letters (burn them once you are satisfied with them).  This three step letter process can help give some closure to the situation. Forgiveness is key to your recovery.  Also, mercy.  As you show kindness to others, kindness will be shown to you.  Forgive others and release expectation.  As you do this, you will find your heart open, with hope, to begin your new journeys into new relationships.


3.  Who are you today?  You must know who you are.  You are not a couple.  Your life is not dependent upon being a couple. Break-ups are easier when you can get your own life back on track. It never was.  And, falling in love can happen again.  It is important to realize that who we are is critical to how we are to move forward.  Also, it is important to recognize that we are so very unique.  I emphasize this because sometimes we lose sight on the fact that WE are the ONLY ONE who has our way of seeing and doing life.  Sure, there are other people we can relate to, in terms of what we are going through, but I'm talking about our unique gifts, traits, and skills, and joy we can bring to the world.  This is a NEW OPPORTUNITY to truly recognize and live according to our unique individuality. This is the time to seize the opportunity (carpe diem!) and get a fresh start on life. 


4.  What is YOUR life purpose? What do you want to do with your life? Answering this question is huge to help you deal with your break-up. This is a great time for you to re-focus, and make sure you are living your priorities and building the life of your dreams.  The art of living well is often over-looked.  I could tell you to throw yourself into your work, focus on you, you, you, like much of the other self-help I've read on the topic of recovering from a breakup. The best way to start feeling better about your self is to do something nice for others. But if you don't know your PURPOSE then I strongly suggest you purchase my e-workbook and audio program on The Keys to Discovering Your Purpose. I prayed before I wrote anything in that program, that it would help the reader and listener be able to discover what their higher purpose is and how to best live according to that aim. I'll guarantee it works or give you your money back. I've researched the books out there, and you won't find a better one on the market. I know, shameless marketing plug. But, hey, you got this far, so you clearly care about what I think and feel is a good idea for you to handle a break-up. If you died today, would you look back and say you wish you'd lived more for yourself?  I doubt it. Most people wish they'd done more for others, spent more time with friends and family, pursued that dream they let pass by. If you are one of those people who wishes they'd done more of THEIR dreams and lived more of THEIR life, like I was after my own divorce, I'd recommend you dig into your true life purpose with a workbook tool and audio to reinforce it and LOOK at the ROOTS of who you really are. Look at this breakup as the perfect opportunity to reach for your aspirations.  Go for your dreams.  Make them real.  Love more, and be happy with who you are!  Reach out to people, take chances, be who you want to be:  loving, kind, powerful, sexy, smart, and fun.  


The world is full of opportunity for you to express yourself exactly the way you want to.  Enjoy and make the most of your unique gift of life, let people know you believe in love, and take the time to heal.  Eventually, you will meet someone who you will love and more than likely you will look back at this time as when you laid the foundations of a future you truly deserve.  Best of success to you!


Please note:  the author of this article may not be certified as a licensed psychotherapist -- please consult professional assistance as your situation dictates.

AspireNow offers Life Coaching! Improve your life, relationships, and career, starting today: Sign up now for a free 10 minute introductory call, then you will receive 3 45-minute monthly coaching calls for only $149.95 US (regularly $199.95) per call.  


We welcome your comments and success stories around finding true love and making love more fun and abundant (feedback).


Scott Andrews is a life coach, business consultant, and CEO/Founder of AspireNow (www.AspireNow.com), a site helping people realize their business and personal aspirations. He is a speaker and the author of numerous articles and workbooks on business success, life purpose, smooth sailing relationships, and creating abundant lifestyles. He launched the first interactive self-help program on the Net, called the AspireNow Advisor.


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