Q: How do I breakup with my boyfriend if he still loves me?

Longtime reader. I see a lot of blogs on relationships, how to heal them, and how to heal yourself once you’re out of them, but I’d love to hear about the breakup itself. You’ve tried everything, you’re still not happy, the other person’s still attached to you and the relationship. How do you approach it? What attitude do you express? What is there to avoid? Love your thoughts, love your writing. Thanks x

I’ve come to believe that advice is really just something you wish you would have done yourself. In truth, ending a relationship is like trying to really beautifully stab someone in the chest with a bread knife. You can approach it from the back I guess, or the front, you can smile while you’re doing it. It’s probably good to know how you’d like to do it. But it’s going to fucking suck no matter what.

I like this idea thats been swimming amongst the relationship advice folk. Not all relationships are meant to last forever. 

  • Some are short term flings!
  • Some are casual sex, the romance doesn’t stick (or you didn’t want it at all!)
  • Some are summer romances, relationships best suited for a season.
  • Some go the distance, a year or two, but then you realize you’re just not compatible in a specific way.
  • Sometimes you change, and the other person changes, and you can’t change together.
  • Sometimes you look at your relationship and you’re not sure why you’re still there!

There is the desire to really make sure you don’t want to be there anymore. There might even be the question “Am I crazy? Why would I give something this good up?” But something isn’t good if it doesn’t make you happy. Even if it’s beautiful, smart, funny. A soul mate isn’t a soul mate if you don’t want to be with them as much as they, seemingly, want to be with you.

At other times you may find that two people are going about their business being a couple when neither of them are really happy. They may not even be aware that they are unhappy. The relationship has become a part of who they are, a functioning piece of themselves, and not something they are actively and happily participating in. True, they may even be happier with this stagnant relationship than seeking the unknown of active happiness in the dating world.

Some people acknowledge that they are unhappy and instead of being the ones to leave the relationship (because their partner still seems happy) they go out of their way to actively make their partner unhappy so it will be easier for them to want to end the relationship too. Awe, the sweethearts.

So be honest. Why do you want to end the relationship? At times, this might not come easily. You might not have an exact answer. So be as honest as you can be as soon as you can be. I would say that the easiest thing to do is to create distance. That means no social media. No phone or texting. No seeing each other. Care for them actively by not making it harder.

Remember that it is not your job to heal the wound that you have created.

There is a subset of magical couples out there who seem to breakup together, acknowledge their relationship wasn’t working, and continue to be perfectly functional friends. I do not know the magical code for this and I think it is entirely dependent on the people involved and what kind of relationship they had. Don’t press for it and don’t expect it. Respect how they will or won’t want to be involved in your life afterwards, as you’d hope they would respect you.

Other general tips for during and post-breakup:

1. Only speak positively about your ex-partners. Keep the dirt in the dustpan. Respect the part of your life you shared together as much as possible, even if now you feel anger or sadness.

2. Acknowledge the frustration of memories and recall. You’ll likely miss your partner, even if you were the one to leave them. You have to learn to live without them. You have to make new routines, find new friends to rely on, and discover new parts of who you are.

3. In the midst of the breakup don’t say “well, you’ve really convinced me, lets stay together.” If you’re convinced you want to leave someone, leave that person. If you spend a couple weeks apart (I would go as far as a month or two) and you still find yourself having epiphanies like “I still love this person and I realize exactly where we went wrong, I need to at least see if they feel the same way” that’s different. We try to make breakups easier but love is complicated sometimes.

4. If you think about your partner and go “what was I thinking?” use that energy to move forward in your own life. What did you learn from your last relationship? How can you use that to find a better one?

5. Similarly, note how the breakup went. If you did or said something that you think made it worse or better, thats good information to have if you have to leave someone again. In many ways breaking up is a skill that we don’t get much practice at. Some people have more practice at it and (at least from what I can tell) seem to very well articulate why the relationship is coming to an end.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit at the top by hitting ask advice and I’ll answer it on my blog. 

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