7 Tips for Ending a Long-Term Relationship

1. Have a plan. It’s never going to be an easy discussion, but you can make it smoother by having a plan about how you want it to go. Think about what you want to say, what you’re going to do, and your next steps. If you’ll be moving out, have some idea of when that will be. If you need your former partner to move out, give him/her a fair deadline for that, if it’s safe.

2. Be firm – it’s not a negotiation. If your former partner attempts to plead with you to “work it out” remind your former partner that it isn’t a negotiation – that the decision has already been made and you’re now executing the plan, not asking for feedback. Be as gentle or firm as you need to be to get the point across.

3. Be kind / show goodwill if appropriate. If you hope to have the person in your life after the break-up, go ahead and answer the big “why” that will be hanging in the air. If it will be useful, try to answer questions but do not attempt to give “closure”. The closure must come from the other person (because it is a feeling they want) so don’t get wrapped up in trying to answer every question or feeling guilty about moving on.

4. Be safe. If you fear violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. A counsellor can help you devise a plan a safety plan to get out.

5. You don’t have to decide if you want to be friends. It’s usually best to have a period of space after you break up to see if there is still anything there to build a friendship upon. If your former partner immediately asks to be friends, and you want to, say you’re open to that. But do not get in the trap of instantly changing the name of your relationship to “friends” without also changing the dynamic. That’s how you become someone who is still basically dating someone you don’t want to date.

6. Decide how to tell others. If your former partner wants to tell certain people, or wants to wait for a while to tell others, respect that if you can. If not, say so. As Oprah says, live your truth.

7. Brace for the rollercoaster of emotion. Even if you’re 100% certain that you want to dissolve the relationship, you will likely have moments of sadness, missing, and doubt. Prepare yourself for that so it doesn’t knock you sideways. Take care of yourself. You’ll have more free time, so invest that in yourself. Intensify your gym routine to help process the emotions or plunge yourself in work. You left the relationship for a better life, so grab it!

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