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Getting the Courage to Break Up

by Nina Edwards

Whether it is because of infidelity or a long period of unhappiness, it takes courage to break up. Specifically, it takes emotional courage, says Steven Kotler in “Courage: Working Our Way Towards Bravery” in Psychology Today. The term "breakup" literally suggests cutting a connection, and it is difficult to sever any connection. If done incorrectly, you can be left more emotionally scarred than he is, even if you are doing it for all of the right reasons. However, with patience and emotional skill, you can end your relationship, with as little pain as possible.

You vs. Me

One reasons why it’s difficult is because of the decisions you’ll have to make while taking into account your own as well as your partner’s feelings. Leslie Baxter reports in “Trajectories of Relationship Disengagement” that people are either “other-oriented” or “self-oriented” when planning a breakup. This can lead to being overly focused on avoiding hurting your partner’s feelings, Baxter says in the “Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.” Or it can make you only consider your own feelings and break up swiftly and then simply avoid your partner. So feeling nervous about breaking up may be because you are unsure about how you’ll do it.

Get Support

There is no time when you need your girlfriends more than during a break up. They will help to make this daunting task manageable. After all, breaking up is a process and involves many different decisions, Leslie Baxter says. When formulating your plan, your girlfriends can be one of your biggest assets.

Create Urgency

You probably thought long and hard about breaking up before you decided. However, all this thinking has probably led to some procrastinating. And the longer you drag this thing out, the more painful it can become. One way to convert thought into action is to force yourself to believe that breaking up is urgent. Remember those times that you caught him ogling your co-worker? What about when he lied about not being able to spend time? If you focus more on these negative memories than on what will happen when you utter the words, then you are more likely to have the courage to end it.

Go Neutral

It should go without saying that you should always breakup in person. No emails, text messages, or phone calls. But what is the right location? Avoid going to places that you have spent a lot of time together. So that neighborhood Italian place that you always go to together is out. Instead, look for a neutral place to meet. In particular, a public place, like a park tends to work well. The knowledge that he will probably not overreact with the public around will give you that added ounce of courage.

About the Author

Nina Edwards holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been writing about families and relationships since 2000. She has numerous publications in scholarly journals and often writes for relationship websites as well. Edwards is a university lecturer and practicing psychologist in New York City.

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