Relationships go through different stages. As a particular relationship moves along, you may realize that it is not right for you. When you realize this, it is important to be honest with yourself and the other person and not string him along. It can be difficult to say good bye to a partner if he is begging you to stay, but if you really feel that the relationship is over, continuing to be together as a couple doesn't do either of you any favors.
Know What You Want and Need
Before you have the relationship-ending talk, clearly identify for yourself what you need and want in a relationship. Identify why this relationship is not providing these things and why you will not be able to get what you need and want from the relationship if it continues. As you gain clarity, focus not only on your needs and wants but also on the fact that you deserve them and that you will be able to find them in some other relationship at another time. This will help you to remember and explain the problems when saying goodbye.
Understand Why Breaking Up Is Best
Sometimes, relationships just need more work or some additional space in them to become functional. However, when circumstances are not likely to change (such as when life situations diverge, the relationship does not have a future, the relationship is not healthy for one or both of the partners or a lot of negative events between the partners have not been able to be healed) the best course may be for the relationship to end. Understand for yourself why breaking up is the best course of action at this time, then think about the reasons why it is best for your partner, as well. After all, without both persons being committed to the relationship, it will continue to suffer and fall apart. It can be helpful to rehearse telling your soon-to-be ex these reasons, or to write them down, so the difficult emotions that come with a break up don't overwhelm you and make you forget.
Communicate Clearly and Directly
If your partner is begging you to stay, it is clear that he is not ready to hear that you want to end the relationship. His ears are ready to hear glimmers of hope and opportunities to change the situation. Communication in the Real World, an introductory textbook on communication issues, explores the way that communication changes at different phases of a relationship. According to the book, a break up, especially a difficult one, is definitely the time to be clear and direct. Do not leave openings for misunderstandings. Without being brutally blunt, be very direct about breaking up and about why you are breaking up. Be careful to not send mixed messages in what you are saying.
Highlight Why Breaking Up Is Right
When the other person begins begging for you to not break up, listen carefully to what he is saying. Ask yourself whether what he is saying is part of the reason why you need to break up. If there is an unhealthy dependence in the relationship or a sense that you will never be able to feel for the other person the way he feels for you, it may be demonstrated in his response. If the begging highlights the reason you need to break up, use this to add clarity to the situation.
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Based in New York City, Christopher L. Smith has been writing since the 1998 publication of "Honest Talk About Serious Mental Illness." Smith brings professional experience in education, religion/spirituality and mental health, including as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Among Smith's graduate degrees is a M.Div. from Yale.