End of the Road

Breakups are a part of life. Yes, as much as you may not see your life without your mate, it's possible that a breakup could occur. By no means is it inevitable nor a guarantee, but by all means very possible. This is the logic that many people sometimes ignore upon entering a new relationship. Usually, this is due to the fact that emotions may cloud their judgment and in many cases, take control of their decision-making altogether.

Let’s be honest, no one wants a break up. No one voluntarily enters a relationship with the objective of experiencing a break up. However, when these events occur, one must know how to maintain their well being, as well as their peace of mind.

Your position

Before tackling this event, one must first identify their position in the relationship. In short, one must determine whether or not they’re the one breaking up with someone or if they’re the one being broken up with. Thereafter, the motions may vary.

The “Breakup-er”

If you’re the breakup-er, you’re the one initiating the break up. Technically, you have the upper hand. You’ve made a conscious decision to end the relationship and have likely known well before disclosing it to your soon to be ex. However, before conveying this to your mate, ask yourself a few questions:

  • 1.) Am I happy?

If you and your mate simply had a disagreement, is the argument truly worth ending the entire relationship? Often times, out of frustration, we may throw our hands up and walk out. This tactic is never favorable as it demonstrates a lack of commitment. However, if you’ve weighed all options and it’s something you just can’t move past, then so be it. Also ask yourself, if you indeed aren’t happy, do you even know why? If not, taking a moment to gather your thoughts may be a good route before opening your mouth. If you’re definitely unhappy and know exactly why, move right along to the next question:

  • 2.) Have I communicated my unhappiness to my mate?

Informing your mate that you’re unhappy and explaining why is paramount to resolving the issue(s). If you haven’t even talked to your mate about your unhappiness, you haven’t really given the relationship a fair opportunity to be salvaged. If this is the case, maybe reconciliation isn’t of interest to you and you’re just looking for a reason to leave. This would hardly be the recommended route but it’s your life, after all. On to the next:

  • 3.) After revealing my unhappiness, did my mate acknowledge me and/or even make an effort to improve?

Giving the situation time to heal or improve gives the relationship a lifeline. One important factor is whether or not your mate even gave a damn to put forth an effort to contribute TO that lifeline. Improvement can be immediate but in most cases, won’t occur overnight. Therefore, giving the situation sufficient time to get better is best practice. If, however, your mate chose to do nothing and displayed little or no remorse/concern whatsoever, your decision should be that much easier. If this is the case, or if after giving it time to improve things still remain unsuitable for you, the final question remains:

  • 4.) When should I “do the dirty” (break up with them)?

At this point, your decision is made. Bear in mind, the longer you wait, the harder it may become. There’s no reason to allow things to linger. If you wait too long, you may begin justifying and rationalizing all the inadequacies of the relationship due to your emotions exercising self-preservation. In other words, your emotions will influence you to make excuses for the very same things that convinced you to leave in the first place. Try to understand, your emotions want to be safe so as a defense mechanism, they’ll yearn to make sense of things to avoid being hurt. It’s human nature. We don’t want to be hurt so we avoid it at all costs. Emotions run the same route. Yes, it’s possible. So, acting sooner rather than later is most preferred.

Obviously, being the individual initiating the break up comes with mental and emotional advantages. What this means is that mentally and emotionally, you’ve prepared yourself for the break up beforehand, therefore, you have a head start with going through the motions (see further below).

The “Breakup-ee”

If you’re the breakup-ee, you’re on the receiving end of the break up. There really aren’t too many questions to ask yourself. Your mate clearly has made up their mind and there likely isn’t much you could do to change it. And even if there was, ask yourself: would you really want to be with someone who’s arm you had to twist to stay with you? Even still, there may be one or two things to answer to:

  • 1.) Do I want to put up a fight?

It’s clear, your mate wants to leave. Question is, are you going to stop them or just let them walk away? Sometimes, your mate may threaten to leave but secretly, they want you to put up a fight. They want to know IF you’ll put up a fight. As juvenile as it may appear, it occurs sometimes. Reason being, maybe you haven’t shown them enough attention, appreciation, affection or enthusiasm whatsoever. Threatening to leave may have been their last resort to get a response out of you. Yet and still, you aren’t a mind reader. As an adult, playing mind games such as these is hardly the way to get a point across. If this is the case, why fight for someone who would rather play mind games instead of simply communicating?

Now, if it isn’t simply a threat and/or a tactic your mate is using, you have to determine whether or not you believe the relationship is even worth fighting for. Sure, they initiated the breakup, but, did they beat you to the punch? Most often, if your mate is unhappy, there’s a good chance either you were too or at least had a clue that they were. When you really care for someone, you can sense their unhappiness before they murmur a word. Determining the cause of the breakup would probably be wise, leading to the next question:

  • 2.) Is their reason for leaving something I can fix?

Depending on why they’re choosing to leave may determine whether or not the relationship can be saved. If your mate simply feels unappreciated then clearly, you can improve in that area. No matter the gender, listen to your mate. Communication is always key.

Now, if their reason for leaving is far beyond your grasp of improvement, then agreeing to disagree may be best. You can’t change who you are and if your mate is demanding you do so, allowing their dismissal to smooth over may be best. Over time, your mate may have discovered you two are simply incompatible. Mystery, suspense and sheer curiosity are typically what attracts people in the beginning stages. After uncovering that mystery, suspense and curiosity, your mate may have realized that in terms on longevity, you two just don’t mesh well. It’s impossible that you never realized it. In this case, friendship may be better. It most definitely won’t happen overnight, but in time, it will.

  • 3.) Now that the ice has been broken, would I even want to stay?

As aforementioned, did your mate beat you to the punch? It’s very possible that your mate is much more bold and straightforward than you. That being said, maybe they were only saying what you were also thinking all along. A huge error some people make is fighting for something they don’t even want, just for the thrill of arguing. To simplify, some people like to argue, even when they’re wrong. This is especially true for seasoned couples. Although you may know the relationship has long since been over, you still choose to fight. Sometimes it’s because you hate admitting when they’re right about things. Sometimes it’s because you’re upset they beat you to it. Sometimes it’s because you have a control issue and don’t want to “lose ground”. In either case, breaking up would obviously be best because none of those reasons warrant arguments. Clearly you’re incompatible. No matter who initiated it, if you weren’t happy either, be cordial about it and begin the following…

‘Going through the motions’

Every break up, no matter who initiated it, has motions one must journey through. The better one understands these motions, the easier they become. While some steps may be interchangeable, very few (if any) may be skipped altogether. They are as follows:

  • 1.) Acceptance

Acceptance is defined as comprehending that what’s happening is no joking manner and that the relationship is truly over. Usually, accepting the breakup is the last step people go through. However, acceptance is the very first thing that should be practiced. Reason being, if you don’t accept that it’s over, you’ll likely justify any and every reason to revisit the failed relationship. If this occurs, you’ll likely re-enter the relationship and soon be reminded as to why you left.

This stage places you at a crossroad. People often ponder on whether the breakup is temporary or if its actually the real thing. No matter the case, if whatever happened was serious enough to break up over, you might as well assume it’s the real thing. So, the sooner one accepts that the relationship is over the sooner the recovery can begin.

  • 2.) Cloud Nine

During this stage, one lightly recognizes that the relationship is over. It’s surreal and hasn’t quite hit home yet. In the meantime, all the restrictions you previously had are removed. All the privileges that were previously suspended are reinstated. At this point, you begin living your life feeling free with no ties and no obligations. You’re happy, relieved and upbeat. Literally, on cloud nine. During this stage, you’ll likely flirt with the opposite sex more often and even go on a few dates. Sometimes, you may even try to re-connect with old flames you rejected while in the relationship.

If you’re the breakup-er, you’re likely to feel this enthusiasm much stronger than your ex. In most cases, you’re living the happiest you can be. This stage should be cherished because the party will end rather quickly.

If you’re the breakup-ee, there usually is no cloud nine. You’re likely looking for things to take your mind away from the rejection. Fortunately, this is a short-lived stage for you as well. You may not feel as optimistic as your ex does, however, you’ll soon begin to come to terms with reality and move forward.

  • 3.) Depression

This stage is guaranteed for both parties at one point or another. For the breakup-er, depression comes later and in a heavy wave. Usually, it comes out of nowhere. Suddenly, reality hits hard. That temporary feeling of optimism from cloud nine quickly settles as you begin realizing that although you ended the relationship, you actually had feelings for your ex. This stage may arrive sooner than expected if/when you see your ex with someone new. Sometimes, that quick dose of reality is often mistaken for “feeling like I made a mistake” but what really happens is a shift of control. Allow me to explain.

You ended the relationship. Your decision allowed you to feel somewhat superior. Seeing that your ex moved on, much quicker than expected, instead makes you feel inferior. While you were on cloud nine, you believed your ex was still at home dragging themselves around, missing you. Seeing them with someone else may make you realize what a gem you threw away. Some cases are more severe than others but the very first thing one should do after a break up is understand that your mate WILL see other people. They WILL have sex with other people and they WILL smile and gaze into the eyes of someone else. The quicker one accepts it, the better.

For the breakup-ee, depression will likely be the first stage you encounter. You didn’t choose the breakup so your entire world has likely shifted. As messy as things may be, bear in mind, time will rectify things. Depression is a normal stage but also only temporary. People often avoid going to places where they may see their ex or change their routine to take their minds off their ex. While this shows initiative, it’s also ineffective. The best practice is to embrace your ex. Again, allow me to explain.

Rather than avoid seeing your ex, allow yourself to be comfortable with their presence. If you both used to go to a mutual hangout spot, continue going there. Don’t change your routines. Reason being, embracing the pain and reminders will only make you stronger in the end. Many things will remind you of them, their name may come up in conversation and you’ll even see pictures of them, but it all will help you accept that it is truly in the past. When you avoid these things, that’s just it, you’re AVOIDING. Acceptance is necessary so whether you choose to do so now or later is your call.

This stage is where you’re most fragile. Attempts to reconcile may be made by your ex, however, tread carefully. They chose to leave. Sometimes, people may be passive aggressive. They may believe they can dictate when the relationship begins and ends. It’s unhealthy for someone to continue coming and going from your life. Consistency is best. You must remind yourself that commitment means making the decision to stay, PERIOD. That decision shouldn’t be made over and over again, just once.

Final Words

No matter your position, breakups are not easy. It takes a strong individual to achieve the goal of moving on. What one must remember is the only real resolution is: time. The above steps are simply tools to use to accelerate your pace and have a better comprehension of what’s occurring. What it boils down to is what truly makes you happy. Dwelling will only reduce the pace of moving on. Knowing a relationship is over is one thing but knowing WHEN to call it quits is entirely different…

If you have any relationship/friendship questions and would like advice, email them to: verywise1@yahoo.com

Al Steven Harrison Jr.

Read more posts by this author.

Mount Prospect, IL

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