When it’s time to rearrange our lives to make room for all the new things we’ve been wishing for, that may mean making some very hard decisions. Growth is rarely comfortable and knowing when to walk away from the people and things that are no longer serving us is a skill that is acquired through trial and error. However, when it comes to matters of the heart, things can get very tricky. A relationship does not have to be toxic to no longer be one that is heading in the same direction as the rest of your life. In the absence of a clear reason for wanting to split ways, it can be hard to find the words that can soften the blow. The goal should be to cause as little collateral damage to this person you grew to love as possible and in order to do so, it’s important you choose your words carefully. Behaviors like ghosting can cause real issues for a person and people usually pivot to questioning their own worth when things are left open ended. If you’re planning to have a difficult conversation with someone leading into the new year, here are a few talking points to let them go with empathy.
Acknowledge the feelings you have for them.
Often times when relationships end, the party who is being broken up with can find it hard to believe that their partner still feels anything for them. It can be comforting to be told that the love is still present though it may not be enough to further sustain the relationship. Affirming the things you love about the person to their face can keep them from spiraling into a place of uncertainty about themselves.
If possible, do not place blame.
Assuming that the breakup is happening not to due to some failure on either side, take this time to simply drive home that neither of you are to blame. Not all relationships are meant to last and at this time, you are going in different directions. Acknowledge the time you have spent and the joy you once brought to one another. This may not be the best moment to bring up old arguments or wounds, as your partner is probably feeling a bit tender.
Thank them for being part of your life.
Again, this is in the case that neither of you have done anything to bring on the demise of the relationship (i.e.- cheating, abuse, etc…). It is not only ok but often very helpful to thank a partner for having been part of your life to this point. Even if the hope is that at some point down the line you may be able to reconnect platonically, for now your journey together is coming to an end. Chances are, you two have shared some moments of real joy, romance and love—so giving them their flowers for bringing happiness to your life during the time you’ve spent together can make a world of difference.
Set clear boundaries for what may come next.
If you plan to cut all ties and not communicate with them for some time as you go on your healing journey, say that. If you want to check in from time to time, present that as a possibility. If you want to disconnect on social media, let that be known. Whatever may be on your heart for how things need to look for the sake of both of you having closure and getting on the road to moving forward—now may be a good time to cover it.
A clear reason.
Even if the reason is simply that you cannot meet your partner where they are, try to make that clear for them. Take a moment to fully flesh out your talking points so that you both can have the clarity you need to move forward and heal. Leaving a question in your partner’s mind can sometimes lead to the unfortunate back and forth that often happens when one party is still seeking answers from the other.