How to end a relationship without all the drama

Despite what sappy rom-coms have been projecting in front of us for years, not all endings are happy. They also aren’t something that’s necessarily done with fanfare. We’ve all done it – ended a relationship, quit a job, lost a friend. And many of us have probably been on the receiving end of those scenarios as well – dumped, fired, ditched. But while such occasions are never fun, they also don’t have to be dramatic or negative.

You’re allowed to feel your feelings about these major events, of course. You can and you should. But that doesn’t mean that you have to involve cruel words, tantrums, and nasty fights. You can end things, even really difficult things, with some degree of composure. Here’s how to end something like an adult.

Try to save feeling your feelings for after the event

You can’t just suppress your anger, your hurt, your desire to scream at the top of your lungs for five minutes straight or your need eat your way through a container of Ben & Jerry’s and make a couple of online pity purchases. You should do all of these things. But it makes it easier to end a relationship when, at the moment that you’re walking away, you’re as straightforward and cool and collected as you can be.  Whether a soon-to-be ex or a soon-to-be former employer, its totally OK to be upset. But it makes things easier if you can contain a part of it for after the event, rather than have the ending be a hurricane of drama.

Take deep breaths and be calm

In your public dealings – like for instance, a divorce hearing – when the pressure of the situation starts building and you feel like a volcano ready to erupt, stop yourself. Breathe and count to ten. This actually works. Keep calm and carry on. Keep calm and have a cupcake. Keep calm and go shopping. Whatever your flavor is. Understand that endings are a part of life, and this won’t be the last thing that you have to break off.

Write it down before you say it

It’s so easy to act out of passion, isn’t it? You find out your ex is instantly moving on. Or you hear that a friend or sibling has been talking smack about you. You discover that a co-worker undeservedly received a promotion over you. Immediately, you poise yourself to write the most condescending, scathing, soul-shattering email or text that the digital world has ever seen. Don’t do it. Because like the immediacy that we are all so entitled about, once you press “send,” that’s it. It’s over.

So just don’t go there. OR if you are like me and writing things down makes you feel substantial relief, if it gets all that negative energy out of you and into a Word doc, then let it be just that. Write it, but don’t send it. You’ll be glad you didn’t.

Put yourself in their shoes

This piece of advice may seem hackneyed, but it still holds up. Trust me, perspective is your friend. Just for a few minutes, take your position and reverse it. What if you were on the other end? What kind of conflict and inner turmoil might you be feeling? What outside factors may be leading you to act the way you are? What internal factors? What aspects of the situation are completely out of your control?  If you can consider the perspective of a person with whom you’re at odds, you often end up feeling compassion for them even though you’re feeling the complete opposite.

Be kind

This is the most important piece of advice. The ends of relationships – whether romantic, professional, or friendly – are hard. You’re going to grieve in some way regardless, so why infuse an already difficult period with cruelty? An ex may turn into a friend after some time has passed. An old friendship might be rekindled one day. And a former boss might just be the contact you need to land that dream job down the line.So by being kind to others, you’re really being kind to yourself. And that kind of awareness is a pleasure all its own.

Good luck out there!

[Image via Universal Pictures]

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