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How to Break Up When Your Partner Doesn’t Want To

Breakups are never easy. But sometimes you must do what you have to, even if your partner insists on holding on to your relationship.

how to break up when your partner doesn't want to

It doesn’t matter how much you used to be in love, how much you used to be attracted to your partner or how happy you were. The former light of your life has swiftly devolved into someone you can no longer stand. You tried all the tricks of the trade – tried to do new things with them, tried to be more spontaneous, more exciting – but nothing seems to work.

It’s time to be honest with yourself, hold up your hands and admit that it’s time to move on. But what if this decision is an entirely one-sided one? What if your partner just isn’t prepared to throw in the towel? [Read: The easiest way to get over a breakup is if you do it first]

A good separation vs. a bad separation

There are two types of separations where only half of a partnership wishes to break up: good separations and bad separations. A good separation involves taking the time to make sure that the consequences aren’t harmful to your partner, giving them the respect they deserve, and trying your best to help them through it. And let’s face it, if you’ve been together for a while, faced life together on an almost daily basis, then it would be pretty disrespectful, if not downright nasty, not to take as much care and consideration as possible in trying to achieve this end. [Read: How to break up with someone you still love]

A bad separation, on the other hand, involves getting it over with as quickly as you can, in order to make things as easy for yourself as possible – a course of action that any half decent person would wish to avoid.

How to execute a good separation

A good separation, although to the person you are trying to separate from, there can never truly be such a thing, involves taking the time to clearly communicate your intentions. Although this sounds far easier than it actually is, the following 5 tips give some advice on how to achieve this.

#1 Give a clear message. You must find a place and a time where you can explain to your partner the decision you have arrived at in a clear, strong and punctuated way. There can be no dithering and maybes, there can be no excessive sympathy, there can be no retractions. Any of these and your partner will grab onto them and keep the embers of hope burning. It sounds cruel, but you have to ensure that all hope of the relationship continuing is extinguished as soon as possible, otherwise you will just end up prolonging their pain.

#2 Give a clear reason. The first word that will spring from his or her lips when you announce the separation will be, “Why?” and you owe them a full and clear explanation. If it’s the fact that you’ve fallen out of love with them, tell them. If you’ve fallen in love with someone else, tell them. If you’ve felt that the relationship is somewhat restrictive and you need to strike out on your own, tell them. They may think that they hate you for a while, especially if you use the second reason, but eventually they will come to respect you for your honesty and the courtesy you have extended to them. [Read: 10 steps to tell your partner you’re unhappy]

#3 Move out. If you share a living space, then get out IMMEDIATELY. Any dithering or meandering on this can create multiple issues. Firstly, it may give your partner hope of continuing the relationship. Secondly, it gives them little to no opportunity to start living their new life without you, if you are around them all the time. Thirdly, you might just succumb to temptation and end up ruining all your good work.

Before you separate, phone a friend or family member and ask them if you can bunk down with them until you get your own place, at which time you need to move all your stuff out as swiftly as possible, and leave your ex to get on with their life again.

#4 End ties. Similar to three, this is a warning to not only separate yourself from the relationship, but physically separate yourself from your now-ex-partner. That’s not to say that you can no longer have them as a friend and shouldn’t offer to help them if they need your help. However, being on more than just civil and slightly friendly terms may only serve to prolong your partner’s pain. So, go find a new bar to drink in, do some different activities, see mutual friends separately, and if there are any financial ties, then end them as soon as you deem practical. [Read: 7 ways to resist calling your ex]

#5 Avoid sympathy. This might sound cruel again, but it is of the “cruel to be kind” variety. You need to be clear and concise in your separation. If they ring you up at all hours of the night and day, crying down the phone, venting at you, demanding explanations, then you have to be firm and reiterate your earlier sentiments.

If the calls continue, then you should ask them politely to stop and explain that you don’t think this is doing them any good. The sound of your voice will only serve to upset them further, and keeping this kind of contact for an extended period may, no matter how brutal you attempt to be, keep a spark of hope alive. Let their friends provide the support and sympathy that they need. [Read: How to stop your ex from contacting you repeatedly]

What makes a bad separation?

In a nutshell, selfishness makes a bad separation. Taking the easiest, quickest and most stress free route to separation might help you through a difficult moment, but could be devastating for your ex-partner. The following 5 points describe behaviors that must be avoided at all costs.

#1 Don’t do a David Copperfield. By this I mean don’t do a disappearing trick. Separating is painful enough, but if someone disappears – doesn’t return calls, changes jobs, gets a new town to gallivant around – then there is no closure for the injured person. Without that closure, they will torture themselves with questions that they shouldn’t be asking, and they’ll be entirely unable to move on. Show a bit of courage, own up and tell them like an adult what you’ve decided and why.

#2 Don’t share it with the world. There is a dreadful habit amongst the cyber generation of letting their tech do all the talking. A separation should be a face to face thing – a simple, if inescapable, matter of respect. So whatever you do, no matter how you normally operate, please resist the urge to send a text message or email to do the deed. Especially avoid using Facebook or other social media to let all your friends and family know, so that your partner finds out about the separation from someone else. Nothing could be more painful.

#3 Don’t get someone else to do it. Unless violence is one of the issues that has led to the break up in the first place, you should never have someone else do your dirty work. It shows an innate lack of respect for your partner as well as a hugely apparent cowardly streak, both of which could lead others to lose respect for you in turn, once they find out – and your partner will have every reason make sure that other people find out about this!

#4 Don’t self-assassinate. This method of breaking up, of all the cowardly methods mentioned above, is probably the worst. This involves changing the way you act over a long period of time, so that eventually your partner gets fed up of your behavior and is forced to break up with you. People do this to shirk the onus of responsibility and place all the emphasis on the other person – but what a horribly weak and dishonorable way to act. The hallmark of an absolute scoundrel. Avoid.

#5 Don’t make up the reasons. Again, fess up, be honest. They might not like what they’re hearing but it’s better that you’re honest and up front, so that there are no misunderstandings later down the line. No one wants to hear all that “It’s not you, it’s me” rubbish. No one wants to hear a made up story about your non-existent dying relative. Don’t make up an excuse where you say you don’t really want to leave, but you might end up hurting your partner because of such-and-such. That’s bull. Just be honest and act like the adult you are.

[Read: How to break up with your girlfriend like a man]

[Read: How to break up with your boyfriend the right way]

For the sake of the good times you had with your partner, give them the courtesy of dishing out a good separation. You’ll already hurt them enough by leaving them. So lessening their suffering by the slightest bit would really help them to move on.

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Philip Hegarty
Currently reclining with a peaceful and contented smile upon his face, with perhaps just a hint of mystery and steely resolve, Philip Hegarty has an obviously i...
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