We’re really, really hoping you’re not breaking up with the love of your life. We’re rooting for your love story to be continuous and cozy and everything you want. However, love is messy, complex and sometimes, the relationship needs to end, even if love is still there.
Maybe you’re breaking up when you’re still in love. Maybe you’re trying to get over a true love breakup and it’s just not happening and you’re sitting around listening to too many songs about breaking up with the love of your life. (And there are too many of them!) Or you’re in a shaky relationship, wondering whether to break up and how to deal with a breakup with the love of your life.
Breakups of any kind are tough. Breaking up with the love of your life is possibly the most painful thing you’ll ever have to do. It’s probably been a long-term relationship and maybe you’ve even created a life and a routine together. It’s going to be really, really hard to let go of all of this – people so often compare it to losing a limb.
We’re here to help. We’re not promising you’re going to snap back to your regular emotional state because healing takes time. But we’ve rounded up some things to think about when breaking up with the love of your life.
Breaking Up With The Love Of Your Life: Consider These 11 Things
There are no absolute rules when breaking up with the love of your life. But, there are things you need to consider. In other words, if you’re considerate before, during and after a breakup, it’ll make the whole painful process a little easier on you and your partner. So, before you think about how to get over a long-term relationship breakup, here are 11 things to consider when breaking up with the love of your life.
1. Be clear about why you want to break up
Breaking up with someone you love isn’t always reasonable. But there will be reasons why you’re unhappy with the relationship to the extent that you’d rather end it than stay and try and work things out. Or maybe you have tried to work things out and nothing has gotten better.
Sometimes, your reasons are just, “I’m not happy” or “I want more and this relationship isn’t enough”. Yes, these are valid reasons, but if you’re not absolutely clear about the reasons behind breaking up with the love of your life, maybe you could take a relationship break instead of a breakup. You want to avoid a situation where you’re thinking, “I broke up with the love of my life and regret it.”
“My partner and I had been together for 5 years and honestly, it seemed a comfortable, happy relationship,” says Jessica. “But I wasn’t happy. It might sound like I have a fear of relationships, but I just wanted to get my own place, travel alone and do things without having to consider someone else’s routine and feelings. As selfish as that sounds, I loved and still love my partner, but I had to end the relationship.”
Clear reasoning can sound self-absorbed, even vague and silly to outsiders and even your partner. But if you have clarity and you know this is what you want, it’ll make for clear and kind communication with your partner.
2. Stand your ground
Once you’ve got your reasoning in place and you’re clear in your own mind that breaking up with the love of your life is really what you want, there will be a rush of doubt and questions, both from your own brain, your friends, and maybe even your partner if they’re not in the same place as you are.
Related Reading: Post-breakup Depression: Meaning, Signs And Tips To Cope
Stand your ground. Yes, it’s perfectly normal to have questions and doubts in your own mind – you’re breaking up with someone you love, you’re ending a relationship that has probably defined you and your heart space for years. It’s like letting a part of you go, and it’s difficult to hold your ground and say, “No, this is what I want.”
Listen, you’re allowed to change your mind and remain in your relationship. But, if you’re clear in your mind, despite the doubt, and you know that you want and need this relationship to end, don’t listen to people who express shock, disbelief and try to talk you out of it. There will always be the argument of “but you’ve been together so long”. A long relationship doesn’t come without problems, so it’s perfectly valid to want to end it. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging relationship problems.
3. Understand that you’ll need to have a tough conversation
Oh boy, is this going to be a tough conversation, especially if you’re breaking up with someone you love and they have no idea what’s coming. You’re going to want to put it off as long as possible, because, well, imagine the look on a loved one’s face when you tell them you no longer want to be with them. Who wants to be the horrible person who initiates a breakup! No one.
Don’t sit on it too long. Yes, we’re talking about consideration here and sometimes you need to think long and hard about dissolving a long-term relationship., about the loving someone vs being in love. But, it’s important to take that first step and have the initial conversation about where you are and how you feel. Else, you’ll be stewing in the cauldron of your own repressed feelings and resenting your partner.
There’s nothing easy or intrinsically ‘nice’ about a breakup, especially when breaking up with the love of your life. It’s going to be difficult, maybe it’ll get ugly, and it’s not going to leave you with any warm, fuzzy feelings. But, pluck up your courage and have the conversation. Don’t let things get to the point where you’re throwing things at each other because you can’t express yourselves any other way. No point in this becoming a toxic relationship.
4. Sit with your feelings
Wait a minute, didn’t we just tell you to overcome your feelings and do the tough thing? Yes, we did, but hear us out. How to deal with a breakup with the love of your life involves a lot of feelings. And we mean, a lot! We’ve already talked about doubt and questioning yourself and those are going to be swirling in your brain for sure.
But there’s also hurt. Anger. Confusion. Deep, deep sorrow. Why would you let go of love, even if it doesn’t always feel like love anymore? How will you cope with the partner-shaped hole that breaking up with the love of your life will leave you with? Are you even remotely equipped to handle this level of pain and feeling?
Related Reading: 10 Things To Do When You Are Thinking About Divorce
Let the feelings come. Let them flow over you and eventually (and this will take time), they will diminish. The pain may leave scars that never completely heal. But it’ll get better, we promise. For that, you need to let the feelings come rather than instinctively blocking them out because who needs that level of feeling. Trying so hard not to feel when making such a major decision will not help you. Sit with your feelings, take them as they come, and they will evolve into strength in time.
5. Be prepared for your partner’s reaction
You can never really be prepared for how a loved one will react to such an extreme situation. You’re basically suggesting that you end a deep connection, a partnership that extends to every corner of your shared and individual lives and uproot everything the two of you have built together. How does anyone react to that? Is there even a correct way to handle it?
We’ve got news for you. There isn’t. Your partner could go, “Oh, thank goodness, I’ve also been unhappy with the relationship and didn’t know how to tell you.” Or they could collapse in shock and tears and declare they had no idea you felt that way. Maybe they’ll be determined to change your mind and say you can work things out. Worst case scenario: They’ll accuse you of wrecking a perfectly good relationship and suspect you of having an affair.
Be prepared for all of this, or one of these, or none of them. There’s no telling how breaking up with the love of your life will actually affect the love of your life. People we think we know and love turn into virtual strangers when they feel threatened or hurt or insecure. So steel yourself for anything, anything at all.
6. Talk about the things you’ll still be sharing
“We’d been married for 12 years and had two children. We had a house where both our names were on the lease, we shared caregiving duties for her ailing mother,” says Aidan. When Aidan and his wife Sarah decided their marriage wasn’t working, they knew they couldn’t simply pull their lives apart and leave it at that.
Related Reading: 12 Tips For Married Couples To Split Finances
“We shared more than the love of a couple – we were parents, we were caregivers and we had financial matters we shared as well. There were other people we had to consider when going through our divorce. It made it harder to make the decision. But in some ways, it also made it easier because we both wanted the process to be as easy and pain-free as possible, for the sake of our kids and my mom,” Sarah says.
Breaking up with the love of your life is hard enough when it’s just the two of you. But, how to deal with a breakup with the love of your life when it involves parents, children, finances and other matters that are built into your shared life?
Talk about it. Set aside your problems and acrimony for a bit and understand that you’re adults with relationship responsibilities. That’s not to say you don’t pay attention to your feelings. But take a break from being the angry, sad, confused partner for a few minutes and have an honest conversation about how you’ll handle your kids and your money. Split your time and caregiving duties fairly. Understand your own and your partner’s needs, be kind, be practical and get it done.
7. Understand what you’re about to lose
When breaking up with the love of your life, while you might continue to be plagued by doubts and questions, it is important to have at least a somewhat clear picture of the things you’ll be giving up. Maybe someday, down the line, you will connect on a platonic level, but for now, you’re severing a deep connection and everything that comes with it.
If you’re breaking up while still in love, this is going to be especially hard. You’re essentially breaking off what is perhaps the most important relationship in your life, with someone who knows you inside out. Even if it’s becoming a one-sided relationship, they know your quirks, what annoys you, what makes you happy. And you know them so well, too. How they take their coffee, their love for collared shirts, their disdain for trance music and so on.
There’ll be no more sharing inside jokes, no certainty that you have someone to pick up groceries if you forgot, someone to rant to when you’ve had a bad day, the comfort of knowing you’ll be sharing a warm bed with a body you know as well as your own. As depressing as it sounds, breaking up with the love of your life will leave a major hole in your life, and you need to know this.
8. Be as kind as you can
This is not going to be easy, but did we mention already that breaking up with the love of your life is never easy anyway? And it’s certainly not going to be easy if you’re at each other’s throats the entire time.
Maybe you really no longer have anything in common and have grown apart, maybe there is infidelity involved, which, of course, would lead to anger and resentment. But in all this, try and find a little kindness, or at least basic good manners as you navigate what is already a painful endeavor.
“My partner of 8 years and I were on the verge of a breakup,” says Meisha. “After being together so long, we had gotten to a point where we barely spoke anymore and when we did, it was only to argue over the smallest things. There were all the signs of a dead-end relationship.”
Surprisingly, once they mutually decided on going their separate ways, it became a little easier to be at least civil to each other. “We knew we weren’t compatible as a couple anymore, but because we agreed on that, we also didn’t get nasty with each other while breaking up.
“We were no longer in love, in fact, maybe we didn’t even like each other much. It was incredibly sad, but also liberating to know we were finally moving on. I knew I wasn’t going to think, “I broke up with the love of my life and regret it”, but I would have regretted it if we’d been horrible to each other those last few days,” Meisha adds.
9. Consider getting professional help
When you’re trying to get over a true love breakup, it’s always prudent to consider talking to a therapist. Maybe you want to get couple’s counseling as a last-ditch attempt to salvage your relationship. Or maybe you want to get counseling just to sort your own mind out before, during and after breaking up with the love of your life. It’s certainly better than sitting around listening to songs about breaking up with the love of your life.
Related Reading: Divorce Counseling: Benefits Of Pre And Post-Divorce Therapy
Talking to a professional helps you unburden yourself and also reminds you that you’re not alone in this. There’s no shame in admitting you’re sad and reaching out for a little help. A breakup is essentially the death of a relationship and life as you know it and you need to give yourself time and space to mourn.
In such cases, talking to a professional is a great way to give yourself a mental and emotional cleanse and make it just a little easier to keep up with your day-to-day life without sinking into your grief completely. If you think you need some help (and remember, it’s okay if you do), Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors is always here with a willing ear.
10. Remember it’s all right to still love them
You’re trying to get over a true love breakup and it’s just not happening because you’re still filled with love and loving feelings toward them. Is this a case of “I broke up with the love of my life and regret it”? Did you just make a horrible mistake?
Not necessarily, we say. Not every breakup means you’re filled with venom toward your ex and want to slash their tires and burn their favorite clothes. There could be plenty of love between you, but perhaps your life goals are different. Sometimes, love isn’t enough to keep two people together – and this is one of the harshest truths we must face.
Life often gets in the way of love, but that doesn’t mean your love disappears. It’s just that if a relationship is becoming a burden rather than propelling both of you forward on a shared life path, it’s not a healthy relationship no matter how strong your love for each other is. And in healthy vs unhealthy relationships, it’s smart to opt for the former.
It’s all right to keep loving your former partner even after a breakup. Just make sure it’s not preventing you from moving forward in your own life. Send them good vibes and loving thoughts, then let it go. Hopefully, with time, you’ll be able to let them go completely.
11. Keep your support system close
We cannot stress this enough. Breakups are hard and strong as you might be, you do not need to face things alone. Your friends, your family and loved ones should know what’s going on so you have people to talk to and shoulders to cry on whenever needed. You’re breaking up with the love of your life, possibly your biggest support system, and you’re going to need some love and TLC from all quarters.
Related Reading: 7 Stages Of Grief After A Breakup: Tips To Move On
Talk to your friends, have sleepovers when you find the bed too large and lonely. Go shopping with them, get a cute new haircut. Text them whenever you’re feeling like calling or texting your ex so they can talk you out of it. Trust us, you’ll need this.
These are all great reminders that you’re still loved even though you broke up with the love of your life. It’ll keep you from crying over all those songs about breaking up with the love of your life, or at least you’ll have people to cry with. Every time you think, “I broke up with the love of my life and regret it”, you’ll have loving reminders of why you broke up and why you need to stick with it.
Breaking up with the love of your life is a difficult decision and more often than not, a messy process, and you’ll need ways to deal with the heartbreak involved. Even if you’ve mutually decided that it’s not working, there will be a fair amount of pain to get through. Be kind to yourself and each other, have the tough conversations and remember, you’re still loved, no matter what.