I didn’t know what I was doing. He was my first love and I didn’t have experience in ending relationships. I naively thought, “You fall in love and the love lasts.” This was my simple equation and when it didn’t equal out, I was lost!
So, I did anything BUT maturely confront the situation. Instead, I acted like a child by avoiding and ignoring. And like a child, I was more caught up in myself than the other person.
If you care for someone, love someone and are in a committed relationship that you believe needs to end, your maturity is crucial. Being emotionally mature means that the ending of the relationship matters as much as the beginning. It shows that you currently still care and validates that you always have.
When relationships end poorly there’s a lingering wonder of “did she ever really care?” “How can he just shut down his feelings and leave me? I must have never mattered…”
The result is a deeper pain that lingers. Hurt is unavoidable when relationships end. But harming each other is.
Here are four specific steps on how to end a relationship like an adult.
Get Clear on Why
When a person is left in the dark, unclear as to why the relationship ended, it adds to the pain they are already feeling. This is usually due to a lack of clarity and ability to discuss the reasons openly. If you need to end an important relationship, first get thoughtful as to what your own reasons are. Write them out, find the words, because these words matter most to the person you are leaving. It soothes an emotionally upset mind when there’s some logic on board to help make sense of the situation. If you aren’t even aware of your own heartfelt reasons, you are falling fast into the immature trap. Talk it out with a friend, your family, or a therapist. But get clear!
Immature childish breakups happen abruptly. Mature adult breakups occur when the couple has discussed together specific ongoing issues. When they have tried to work through tough points. Hiding away your feelings to avoid conflict, even if you might be trying to protect your partner, is detrimental to your relationship and to the breakup. Talk about what you are struggling with. Talk about what is difficult for you and talk about what your needs are. This will help you both understand that while you may care for each other, that you may not be the best fit for one another. Let your partner in when you start to question whether you can remain committed to them.
Set Boundaries Together
Once you’ve discussed ending the relationship it crucial that you get on the same page about what to do next. If this is a committed relationship it’s likely you’ve shared important parts of your lives or it’s likely you even live together. It is essential to maturely discuss how to go forward. A boundary is basically what’s ok and what’s not ok. How do we separate our things? How do we handle shared friends? How do we share a pet? You must keep in mind that these boundaries need to be more ridged than flexible at first. You both need to grieve the relationship and recreate your lives as separate people. Continuing to overlap parts of your life will not be helpful…especially at first.
Friendship Needs to Wait
After setting boundaries, it’s important to be specific about the desire for friendship. Chances are that you both still care for each other. So you might think it makes sense to build a friendship. But this isn’t possible immediately after a breakup. Both individuals first need to grieve the intimate relationship in their own ways before considering the possibility of creating friendship. We need to completely end what once was, in order to create something new. When you strive for friendship too early, it impacts the letting go process and too often feelings get tangled into a mess. Pause and give space if you have hope for a future friendship.
A breakup will always bring heartbreak and hurt. By showing up maturely we can minimize the damage and the lasting impact of a relationship ending. And it will help you both heal much faster!
Does this resonate with you? Have you ever struggled with how to end a relationship? Tell me about by leaving a note below.