Breaking up is never easy. But in our recent Status survey* we discovered that break ups definitely aren’t always good and too often they are bad and sometimes even downright ugly.
Of those we interviewed about break ups,
- 17% had been physically hurt
- 38% were sent hurtful private messages
- 27% were harassed with frequent contact online
- 23% had hurtful comments posted or shared about them online
- 14% had nude photos or videos shared publicly by their ex
We asked several relationship experts for their advice on how we can break up better.
Here’s their guide to #BetterBreakUps:
- Look for the tell-tale signs that it’s over
Some conflict in a relationship is normal but if you’re arguing more often than not, something may need to change. Take time to think about why you are struggling and whether it is something you can work through.
Cheating doesn’t always mean it has to be the end. Relate Counsellor, Dee Holmes said, “If your partner has cheated this is often a sign that there are issues in your relationship which need addressing. You may decide you want to end the relationship entirely or if you’re both willing to work at your relationship and have the right support, it’s possible to rebuild trust.”
2. Choose your moment to bring up the subject
Let them know in advance that you want to talk to avoid it being a shock. Be honest, direct and kind. Choose a time to talk when you’re both sober, calm and away from distractions. Relationship expert for statusonline.org, Sarah Abell suggests, “Think about how you would want to be told if someone broke up with you.”
3. Let them down gently
Try to avoid blaming or sounding too harsh or critical. Instead of saying, “I don’t like you now I’ve got to know you” – you could say something like, “I’m not feeling enough of a connection between us.” Couples therapist, Kate Thomson, from Tavistock Relationships said “Your partner is unlikely to be in the same place emotionally as you. It may take them some time to catch up. If you can understand and talk about your more vulnerable emotions, it may well make the break-up less stormy.”
4. Talk face to face
In our survey 90% of people said they’d like a relationship to end in person and yet 41% admitted to having been dumped by text. Unless you are miles away or ending an abusive relationship – it is much better and kinder to end a relationship face to face and privately. Sarah Abell said, “The golden rule is treat people like you would want to be treated. Be kind and courageous and don’t hide behind a screen.”
5. Protect yourself from bitterness and online recriminations
Think carefully before sharing intimate photos or details with another person and don’t do it under pressure. Your ex could publish any sexual content online. Actions like this are a criminal offence and if it happens, contact the police. Avoid getting caught up in any bitter online conversations with your ex. Resist the temptation for revenge and retaliation. Kate Thomson said, “If you have been left, the old saying, ‘the best revenge is living well’ may have quite some truth to it – so have fun, rather than sinking to cruel behaviour that you may later feel ashamed of once your life has moved on.”
6. Tread carefully if you want to stay friends
Give each other space and time to heal. This will make it more likely you can one day be friends if that is what you both want. Be honest about new relationships and remember to be kind to and about each other. George Barker from Sexpression:UK adds “It is possible to be friends with an ex, but only after both parties are completely over the relationship.”
*Statusonline.org commissioned a survey of 1000 16-25 year olds from across the UK.