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Rita Watson MPH

20 Thoughts on How to Say, “It’s Over”

Ending a relationship is painful, but facing the truth will set you free

Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
Source: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

It happens all too often. You meet someone and you think you have each been touched by the same star. Then what started as love turns into an annoyance, lack of patience, sometimes anger and sometimes hate. Or you might just have a feeling of being controlled or find yourself experiencing moments of profound emptiness.

Breaking up is hard to do. And yet, it goes on and on. Some 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce.

When marriages end it takes a toll on men, women, and children. Several years ago the Canadian Health Population Study reported on 20,000 people and found that depression rates doubled for those whose marriages or committed relationships came to an end. And men were six times more likely to be depressed than women.

Even with young people, ending a relationship can create an overwhelming sadness and extreme stress. The University of Georgia Health Center has a page devoted to Ending a Relationship.

A survey of British lawyers last year determined that “growing apart” was the number one reason for divorce even ahead of money issues and infidelity. There is no good way to say, “It’s over.” But here are some thoughts on how to proceed.

  1. Before saying anything at all, write out the pros and cons of the relationship.
  2. Write out the five qualities about the other person that helped you to fall in love.
  3. Write out at least two things that brought the two of you joy.
  4. In a completely rational way ask yourself, “If he or she were breaking up with me, what are the words that I would want to hear?" Start from a positive position—“We have shared happy times together.”
  5. State the reality—“Something is not working between us.”
  6. Express your need—“I need to move on.”
  7. Be willing to listen, calmly, to the other person’s reaction.
  8. Decide in advance not to argue.
  9. Acknowledge how difficult is it to say the words, “It is over.”
  10. Be firm. “I am not telling you this so that you will change, or do things differently. I am telling you this because I feel that this is the end of the road for us.”
  11. Decide how to answer the other person when he or she says, “Couldn’t we give it another try? Can we go to counseling together? "
  12. If you can agree to counseling, go into the sessions with an open mind.
  13. Be honest. State what you feel, but do so kindly thinking about the person’s positive qualities.
  14. If your love asks if there is someone else, decide if you should say, “This is not about another person, but about us. We are not working.” Or if there is another person, be careful how you admit the truth.
  15. Remind yourself that if there is someone else, the longer you keep that fact from your love, the longer it will take for both of you to heal. “When you know the truth, the truth will set you free.”
  16. Be aware enough of your partner to know if he or she is the type who will benefit from you dragging out the good-bye or performing radical surgery—that is, “It’s over.”
  17. Understand the consequences of a prolonged “Good-by.” It opens the door for one party doing a guilt trip on the other. It opens the door to manipulation. It opens the door to “victim” mode; that is, “How can you do this to me?”
  18. Understand the hurt and anger the other person is going through.
  19. At all times, remain calm. And avoid the trap: "Let's have sex just one more time."
  20. Reassure the other person that he or she is someone with whom you have shared a great deal of joy, but now it is time to move on.

Kiss each other goodbye and then cry. Even if ending a relationship is what you wish to do, there will be an empty feeling inside. Express gratitude for the good times, wish you partner joy and in time, you will feel the warmth of sunshine.

    Copyright 2012 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved


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    About the Author

    Rita Watson, MPH, is an associate fellow at Yale's Ezra Stiles College, a former columnist for The Providence Journal, and the author of Italian Kisses: Rose-Colored Words and Love from the Old Country.