16 Breaking up Tips and How Journaling Eases Heartbreak

How to say, and then recover after saying, "Goodbye."

Posted Apr 25, 2015

 ©2015 Rita Watson
Source: ©2015 Rita Watson

Ending a relationship is rarely easy. “Some women mourn the relationship even before saying the words, “It’s over.”  Why is this so?  When a relationship is ending, women know intuitively as Yale physicist Henry Morganeau pointed out to us in “Einstein's Space and Van Gogh's Sky: Physical Reality and Beyond.”  Before the ending, women often try to analyze the problem or fix it before coming to the realization that the best course is to leave.  Heartbreak can be mitigated if one  breaks up with dignity and then embarks on a recovery strategy.

Utilizing a positive coping strategy, when a relationship is finally over, may help protect against losing hours of sleep or shedding what may become endless hours of tears.  In his writings, Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., PhD, Department of Psychology, at Monmouth University, has reported on coping strategies to promote positive outcomes. As a gratitude proponent, I talked briefly about this in "35 Ways to Tell It's Over and How to Tell Your Partner."  What follows is an adaptation with research quotes from the Journal of Positive Psychology.

When you decide to say “Good-bye” try to have a face-to-face talk rather than hide behind a computer screen to send an email.   Here are 16 thoughts plus recovery strategies:

  1. Dignity - Forego the rant that goes something like: "Look what you’ve done. How can you expect me to stay with you?" Just start by addressing virtues and expressing gratitude for the time you shared together.
  2. Clarity - Point out that there is a problem that the two of you have been unable to resolve and it is best to move on.  Never mind the laundry list of "wrongs" and finger pointing.
  3. Openess -- Honestly admit that you are feeling as if the relationship has come to an end. Then turn the tables a bit and ask, "Are you content with the relationship or should take a relationship break?" This may trigger just enough concern to start a dialogue. But be careful of empty promises. Nonetheless, listen.
  4. Firmness - State clearly, "I've made my decision and as painful as this is, I believe it is best for both of us." 
  5. Suggest couples’ therapy even if you are certain his answer is going to be “No.”
  6. Be firm: If your partner asks if there is someone else—whether the answer is yes or no—consider replying, “This is not about another person, but about us. We are not working.”
  7. Come clean: If there is someone else, the longer you keep (or have kept) that fact from your partner, the longer it will take for you both to heal.
  8. Remember that infidelity can be either a deal breaker or a wake-up call.
  9. Know whether your partner is the type who will benefit from you dragging out the good-bye or from radical surgery—that is, “It’s over.”
  10. Understand the consequences of a prolonged separation—specifically, it opens the door for a guilt trip, or manipulation, or for providing the opportunity for your partner to enter into “victim” mode: "How can you do this to me?”
  11. Be mindful of the sincere hurt and  anger the other person is feeling.
  12. At all times, remain calm yourself even if your partner throws a tantrum.
  13. Reassure your partner that he or she is someone with whom you have shared a great deal of joy—but now it is time to move on.
  14. Consider recounting again at least two special moments that you shared together for which you will always be grateful .
  15. If the response is: "Then why can’t we try again?” remain firm.
  16. Embark on a positive recovery strategy

Heartbreak and Recovery

Even if ending the relationship is what you wished to do, prepare for an empty feeling inside. When you have had the talk, instead of recounting feelings of anger, wish your partner joy. 

Guard yourself against depression by surrounding yourself with supportive friends

If you do find yourself crying uncontrollably, however, and are unable to eat or sleep or leave your home, seek out a therapist who will help you move on to a more positive place.

Express gratitude always. By expressing gratitude you remind yourself of the good times you shared and how you have been freed to find a love who values you, a love whom you value. Consider a writing journal to help you put your thoughts in perspective. 

In talking about a research experiment using  “a writing-based intervention” involving “a hundred single participants who experienced break-ups in the past three months”  the following was determined:

They found that those who focused their writing on the positive aspects of their break-up (factors leading up to the break-up, the actual break-up, and the time right after the break-up) reported experiencing more positive emotions regarding their relationship's end and did not experience an increase in negative emotions. The increased positive emotions included feelings such as: comfort, confidence, empowerment, energy, happiness, optimism, relief, satisfaction, thankfulness, and wisdom. (Lewarndowski 2009)

If you decide on this gratitude writing recovery strategy, it might be helpful to just put aside a few minutes a day for two weeks.  And during that time, avoid expressing negative emotions about your former partner to anyone.


LeShan, L. and Margenau, H. (1982). Einstein's Space and Van Gogh's Sky: Physical Reality and Beyond. Macmillan.

Lewandowski, G. (2009). Promoting positive emotions following relationship dissolution through writing. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(1), 21-31.

Copyright 2015 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved