Relationships come with joys and struggles. Even when the relationship itself is healthy, couple dynamics may change as life’s circumstances vary. Practicing self-protection during a relationship can lead to better outcomes if or when a breakup is necessary. It's important to pay attention to warning signs early on in a relationship, such as infidelity, instability, and lying. A person may need to self-protect throughout the course of a relationship and during the closure of one, if it comes to that.
Breakups can be abrupt and can strain the emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of both parties involved. Understanding how to go about breaking off a relationship is critical for both partners’ security. Depending on whose needs and feelings are considered, breakups can be either self-oriented or other-oriented. Knowing that a relationship may not last forever is half the battle—this allows individuals to practice self-protection in an effort to mitigate the psychological and emotional damage it will likely cause.
If the end of a relationship is necessary, it’s best to do it openly and with respect. Closure is often hard to find, but it can be cultivated if done in an understanding and kind manner. Indirectly breaking up or ghosting is neither respectful nor constructive—it only provides a temporary reprieve and a distorted view of reality where emotions remain in limbo. It's essential to be honest and direct when speaking through a breakup, as it sets both parties up for the best possible outcome of the situation.
When communicating the end of the relationship, respect should be the top priority. Even though it can be hard to address the parting of ways, taking this route will help both parties move forward with more understanding of the entire situation. Empathy from both sides is also important during this trying time. Coming to terms with the end of a situation that was once full of hope and joy is no easy feat, and the utmost care should be taken to create a path forward that minimizes the hurt existing between former partners.
One effective way to protect oneself (and the other involved) during a breakup is to remember that the breakup has nothing to do with the character of either person. It is merely the recognition that two people have different needs and desires that led them to separate. Holding onto this sentiment is key, as it allows both parties to walk away from the experience with value and security.
Everyone deserves to be able to make peace with their partners during a breakup, no matter which party initiates it. No one should be made to feel ashamed or diminished for their decision—honor the privilege of choice and take ownership of the journey. As difficult as it may be to objectively make decisions about your own relationships, it’s important to be conscious of the impact that ending a relationship has on both parties involved. The self-protective breakup is an authentic act of caring and carries an immense power to heal.