Information Centre

Ending a relationship

Couples Romantic Relationships

Breaking up with someone is never the easy.  Depending on the relationship, you might’ve been through a lot together, and making a decision to move on is sad even if it’s what you both want.

If one of you wants to break up and the other is happy with things as they are, it gets even more complicated.   Being the one to end things might be one of the hardest things you ever do, especially if there’s no major reason other than not being happy anymore.  But if you don’t move on, an unhappy relationship can drag on for years.  That’s not fair on either of you.

However, if your relationship is emotionally or physically abusive, you should end it no matter how much you care about the other person.  Ending an abusive relationship is always the right thing to do.

Why break up?

There are loads of reasons why couples break up.  Staying committed to one person over a long period of time is hard, especially if you realise you want different things.

Some common reasons why relationships don’t work out:

You’ve grown apart – when you get into a relationship when you’re young, you can have a really strong bond with each other.  Maybe it’s the whole first love thing, or maybe because you’ve gone through important years of your lives together.  But how you feel at 22-years-old can be pretty different to how you felt at 17-years-old.  You and the person you’re with mightn’t have the same stuff holding you together anymore.

You want different things – you can feel loads of love for your boyfriend or girlfriend, but if you don’t have stuff in common it’s pretty hard to keep things going.  They say opposites attract and sometimes it’s true, but it helps to like and share some of the same things.

You’re going different places – when you’re in your late teens and early twenties, you’ve got a whole load of decisions to make, from where to go to college, to whether to travel or move away from home.  Sometimes you both just start wanting different things from life, and making a break can help both of you get where you want to be.

Think about it first

Before you break up with someone, remember all relationships have their ups and downs.  Spending so much time with one person is bound to lead to disagreements and getting irritated now and then.  It’s also pretty normal for the excitement to fade a bit.  The “butterflies” you felt in your stomach whenever you saw your new girlfriend or boyfriend might be gone, but this can turn into a sense of closeness.

Some tips for salvaging your relationship:

Be romantic – the excitement of a new relationship often fades, but that doesn’t mean you should let things get boring.  Keep the romance alive by making time for each other, going on dates and not taking each other for granted.

Give each other space – it can be nice to share everything with the person you’re going out with, from having the same friends, to taking the same college course.  But if the relationship’s going to last, it’s important each of you have separate lives too. That way neither of you will feel crowded by the other person, and you have other people to talk to if you need to vent.

Talk – if you’re angry at them, don’t let it build up. Tell them how you feel and then maybe you can both try and work out a solution to whatever’s going on. Encourage them to come to you with the things that upset them too.

Speak to someone else – talking to someone you trust can help you figure out whether you’re just going through a bad patch with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or whether you need to move on.

How to end it

Sometimes even when you make efforts to salvage your relationship, things still don’t work out. Try to handle the break-up sensitively, like you’d want them to if the shoe was on the other foot.

Do it in person – it might seem easier to break the news over the phone, or even send a text or an email, but you owe the other person more than that.  Breaking up with someone face to face takes courage, but shows respect.

Be firm – if you’ve made your decision, stick to it, no matter what the other person’s reaction is.  There might be tears, anger or pleading, but it’s never a good idea to stay with someone out of pity or guilt.  The other person wouldn’t want that either, when they get a chance to think about it.

Be honest – if you’re sure you want to break up, don’t suggest taking a break from each other instead.  It might seem like softening the blow, but it’ll only give the other person false hope that your relationship has a future.

Give them space – it’s nice to imagine staying friends with someone you’ve dumped, but their feelings of anger or hurt might make it too hard for a while. Let them be the one to make contact again when their feelings are less intense.