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The art of breaking up

By in Opinions

There is no denying that we live in a “couple society” where romance and partnership are highly publicized and idealized. Relationships are a main topic of conversation among friends and, during such conversations, I have noticed a contradictory trend I will title the “Valentine’s Paradox.”

Valentine’s Day, a romantic holiday during which couples celebrate love and romance, appears to be correlated with breakups. I suspect that this is because people are forced to reflect on their relationships before Valentine’s Day. If, during this reflection, they realize that they don’t want to be with someone, they then break up with them rather than celebrate the relationship.

What about the relationship could change so drastically in a few weeks’ time that one partner would suddenly find the other partner unfit? Probably not a lot. So to be courteous to your partner, I propose a “Two Weeks Notice” rule: The dumper must leave the dumpee two weeks prior to a major couple holiday (such as Valentine’s day), or family holidays where the partner is to attend (such as a wedding or family Christmas), so the dumpee has time to find someone else. It is the polite thing to do.

For those of you whose relationship isn’t all cinnamon hearts and Hershey’s Kisses this Valentine’s Day, I have compiled some notes on breakup etiquette for the dumper and dumpee.

Tips on how to break up

You're doing it wrong.

Plan your breakup

It may not go according to plan but it will give you time to reflect on whether you actually want to break up with your partner. Do not spontaneously dump. If you regret the breakup and then go back to the dumpee, there will be a divide between you and your partner. This means that the subsequent breakup may be more difficult.

Don’t lie

Relationships are an opportunity to learn about yourself and what you want in a partner. Neither of you can do that if you lie about what you were unsatisfied with in your partner or in the relationship. Be open and honest, but remember to be sensitive.

Don’t “go on a break”

Going on a break is cowardly, greedy and it usually ends with someone feeling cheated on. Make it a clean break so both of you can move on.

Don’t leave for someone else

If you are in a serious conventional relationship (two monogamous partners) it is not enough to want to be with your partner; you cannot want to be with anyone else. Break up with your partner before it gets to that point. And do not begin the relationship if you have feelings for someone else. If you meet someone you think you would rather be with, do not compare that person to your current partner. Consider this new person as an individual before you decide to end your current relationship. Just because the grass seems greener on the other side, does not mean it is.

Tips on how to survive a break up

 Focus your positive energy

When you love someone, you want the best for them. And while you are the best, you may not be the best for that particular person. So send your dumper positive energy.

Don’t stalk

Let go of your former lover. Don’t even stalk them on Facebook. There is nothing good to be had of it. If your ex-partner is better off it will make you feel horrible, and if they are worse off and that makes you feel better, that’s horrible of you.

Accept your sadness 

We don’t have to constantly be happy or feel awesome 100 per cent of the time. Be sad. Accept that it is okay to be sad. Embrace your sadness. Indulge in a “pathetic night in” and cry over a movie. It doesn’t have to be a cheesy romance to be sad either. Try a documentary, a war movie or something Disney.

Do not hook up with someone immediately after a breakup. It won’t make you feel better or distract you. It will make you feel worse by reminding you of your ex-partner.

Relationships have the potential to bring out the best in people, but they can also cause a lot of stress and pain. Valentine’s Day is only once a year so don’t have unrealistic expectations for it. Relationships don’t just boil down to one day, so you should be nurturing your relationship all year. Regardless of whether you are with a partner (or with several people) or flying solo, be safe and have fun this Valentine’s Day.


Photos: B Rosen & Ed Yourdon/Flickr

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