I’m a Dating Coach, and These Are the 7 Most Common Breakup Mistakes To Avoid

Photo: Getty Images/Delmaine Donson
There's no way around it: Breakups suck. If you've invested time and emotional energy into the relationship that is ending—and it's likely that you have—it's tough not to have a certain level of care about the situation. And that's true even if you're the person initiating the breakup. Because how difficult ending a relationship can be, there are a number of common breakup mistakes that can make the event more painful than necessary.

As a dating coach and founder of Coaching Hearts Consulting, I've seen firsthand the unfortunate ways that unions dissolve. There are plenty of reasons for relationships to end and no single right way to go about a breakup (this script can help, though), but there are a lot of common breakup mistakes that generally well-intentioned folks make.

There are plenty of reasons for relationships to end and no single right way to go about a breakup, but there are a lot of common breakup mistakes that generally well-intentioned folks make.

Breakups are hard and the reality is someone will most likely be hurt. However, if you are the person doing the breaking up, know that you have the power to avoid bringing about undue hurt. In general, your best path forward for a respectful breakup is to focus on being open and direct; uphold the level of care that you once felt for them.

7 common breakup mistakes people make when ending a relationship

1. Ghosting the person

Ghosting the person you have been in a relationship with—or disappearing and ceasing communication without any explanation—is cruel. While ghosting anyone in your life isn't ideal, taking this tack for someone you once called your partner is especially is especially ill-advised.

Unless you feel interactions with the person risk your mental, emotional, or physical health, it's a best practice to provide some explanation or reasoning for ending your courtship.

2. Hiding behind a screen

A romantic relationship is intimate (on some level, even if not physically), and the breakup should reflect that. With that in mind, do not try to end a relationship through text, email, or Post-it note. If you prefer to write out your feelings or need the time to gather your thoughts and take notes, then that is perfectly fine.

The key here, though, is to not leave the note and run. Instead, write down your thoughts, and take them with you to read in person. Ask the other person to give you the space you need to read your words without interruption so that you can still get your point across calmly.

3. Public showing

With social media being ubiquitous, it’s now normalized to have our lives on display—for better or for worse. Even so, it's not appropriate or kind to break up with someone in a way that causes public humiliation. While social media is one example of such a public forum, others include a party, or other public spaces where the person may feel humiliated or rejected by others. The end of a relationship is between the two people who were involved together and does not need to be displayed for external opinions or involvement.

4. Using words as weapons

In the heat of the moment, when you find yourself irritated, feeling defensive, or otherwise fed up, remembering to be thoughtful about your word choice can be tough. Doing so requires self-control and awareness. But, words matter and are powerful—especially if you know exactly what to say to get under the person’s skin (and if it's someone with whom you were formerly close, that very well could be).

Words can't be unspoken. Even after an apology, the sting can still leave a mark, long after you've parted ways.

5. Cheating

This approach is disrespectful and comes with serious potential repercussions for the other person, including emotional damage and trust issues. So, before becoming intimate—physically, emotionally, or otherwise—with another person, have the breakup conversation to properly end your previous relationship. Even if you're already mentally checked out of your relationship, it's crucial that you communicate that the relationship has ended.

6. Forcing friends to take a side

Having a relationship, especially over a long period of time, can mean that you have cultivated mutual friends together. Once the relationship dissolves, it doesn’t mean that your friendships need to end as well. Try to restrain yourself from telling your friends they need to pick a side. They have the right to stay friends with both parties if they choose. If you force them to pick one person over the other, you might just lose them as a friend as well.

7. Lying and excuses

It's important that you're honest with yourself about why you're ending the relationship, and it's best if you're transparent with that information when you speak with your significant other. If you pretend like everything is okay and prolong the inevitable, you are not doing anyone any favors. In fact, this is a waste of time and energy for everyone involved, stifling the ability to heal, move on, and meet a partner who might be a better fit.

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