Breakups are painful, no matter what brings them about and whether or not you want to break up. Initiating a breakup when the other person does not want to break up can cause sadness, guilt, and worry. Being broken up with can lead to feelings of hurt and rejection. Even if the breakup is mutual, it’s still natural to struggle with difficult feelings, like anger or depression, at least for a while.
As painful as the decision can be, there are healthy ways to deal with a breakup and get over a breakup. With time, support from family and friends, reflection, and self-compassion, healing can happen.
What Can Lead to a Breakup
Breakups happen for many reasons. Some reasons are external-such as one of you moving away, going to separate colleges, or going through another lifestyle change that affects how you prioritize relationships. Other reasons are more about internal changes-maybe you feel like you’ve grown apart, or you’re growing in different directions. In some cases, relationships are unhealthy for one or both people. A relationship may come to an end naturally or may need to end to preserve one or both people’s mental health and well-being.
Sometimes breakups happen because you and your partner (or partners) don’t share the same opinions, beliefs, or goals. That’s why it’s important to communicate your deal-breakers-the things that you won’t compromise on-early in the relationship. For example, if you want a monogamous relationship, then having a partner who wants an open or polyamorous relationship may be a deal-breaker for you.
It’s also important to understand that as we grow and evolve as people, things change: priorities, the kind of person we’re attracted to, what we want out of a relationship, and even our understanding of our own sexuality. This means that what we are willing to compromise on ple, if a couple agrees that they do not want children and then one partner decides they do, compatibility of their unique life goals and desires may need to be revisited. If something changes for you while you’re in a relationship, it is important to be honest with yourself and, eventually, with your partner.
It’s okay if your deal-breakers are different from what your friends or family thinks is a priority. Ultimately, you get to decide what works for you in a relationship. Whatever you decide, it’s important to be clear about how you feel with a partner or potential partner.
Dealing with Infidelity
Infidelity, or cheating, can be defined differently in different relationships. Boundaries in one monogamous relationship may look different than boundaries in another, and the same is true for polyamorous or open relationships where there are more than two people involved. It’s important to communicate what you’re comfortable with and what your boundaries are. If you feel that important or well understood boundaries have been violated in a relationship, it’s okay to break up, even if your partner or others in your life don’t see infidelity the same way you do.
One important aspect of consent in a relationship is around sexual safety. If someone in a sexual relationship has sex with someone else without their partner’s knowledge, they are putting their partner at risk for a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or other complications. This is why it is a good idea to get tested for STIs if you find out your partner had sex with someone else.
Sometimes, there may not be a specific reason to end the relationship-and that’s okay. We all change over time and sometimes something that felt comfortable at the beginning simply stops feeling that way over time. Simply wanting to leave a relationship is enough of a reason to break up. The most important part of being in a relationship is wanting to be in that relationship. If you no longer feel that way, it’s healthier to break up.