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How to End Your First Relationship

Updated on February 18, 2013

by Kathy Batesel

When your first love comes to an end, it can be confusing. Are you trying to keep things together, or are they falling apart?
When your first love comes to an end, it can be confusing. Are you trying to keep things together, or are they falling apart? | Source

(And Survive the Breakup!)

Breaking up with a first love is one of the hardest things that can happen in the first few decades of our entire lives! This relationship used to be so great. Remember the way you thought about him constantly? The way you couldn't wait to see her? How many text messages did you send back and forth every day? (Did they get you in trouble with your parents?)

But lately things have been... different.

You may not be exactly sure of the reasons, but you know that you're not feeling it the way you used to. You've been wanting to be single again, at least for a little while, maybe, you think, but then again, what if nobody ever loves you like this again? You don't want to break someone's heart, and you don't want to be alone, but if you break up, you might lose the best chance at love you'll ever get and really hurt someone you care about.

It's a tough choice! Keep reading to find out if breaking up is the best thing to do, and how to do it if you decide that it is what you want.

On Your Mind...

What was the most enjoyable part of being in love for the first time?

See results

First Love

The first time we find love, it's an amazing experience. It teaches us a lot about ourselves, about other people, and about what we want in our lives.

  • We learn that we are lovable and desirable, and that makes us like ourselves.
  • We learn to cope with problems better because our relationship time conflicts with other things, like work schedules, friendships, or family.
  • We learn about planning for the future in a way that feels more real, more reachable, and more immediate than the way we used to think of things.
  • We explore things like how many children we want to have, whether we value a career or marriage more, what it will mean to be responsible to someone who isn't a parent, a teacher, or a boss.

A lot of these experiences were like a dream. Everything seemed simple and easy, especially since our boyfriend or girlfriend would be right at our side, supporting our choices at every step of the way.

Then reality started crashing in. Now, you aren't sure if you should stay or not. You may even be wondering if you'll find love again. (I guarantee you will.)

On Your Mind

What's the main reason you're thinking of breaking up?

See results

Should I Break Up?

Do you remember the first time you stopped seeing your mom or your dad as a hero and realized for the first time that they were flawed human beings? The same thing happens in relationships. We eventually discover that our guy or girl isn't as perfect as we thought they were.

Just how imperfect are they? They might be a great person, but that doesn't mean they're a good match for you. It's normally better to break up than keep trying if you discover that:

  • You have different ideas about where your relationship is going.
  • You're not compatible enough.
  • Your partner can be abusive at times.
  • There are more bad times than good ones.
  • You cannot be honest with your partner.
  • Your partner is frequently dishonest.
  • Either of you has cheated, is cheating, or plans to cheat.
  • Has a problem with addictions like drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Your partner has a lifelong mental illness diagnosis, like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or any personality disorder.

Your love might be broken, but YOU don't have to be!
Your love might be broken, but YOU don't have to be! | Source

Bad Reasons for Breaking Up

Then again, our reasons for wanting to break things off aren't always good ones. In fact, you might be worried right now that your reasons aren't good enough. If just one of the things on the list above are true about your relationship, then you've got plenty of reason to part ways.

On the other hand, if you want to break up because of one of the reasons below, you might find yourself regretting your decision to separate.

  • You feel bored sometimes.
  • You're still close, but it's not as exciting as it used to be.
  • Even though your partner hasn't complained, you just don't feel ready to commit to one person.
  • You're happy with your relationship, but one of you is heading for college soon.
  • You're not sure if it's "true" love or not.
  • You met someone hot, and want to see where it could go. If it doesn't work out, you can probably get back with your current partner.

One other reason can go on either list: When a friend or family member doesn't like your boyfriend or girlfriend.

When a friend or family member dislikes our loved one, it might be because they see that we're not a good match for the long haul. But manipulative people might say things like that if they're worried we're not going to be there enough for them. There might be a lot of pressure for us to break up a relationship that feels great! If you're going through something like this, consider if it's just one person that has a problem with your relationship, or if several people do. If you're getting pressured by several people, then they're seeing something you aren't. If it's just one person, the problem might be that person instead of your relationship.

"Like some wines, our love could neither mature, nor travel."

Graham Greene, The Comedians

Break up in person
Break up by text, e-mail, or phone
Break up at an important event
Break up in a public place
Break up in a safe, private place
Break up in front of close friends
Staying friends
Being intimate (kissing, having sex)
Deciding "no contact" for 30 or 60 days
Being understanding
Being firm
Using criticism or blame
Answering basic questions like "Why?"
Arguing, defending your decision
Venting on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Things that Sabotage Moving On

  • Trying to be friends right away.
  • Being intimate.
  • Continuing to talk to each other.
  • Fearing the future.

How to Break Up

Once you know for certain that you want to break up, it's still not an easy thing to do. You have to prepare yourself mentally. You will want to rehearse what you'll say, and how you'll say it. Finally, you'll want to deliver the message in a way that preserves your partner's dignity, makes it clear that you really are breaking up, and gives your boyfriend or girlfriend an opportunity to find closure and healing in the weeks after.

Let's look at what to do and what not to do:

1. Get some distance first. I like Eddie Corbano's article "How to Break Up with Somebody in 7 Steps" because it starts with this idea. Go ahead and be a little distant and unresponsive for a week or two, long enough for your partner to recognize that something has changed, and not for the better. They may feel confused, but they'll be more prepared when you hit them with the news.

2. Know your true reasons for breaking up. You might or might not tell your soon-to-be-ex what the real reasons are, but if you're certain of them, it will help you stay strong.

3. Weigh your approach and how it will affect your listener, but avoid getting too concerned about his or her reaction. If you honestly think they might hurt themselves or hurt you, create a plan and approach that will minimize risk. This is never a good reason for staying in a bad relationship! I'll talk more about ways to ensure safety in the next section.

4. Be prepared to answer basic questions. Your partner might be upset, shocked, or even outraged and will want and need to know your reasons. You don't have to tell them details that will make matters worse. Stick to basics, and avoid feeling like you have to defend your decision. "This relationship isn't what I want anymore" is a valid reason. "Because you've been a jerk to me lately" invites arguments and problems. Don't get into unnecessary detail. In the weeks to come, you'll both remember past fights when you tried showing what was making you unhappy, and he or she will figure out the reasons without your help.

5. Initiate "no contact." It doesn't have to be forever, but establish a 30-day or 60-day period up front. Explain that you will not accept (or send) text messages, phone calls, or visits. Make it a point to steer clear of places where you might run into each other. If you work together or attend classes at the same school, you may decide to vary your routine for a while to minimize seeing one another.

Throughout your discussion, be understanding but stay firm. "I understand that you're upset, and I wish this wasn't painful, but it's necessary for me." "I know I'm bringing a lot of pain into your life right now. That's not my intention, but I've made my decision."

Safety Tips

If you're worried that your soon-to-be-ex will become violent or suicidal, consider whether you have good reason to believe it. Just because someone has said, "I can't live without you" a hundred times a day doesn't mean they will hurt you or themselves. In fact, a high percentage of manipulative or mentally ill people will make threats even if they have no intention of ever taking such actions. The more risk factors there are, though, the more important it is to plan your breakup carefully.

The link above will take you to a thorough suicide risk evaluation guide, but you may not need to use it. This table can also help you figure out just how much risk there might be. If you're still uncertain, visit that link!

Does He or She...

Suicide Risk Factor
Violence to Others Risk Factor
Talk about hurting themselves?
Talk about hurting others?
Intentionally hurt themselves?
Intentionally hurt someone else?
Intentionally hurt animals?
Hurt themselves more than once?
Hurt other people more than once?
Have access to weapons?
Have access to dangerous pills/poison?
Have a plan to hurt themselves?
Have a plan to hurt others?
Have a history of fighting others?
Act abusively toward you at times?
If two or more risk factors are present for either suicide or violence, consider asking one of his or her loved ones to be alert to signs of danger in the coming weeks. You may also find safety if you choose a neutral public place like a park or rest
The relationship you're leaving isn't picture perfect, but by breaking up from a bad relationship, you'll be available for the kind of love you want.
The relationship you're leaving isn't picture perfect, but by breaking up from a bad relationship, you'll be available for the kind of love you want. | Source

Getting Over Your Breakup

It doesn't matter who gets dumped or who does the dumping - both of you are going to hurt. It's a little bit like ripping off a bandage - a BIG pain that gets better in a little while, instead of prolonging a less noticeable pain for a long, long, time.

There's no way to avoid the pain, so do the next best thing: Get through it.

As horrible as it feels, a breakup doesn't mean either of you is a failure. It doesn't mean you won't find love again. It doesn't mean that your life sucks. It does mean that you've lost something that once was important to you, and that you'll need a bit of time to learn where things went wrong so you can avoid repeating the same problems in your next relationship. It means you might need to grieve for a little while.

Tears are okay.

Ice cream is good.

Sadness is fine.

Journals work wonders for getting over things, and they aren't public the way status updates on Facebook are. (You'll never have to say "I'm sorry" or be embarrassed by things you write in a private diary.)

Drinking yourself into oblivion might sound tempting, but it's not a good idea. You need to get through the sadness, grief, and doubts so you can heal. If you don't, you'll carry emotional baggage into your next relationship that'll come back to haunt you.

After a few days or maybe even a few weeks, you will start feeling optimistic again. You'll remember that you're a strong person who others like being around. Go ahead and indulge your wounds for a little while, but then get back on your feet and start living again. If you can't bring yourself out of your funk after a month has passed, consider talking to someone you trust or making an appointment with a counselor to find ways to break through the barriers keeping you from living like the happy person you can be.


Submit a Comment
  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from USA

    Good luck, Jess. Sending happy thoughts your way.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    I just read this. Hopeing it helps

  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from USA

    That sounds like a good idea. I'll come up with something soon. Thanks for the angle!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    either that or mentioning undesirable consequences!

  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from USA

    Hi, UAD. I'm so glad you've stopped by, and thanks for the nice compliment!

    I'm not sure what you mean by failing "due to the other's response." You can't be forced to stay in a relationship, so do you mean those times when you feel responsible for someone else's state of mind?

  • profile image


    6 years ago


    I am impressed by your TAM postings.

    You seem clear minded and compassionate without being afraid to take a view ahead of the curve when appropriate and you write very well.

    I liked this article but it doesn't mention when you try to break up but fail due to the others response. Does this mean you were wrong to try to? Is this normal? I know you are not a problem page. Maybe an angle for another article?

  • jellygator profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from USA

    Thank you, eHealer!

  • eHealer profile image


    6 years ago from Las Vegas

    Jellygator, very well done, once again. I really like the polls, makes it interactive. And you're right, it doesn't matter who broke up with who, it is very human to morn a relationship "that might have been." Thanks and voted up!


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