A while back I experienced the best breakup ever.
Nixon and I had been dating for over a month and I could feel a few things happening. We’d jumped into things pretty quickly. While we started off wanting to just have fun and not get too serious, I could feel my “Venusian” tendencies starting to take over and want more. I had a clear realization: I authentically knew that while I wanted more, I just didn’t want more from him.
Rather than get upset that we weren’t a perfect match, I explored how to approach this mindfully. Here’s what I found out.
The art of having an amazing breakup comes down to embodying compassion, kindness and appreciation.
We can think of this approach like karma—the more we can exit a relationship with grace and positivity, the more inclined we will be to have better experiences in the future. On the flip side, if we exit with anger, resentment or guilt, we take that energy into our future experiences. Yikes.
So how can we embrace the Art of the Amazing Breakup?
1. Get really clear on what’s not working.
Instead of letting your emotions get the best of you, have a clear, calm conversation with at least one really good friend. Say what you’re not happy with and discuss those issues. Your friend’s job is to listen and ask lots of whys, which help you dig deeper and get to the root of why things aren’t working for you. If you prefer to do this alone, spend some time writing this down, asking yourself why along the way to get super clear on what’s not working and what you truly want. You know you’re ready when you can clearly express why in just a few sentences.
2. Embrace the situation with love.
This is the most important step. If you can’t approach this process with love, compassion and kindness then you won’t have complete closure. Without closure you miss the opportunity to move forward into something greater. Know this is for the best. Keep in mind that if it’s not right for you, it’s not right for the other person by default. Seriously: embody love whenever you think about this person. (Yes, even if they’ve betrayed you.)
3. Create space to breakup in person.
This may seem unnecessary—especially given all the technology we have access to, but it’s imperative for two people to show up authentically together. And besides, using technology to breakup with anyone you’ve been truly intimate with is a total cop-out. I don’t care if this means you have to wait a week. Tough in-person conversations teach us how to stand in our own power with kindness and confidence. And even more importantly, we learn how to take personal responsibility.
This is when you say I think it’s time we stop seeing each other (or whatever feels right for you). Yes, it feels like ripping off a bandaid. It’s totally normal for this moment to feel really clumsy, ultra-heavy, out of context or otherwise weird. And it will likely be followed by an awkward silence. Just roll with it. You can’t control how the other person will react, but you can control what you say and this will greatly influence his or her reaction. Be kind. Be honest. Approach the conversation that follows with authenticity. Avoid cliches. Don’t be afraid to show that you still care. Listen. Hold hands. Hug. Cry. Be loving. Yet firm.
Take some time shortly after to reflect on the breakup. How did you feel in the moment? How did the person’s reaction feel and what impact did it have on you? Do this in whatever way feels natural for you: meditate, write, walk, bike — whatever gives your mind space to reflect on the experience. When you’re ready, write down all the things you’re grateful for in that person and the relationship. These are the things you want to carry with you into your future.
6. Have a follow up conversation.
After both of you have had time to reflect, you may very well want to have a follow-up talk. This can be in person or on the phone—it’s still best to have a “live” conversation to gain insights in the moment rather than a one-sided email or text message. This is a great opportunity for one or both of you to say something that may have been left out during the actual breakup, thereby creating closure. Help each other gain insights. Be vulnerable. Be honest. Be thankful!
Do something fun with people you love. Get out there and flirt, maybe get a new cell number or two. Don’t rush into anything. Know that by experiencing an amazing breakup you have cleared space for something even more incredible to appear.