The ABC of Break Ups

C o n n e x I o n s    C o l u m n 

Based on experience in his therapy practice, Riaan Swiegelaar gives us a clear understanding of relationship dynamics in our romantic, family & professional connections. This is his regular relationship feature… 


the ABC of break-ups


There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but some are better than others. Whether you’re the one doing the dumping or the one getting dumped, breaking up is always hard to do. Although you might feel as if you’ll never get over this, you will.


The nature of how to handle a breakup has to do with how you experience a relationship. For starters not every relationship deserves a dramatic breakup. There are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes a relationship. There are people who think they have a relationship with two dates and people who don’t think they are in a relationship after 20 dates. If you have gone on one or two or three dates, not calling is breaking up, but after some kind of romantic and sexual encounters, it is a courtesy to at least call. Sometimes it’s easier not to call, and there are people who will just run away.


Don’t Break Up Over Email / SMS / IM / Facebook


I once had a client who broke up with her now-ex-husband via a text message! But text messages, emails, or other high-tech message delivery systems are not the best medium for ending a romantic relationship. Social networking sites, including MySpace and Facebook, allow users to post comments on one another’s pages, but they should never be used to end a romantic relationship. I have heard of breakup messages ranging from let-them-down-easy to downright mean. If it’s a casual encounter, a text message is OK. But to my mind, it’s better to call and speak or go out to dinner, or at least a cup of coffee. The news of a breakup should never be over text or email. This way of breaking up is the coward’s way out.


Stick to the Relationship Facts


Face-to-face or phone contact is a must. It’s important to give the person with whom you are ending the relationship the chance to ask questions and feel the sentiment underneath the words. Be as direct and honest as you can. Don’t engage in tit-for-tat arguments. Stick to the facts: “It’s not working, it’s no one’s fault, we need to make a change.”


Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?


Whether or not two people can remain friends after a breakup depends on the two people and their feelings about the end of the relationship. If someone is very much in love – and [then] broken up with- and forever trying to get back with that person, then having a platonic relationship does not work. If you are still in love with the person and want them back, the best thing to do is go cold turkey. While many a jilted lover claims to seek closure by going back just one more time after a breakup, such closure is a fantasy or a hope. If in your heart of hearts you really want to get back together, the best thing to do if the other person is not into it is to get out of it. Talking every day as “friends” is also a no-no. That just keeps the wounds and hope open and working. Don’t keep calling to ‘check in,’ hear how his or her day was, or if the dog ate his dinner. Cut the cord in all ways. Another no-no?  Breakup sex.


Healing After the Relationship Ends


Do learn from each relationship. Write down five things you appreciated about this relationship that you would like to have in the next one, and five things you would not like to create next time. Instead of stalking your ex or making up excuses to call or see him or her, keep yourself busy with new activities, old friends, and healthy distractions. Don’t get right into a new relationship. Don’t medicate your sadness with a new person. It isn’t fair to either of you. Vent when the need arises. Good friends will let you take out the photo album (again) and cry (again) and rant (again) – and they’ll still love you. Allow yourself time to grieve. If you don’t let yourself wallow in self-pity for a while and mourn the good times lost, your heart may harden to future relationships and love. Distract yourself with fun once you’re tired of mourning. Movies, group sports, classes or a favorite CD can help get your mind off your loss. Indulge yourself when you’re feeling lonely. Try a massage, a weekend trip away with a best friend, a great new outfit – whatever helps you feel good about yourself.


Remember the good aspects of the relationship (there must have been some), and then get excited about the new direction your life is suddenly taking. Change can be awesome!


In the next issue: How to know if he is truly interested in you…


Riaan Swiegelaar is a Relationship Coach, Transformational Therapist and a Intuitive Psychic. He runs a practice at the Far Hills Hotel. He can be contacted on 082 844 6588, or


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