On-and-off relationships are the worst, especially because you don’t know how to handle yourself during the “off” period. Moving on might feel a bit like cheating, even if you and your partner both know you have to take some time away from your relationship. It’s difficult to figure out how to break up with someone, particularly if you think, at some point, you’ll want to get back together. It all comes down to breaking up respectfully.
I was in an on-and-off relationship for five years, and breaking up each time got incredibly complicated. Because let’s be real: Breaking up with the intention of possibly getting back together is actually more like taking a break. Each time we’d split up, we knew we were going to get back together, so everyone we would date on our off periods just felt like a rebound. Plus, we never really knew when to take a breakup seriously, since they usually ended with us getting back together anyway. We started using the word “breakup” pretty flagrantly.
But sometimes, you intentionally want to take some time apart to address the issues in your relationship, reevaluate things, and see if you’re actually right for one another in the long run. So here’s how to break up with someone you might want to get back together with eventually… as if love wasn’t complicated enough already.
1. Separate With Love
While breakups can hold a lot of anger and resentment, if you have plans to get back together in the future, it’s important to move forward with respect for one another. Otherwise, you ruin your chances of getting back together in the future.
Separate with love, and honor what you had and shared in your relationship. Remember the good times you had together, and try your best to part as friends. If you stay focused on your own personal growth during your breakup, instead of ruminating on the things your ex did that upset you, you might be able to get your relationship back on track.
2. Set A Clear Boundary
Are you going to talk? If so, how often? Are you going to continue to follow one another on social media? Is it OK to date other people? Will you let one another know if you do?
One of the hardest things about taking a break is figuring out the parameters of the break so that neither you nor your (ex) partner gets hurt. This means establishing clear and explicit boundaries — and sticking to them.
If you find that, during your break, you need to deviate from what you’ve decided, arrange a phone call or in-person meeting to recollect your thoughts. A break is for figuring out whether or not you’re better off together or single. So if you find the single life is more suited for you, there’s no harm in telling your partner that and making the final decision to split up for good.
3. Figure Out What You Need In Your Time Apart
Breaks are the ultimate time for introspection and personal growth. Instead of blaming your partner for any issues in your relationship, turn your thoughts inward and figure out where you can work on yourself. Use this precious time alone to develop yourself as a person. You’ll find that you will either outgrow your ex in the meantime or become an even better, more mature partner for your relationship.
4. Reevaluate With Time
You don’t need to set a strict time limit for a break, but after you and your partner take some space from each other, figure out whether or not getting back together is right for you. If your break is destined to become a breakup, then end your relationship and move on for good. But if you’ve learned things during your time apart and you’re ready to address your relationship with fresh eyes and skills, then get back together and try again.
Breaking up is hard to do, especially if you’re not sure if you want it to be forever. So if your breakup looks more like a break, make sure you handle it delicately. If you don’t know what the future holds, you need to handle your present with love and care.