How To Prepare For A Breakup (Mentally, Emotionally, and Practically)

How To Prepare For A Breakup (Mentally, Emotionally, and Practically)

Whether you’ve been mulling over it for weeks or it’s a decision that’s recently crystallized, the lead-up to a breakup is a critical time in which you need to prepare for how it’ll go down and what comes next. It’s about more than just bracing yourself for the conversation; it’s also about getting your life aligned for life after this love. Here are some tips that you may find helpful.

1. Think things through before taking the leap.

Breaking up isn’t a decision to make on the fly. It’s big, and it deserves some serious thought. Before you decide to end things, really take the time to think about why you want to break up and what it’ll mean for your life. Weigh the pros and cons. Are the issues fixable? Have you communicated your feelings? Sometimes, the urge to break up can be a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that could be solved. Make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons and not just out of frustration or anger. Breaking up with someone you still love is especially tough, but it may be necessary.

2. If you live together, find somewhere else to stay.

If you’re sharing a place, figuring out your living situation is key. Can you stay with a friend or family member temporarily? Or maybe you need to look for a new place altogether. It’s not just about having a roof over your head; it’s about giving yourself a space to process and heal after the breakup. Plus, living together post-breakup can be super awkward and can make moving on harder for both of you.

3. Get your financial ducks in a row.

Breakups often come with financial implications, especially if you’ve been sharing expenses. Start by assessing your financial situation. What’s yours, what’s theirs, and what’s shared? It might be time to open your own bank account, if you don’t have one already, or to figure out how you’ll handle joint debts or bills. Getting this sorted before the breakup can save you a lot of headaches and arguments down the line.

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5. Talk to a therapist.

Ending a relationship can be emotionally taxing, which is why it’s a good idea to talk to a therapist as you prepare for the breakup. It’s helpful not just to navigate the breakup itself, but also to unpack your feelings and learn from the experience. A therapist can provide you with tools to cope and help you understand your needs and patterns in relationships. Plus, it’s a safe space to vent and process your emotions without judgment.

6. Accept that your feelings will be complex and potentially overwhelming.

Bracing yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions is crucial when trying to prepare for a breakup. Splits are messy, and it’s normal to feel a whole range of things – sadness, relief, fear, you name it. You might even swing between these emotions unpredictably. Understanding that this is a normal part of the process can help you cope better. Don’t be hard on yourself for feeling all over the place. It’s part of the healing process, and with time, things will start to level out.

7. Seek support from your social circle.

Rally your friends and family around you. You’re going to need them for support, advice, or just a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes just hanging out with people who care about you can be a huge comfort. They can provide a different perspective, or just distract you when you need a break from thinking about the breakup. Remember, it’s okay to lean on others during tough times – that’s what they’re there for.

8. Pick your timing carefully.

Timing can make a big difference in how a breakup goes down. Try to choose a moment when both of you are calm and have the time to talk it through. Avoid stressful times like major deadlines or personal crises. The last thing you want is to make an already hard conversation even more challenging. Also, consider your partner’s feelings – blindsiding them can make things worse.

9. Do things that make you feel calm and content.

It’s important to look after your mental well-being. Do things that bring you peace or joy, whether it’s a hobby, exercise, watching your favorite show, or just taking a long bath. These small acts of self-care can help you stay grounded and give you moments of respite amid the emotional turmoil. It’s about finding little ways to nurture yourself and maintain some normalcy during a difficult time.

10. Have plans to look forward to.

Planning some fun or meaningful things for after the breakup can give you something positive to focus on as you prepare for the breakup. It could be a trip you’ve always wanted to take, a project you’ve been meaning to start, or just spending more time with friends and family. These plans can act as a reminder that there’s life after the breakup and lots of good stuff still to come. It’s about creating light at the end of the tunnel and giving yourself reasons to be excited about the future.

11. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

This is a tough time, so cut yourself some slack. If you need a day off to just lounge around and eat ice cream, that’s okay. If you’re feeling down or struggling to move on as quickly as you’d like, don’t beat yourself up about it. Healing takes time, and everyone’s process is different. Be kind to yourself and remember that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes. You’re doing your best, and that’s enough.

12. Be clear about what you want to say.

When it comes to the breakup conversation, having a clear idea of what you want to say can make a big difference. Think about the key points you want to cover and how you want to express them. This isn’t about scripting the whole conversation, but more about being prepared so you can communicate your feelings and reasons honestly and clearly. Being clear helps prevent misunderstandings and can make the conversation more straightforward for both of you.

13. Understand they may not take the news well.

You have to prepare yourself for a potentially difficult reaction to the breakup. Ending a relationship is hard, and their response might range from shock and sadness to anger or denial. Remember, their reaction is about them processing the news, not a reflection on you. Stay calm and compassionate, but firm in your decision. It’s important to handle the conversation with sensitivity, but also to stand your ground if you’re sure this is what you want.

Sinead Cafferty is a writer who has authored four collections of poetry: "Dust Settling" (2012); "The Space Between" (2014); "Under, Under, Over" (2016); and "What You Can't Have" (2020). She's currently working on her first novel, a dystopian romance set in the 22nd Century, that's due out in 2024.

Sinead has an MFA in creative writing from NYU and has had residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and the National Center for Writing.