How we deal with breakups
I don’t mean to imply that there is such a thing as a happy breakup. Even when breakups are desired or anticipated, usually they come with a sense of failure, feelings of abandonment, anger, jealousy, resentment, fear and sadness. Even if the breakup brings about relief, usually there is a wave of sorrow that comes during and afterwards. It is rare that the end of a relationship will be accompanied by indifference or instant cheer.
What we’ve learned
Everywhere we look, breakups look nasty, contentious, antagonistic, chaotic, and undignified. The media and people around us reinforce the notion that to love is to possess and retain at all costs. That negative attachment leads to the bitter battles that people get entrenched in when it comes to putting the relationship to rest. But who in the right mind would want to hold on to a dysfunctional relationship? Moreover, who would want to spew more dysfunction and hope that by throwing more toxicity in the mix the situation will have a positive outcome?
Unstable minds, unstable breakups
Yes, finishing a relationship is usually not a happy moment. Nonetheless, people with emotional and/or mental instability tend to make breakups worse by making the situation about vengeance and hatred. Even worse, these unhealthy minds usually become obsessed with making someone (anyone) pay for their suffering, thus sucking in innocent people in their vortex of venom.
“Love me or I’ll beat you with a stick”
Breakups can bring about the worst bullies. As the insecurities of the one who does not want to break up increases due to the loss of control, they tend to go in a guerrilla warfare, with dirty tactics such as ambush, sabotage and relentless attacks. The one deploying the guerrilla warfare does not discriminate; they can even get their loved ones involved (such as their children) in order to carry out their agenda.
Problems with attachment
I have seen that individuals who have had problems with attachment during their development tend to have the worst breakups. For instance, a person who had a negative relationship or was under the influence of a negative role model at home (parents or direct caregivers), developed unhealthy attachment during the relationship and takes breakups the hardest. These people may want to make their soon-to-be-ex-spouse pay for the wrong deeds of the parental figures they had while growing up. Therefore, the individual with attachment issues, especially if compounded with personality disorders or mental or emotional health problems, unleashes his or her savage and illogical wrath onto surrogates - the ones he or she projects as responsible for the problems that most likely were his or her own doing.
How to break up with dignity
Although painful, breakups can happen in a civilized manner. Here are some ideas on how to break up in a more positive light:
- Take responsibility: It took two to make and break the relationship. Blaming others may be easier but not having accountability does not lead to growth. Furthermore, realize that nobody “takes your partner away” and that belief only takes away the responsibility that should lie in the partners.
- Be realistic: Is the relationship worth saving? Have you both exhausted all options and worked hard at saving the relationship before its demise? Is that really the quality of relationship you want to hold on to? And, do you really want to be with someone who is not into you?
- Spare the innocent: Children, new partners, friends, family members, et al. should all be left out of the fight. The relationship was between two and the course towards its dissolution should remain a matter of two.
- Your actions are a reflection of you: Blinded by rage, people go on a rampage that, at the end, only reveals who the unstable person is in the relationship.
- Accept and move on: There’s plenty of fish in the sea. Life does not end because of a breakup and you can decide to move on and allow yourself to be happy. The sadness is temporary but the learning can yield to a better self and better future relationships.