Break-ups are no picnic, but how you cope depends entirely on the terms with which you and your partner divide.
In some cases, it’s as easy as having a conversation and saying “so long”, resulting in a breakup devoid of drama.
However, most break-ups are rarely uncomplicated and though they may be ubiquitous experiences, they are no less unique than the relationships themselves, meaning there are myriad ways with which you can free yourself from a partner.
So, what are they? And how can you equip yourself with the emotional tools to overcome each?
We spoke to dating experts to find out.
The one where someone did something awful
There are some instances where a break-up is necessary and obvious e.g. cheating, emotional abuse and/or physical abuse. In these circumstances, it’s best to opt for a clear-cut conclusion: get the hell out of there and don’t look back.
However, it’s not always that easy, as dating coach Jo Barnett tells The Independent:
“The first thing is to know that you can not be responsible for someone’s behaviour and that this is the way they behave, it has nothing to do with you.
“Don’t blame yourself, but do distance yourself, say what you need to say and then completely break away, delete all contacts and make it clear that they are not to stay in touch.”
Psychologist Madeleine Mason Roantree, director of relationship psychology services at Vida Consultancy Ltd, adds that it’s key in these instances to have a clean break.
“Once you have broken up, it’s probably a good idea to spend some time to lick your wounds as it were, before embarking on a new relationship,” she tells The Independent.
“Don’t jump on the next dating app, instead make an additional effort to be kind to yourself and do nice things.”
In other words, this is when you can feel vindicated to find yourself in a foreign country, eat pasta, do yoga and learn a new language i.e. the full Eat. Pray. Love. package: Namaste.
The one that comes out of nowhere
You’ve organised a mini-break for you and your beloved, you’ve rented the vintage car, you’ve booked the ‘most romantic’ restaurant on TripAdvisor, but just as you’re ordering your matching PJ set, they tell you “it’s over”. They say “It’s not you, it’s me”. Earth-shattering.
You’re crushed, but mostly because you have no idea what to do with his and hers eye masks that arrived last week.
“While this is upsetting news, at least you know that you needn’t spend any more time worrying whether to invest in the relationship or not,” Mason says.
“It can be blowing news, and it’s probably a good idea to take some time out to reflect on what just happened, but not too long.”
She advises finding ways of getting yourself back out there, either through dating apps or going out with friends and meeting new people IRL.
The one that is harmonious and mutual
This is unicorn of break-ups, so rare that you’re not even sure it exists outside of this very article.
According to mythic dating folklore, both parties leave the relationship after a mature conversation featuring phrases like “I completely understand what you’re saying” and “I couldn’t agree more”.
Who knows, one of you-you might even quote Tennyson to the other (“tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”), to which your now ex-partner will smile and nod enthusiastically.
“Mutually amicable break-ups are the most desirable if things really aren’t meant to be,” explains Mason.
Nevertheless, there are some factors worth considering, she notes, for example: Do you both feel comfortable moving straight into friends mode? And if so, how often do you think you should see each other?
If you feel like you can have an open conversation about these things, it will make the break-up all the more seamless, lucky you.
The one where you get ghosted
One day you’re talking about the names of your children, the next, you’re getting the dreaded one tick on WhatsApp, an indication that you have been blocked by the person you made pancakes for just that morning.
No matter how hard you try, regardless of the number of platforms you send them a wave emoji on, you can’t contact them.
Start the exorcism, because you’ve just been ghosted.
“Experiencing a break-up via ghosting is a very emotionally painful experience,” Mason explains.
“Being left without closure or warning leaves you in turmoil. Humans don’t deal well with uncertainty, and not knowing what happened and why, inflicts pain.”
In these instances, Mason suggests calling in for support from your closest friends or family members and, depending on how distraught you feel, seeking professional help.
“Ultimately, it’s about processing the sudden loss and making sense of how to move on.”
The one that naturally fizzles (did it even happen?)
You know it isn’t going anywhere, so do they. You didn’t do anything wrong, it just wasn’t working. While somewhat dull and uninteresting, this is one of the easiest break-ups to deal with, Barnett explains.
The important thing is not to kid yourself that you can make it work when clearly both of you are ready for the relationship to reach its conclusion.
“Don’t wait for the other person to call it, communicate that it’s not going anywhere and that its best that you both move on,” she advises.
The one that isn’t really a break-up
Did you learn nothing from Friends?
One of the most toxic types of break-ups is the ambiguous break-up i.e. the one that begins as “a break” and ends with one person sleeping with “the hot girl from the Xerox place”.
You’ve gotten back together more times than you can count and all of your friends are sick and tired of the melodrama.
As per above, if both of you know it’s not working, it’s time to call it quits for good.