When breaking up is so hard to do

Even with the most sensible and emotionally mature of partners, breaking up a relationship is never an easy thing to do. You’re coming to terms with the fact that you don’t feel the same way about your partner, that he/she isn’t the right one, that all the time you’ve invested in the two of you hasn’t paid off.

Maybe there’s no sexual chemistry, maybe you’ll just don’t have all that much to say to each other. Maybe the practicalities of life were too insurmountable, and togetherness became unsustainable. Maybe you realised that you just weren’t ready for a “till death do us part” kind of commitment. No matter what the reason, you’re sure that now is the time to call it quits.

But what do you do when your partner isn’t that sensible, emotionally mature person we described at the start of this paragraph? What is he/she is possessive, clingy, needy — and just not willing to let you go? What do you do in such a situation? Are you feeling pressure from your partner to stay in the relationship? And what are the ways in which he/she might try to keep you from breaking it off? Read on to find out…

Quite simply, your partner will do his/her best to persuade you that your decision is wrong and that you do need to in fact, stay with them. They may try this by being charming, by trying to woo you in the same way they had at the start of the relationship generally make an attempt to sweep you off your feet, especially if the two of you had been taking each other for granted of late or had fallen into a mundane rut. At a slightly different part of the spectrum is behaviour like pleading, begging, whining etc if your partner feels that you will give in to the persistent pressure from them. But if you’re firm in your decision to call it off, communicate just that to your partner in clear terms, and tell them that while you will always care about their well-being, continuing to be together is just something you cannot do.

Turning over a new leaf temporarily
If your partner wants to hold on to you, one of the easiest things for them to do is “rectify” all the problem areas you may have identified in your relationship while telling them that it’s not working out anymore. But that is a problem if he/she has “turned over a new leaf” only temporarily until it is established that you will not be moving away from him/her. So if you had an issue with their not taking enough responsibility for your lives together, or if you felt he/she was too possessive or never gave you enough space (or gave you too much of it), if you felt he/she never communicated what they really felt, well, expect all that to change. But just until you settle back down into the relationship, and after a while, you’ll find him/her reverting to their old, problematic ways. Of course, there is a chance that your partner genuinely does wish to work on your relationship and make it better rather than let it go, in which case, good for you! But if you find that this has become a pattern you feel unhappy and want to move on, he/she promises to change, then few months later, you’re back to square one; rinse, lather, repeat it’s time to say goodbye for good.

This is among the most negative of tactics a partner can use against you in their quest to keep the relationship from breaking up. They may either threaten to harm themselves (“I’ll kill myself if you leave me”, “If I have to live without you, then I’d rather end my life”) or they may threaten to harm you (“I’ll kill you”, “I’ll make your life a living hell”). Note that the threats to you may not just be of the physical sort. They may involve badmouthing you to colleagues/mutual friends/relatives, disclosing secrets that could be potentially embarrassing or damaging to you and which you had confided in your partner. Unfortunately, in the digital era, there is also the very real threat of a disgruntled ex uploading “revenge porn” intimate pictures/videos of you on the Internet. You can’t take these threats less than seriously. Whether he/she is threatening to harm you or themselves, you need to reach out to your support system, family, even the authorities if need be for help in dealing with the situation. When you are already stressed, you may give in to the person’s violent ultimatums, but having your support system around you, trusted friends, family and co-workers, as well as legal recourse, will make it a little bit easier for you to pull through.

“You can’t leave me now! You know what a tough time it is for me at work!” This is the classic form of argument the partner who is trying to guilt trip you into staying on, will employ. He/she is counting on you still caring for them enough to not want to jeopardise whatever is important to them. And so they will play on your sympathies, have you keep saying, “now is not a good time, maybe when he/she isn’t so down or is doing a little bit better”. Now, compassion is one thing — it’s a very good quality to possess, and just because you’re about to break up with someone, doesn’t mean you suddenly have to turn into a monster and be unkind to them (well, unless the relationship was of the destructive, abusive sort, in which case, go ahead and unleash that monster). But being kind does not mean tamping down on all your desires and your need to be free of a shackling relationship. End it with dignity and grace, but if you feel your partner is trying to play on your sympathies and manipulate you into being with them, it’s time to be firm and move out (or on).

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