Watch relationship expert and author Rachel Sussman share tips on the right way – and the wrong way – to break up with someone:
“There is a right way to break up with someone and a wrong way to break up with someone,” Rachel told genConnect. “So a few tips on the right way to break up with someone: I think it’s important to be honest. And you can be honest and be kind at the same time. So tell the person why you’re breaking up with them, sometimes use examples, speak in ‘I’ statements, and you know you don’t have to go into the entire history of the relationship and every single thing the person did wrong, but you know, be honest and be kind. That’s number one.”
So let’s say you took Rachel’s advice and you’ve broken up with someone — now what? That is exactly the kind of question psychotherapist Rachel Sussman answers in her upcoming book, The Breakup Bible. Drawing on hundreds of counseling sessions she’s conducted with women at all stages of recovery, Sussman developed a proven 3-phase process for healing from a breakup. Filled with advice and techniques for dealing with the post-relationship emotional journey, Rachel’s book shows that it’s not only possible to survive a breakup, but that you can emerge even stronger and empowered.
An excerpt from The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce on how to distance yourself and recover after a relationship ends:
Rules of Disengagement
Believe me, I understand how strong the impulse to engage is, but you will be so proud of yourself when you resist it. Every single woman I spoke with reported how satisfied she felt when finally taking control of this behavior. I know you can do this and I promise that you will feel relieved and powerful. Following these suggestions will help you break free.
When you have an urge to reach out, inquire, or spy:
- Buy yourself some time. Make a bargain not to engage for at least thirty minutes. As previously described, obsessions are reduced or eliminated if you simply make an agreement with yourself to delay your urge.
- Create an affirmation. I’m going to ask you to use this when- ever you feel like reaching out, whenever the obsession/addiction is at its fiercest. Suggestions: “I am a powerful lioness—I can control myself ’; “Stop the madness”; “This is the time to heal and be well.” Repeat this chant over and over.
- Remind and refamiliarize yourself about your negative engagement dance. Chances are, no matter how you convince yourself otherwise, it will start up again the moment you reach out. And if you feel bad now, you’re going to feel much worse once this gets under way.
- Check in with your emotions. What are you feeling right now? Are you feeling angry, lonely, anxious, sad? Process your feelings and turn your focus away from your ex and onto yourself. Use your bag of tricks to soothe yourself.
- Move away from your emotions and into your intellect (try to switch from heart to head). Honestly ask yourself, “What exactly am I trying to accomplish by calling him now? How has it felt in the past when this hasn’t gone well? How will I feel if he doesn’t respond, or if he responds in a form that is dangerous to my well-being?”
Instinctively you know that it is going to be distressing and it will set you back. It always does. Remember that.
- Refocus your brain. Change activities. Go for a walk, organize a room in your home, do physical exercise, cook, clean, write in your journal, read something from one of your inspirational/spiritual books, play some music, or watch a DVD.
- Call someone from your support system. Is there someone you can ask to serve as your “sponsor”? Someone who will agree that you can contact him or her whenever you feel like contacting your ex? Sign on a few sponsors and call them instead of calling him.
- If you are in the midst of an engagement dance, pull away. It is never too late to change directions. End the conversation. Walk away. Turn off your phone, electronic device, or computer.
- When you feel like sending a letter, write one to yourself. You need to express yourself (which is part of the reason you’re engaging in the first place). Write it all down and take as much time as you need. Do not send this letter. It is for your own edification. It will help you explore and express your feelings and make your own discoveries. Make sure you are validating yourself!
- Try a thirty-day cleanse (see p. 109). Force yourself to stop engaging for thirty days—it will work wonders.
Excerpted from The Breakup Bible: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Healing from a Breakup or Divorce Copyright @ 2011 by Rachel A. Sussman, LCSW. Reprinted by Permission of Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
For more from Rachel on genConnect: How to Meet the Right Partner
- For more daily expert updates, follow genConnect on Twitter and Facebook.
- To stay on top of Rachel Sussman’s latest contributions: Sign Up for genConnect.