How To Walk Away From Someone You Love

Are you struggling to break up with someone?

Sometimes, it can feel impossible to cut ties with a lover. We are so emotionally entangled that we just can’t call it quits.

That’s where this guide comes in. It will show you how to walk away from someone you love.

Learn how to make up your mind, where you can get emotional support, and why you should never take a former lover back.

Walking away from someone you love is hard. The first time I tried, I failed miserably.

I had been in a relationship with this person for almost eight years. For the longest time, I had assumed we would spend the rest of our lives together.

But recently, it had gotten unbearable. She was clearly not happy in the relationship anymore and was letting out her frustration on me. So, I decided to call it quits.

At first, it seemed fine. We even started to get along as friends.

But then I backslid. We had sex again. Not one time, but several times. She started seeing other people. I got jealous. Accusations. Tears. Late-night phone calls. The whole shebang.

It was a trainwreck of a breakup. When it was finally over (after about a year), I vowed to never let this happen again. I would learn how to walk away from someone you love.

And I did.

As with any new skill set, the first attempts weren’t perfect. It took me several relationships to get it “right.” But eventually, it got to the point where I was able to keep my emotions in check and have a clean break.

Don’t get me wrong, it is still painful. Cutting ties with somebody you love always will be. But it can be handled in a way that you are both able to move on, without loathing each other.

Here is how to do it.

1. Make Up Your Mind

You need to be crystal clear about your objective.

If you approach your partner about breaking up but only seem half-convicted, they are going to sense that. They will try to change your mind.

This is bad for both of you.

The two of you will go back and forth. Hopes will surge only to come crashing down again. In the end, you will come to resent each other. All because you couldn’t make up your mind.

So, before you say anything, sit down with yourself. Ask yourself, “What is my motivation for breaking up?”

Am I …

  1. … really done with the relationship?
  2. … threatening to break up, hoping that things will change?
  3. … trying to inject some drama into the relationship?

Only the first reason is valid. Stay away from the other two.

There are several ways to arrive at this conclusion. I like to journal about what is on my mind or talk to myself about it during long walks.

Some people do well with lists, comparing the pros and cons of continuing the relationship.

Talking to friends helps. Not so much because of the advice they are going to give you, but for verbalizing your thoughts. It will clarify the situation.

2. Overcome Your Social Programming

We have this notion that if a relationship didn’t last, it must have been a failure.

This is due to social programming. Anything that doesn’t conform to the traditional relationship escalator of dating, getting married, having kids, etc., must be bad — or so society tells us.

This is nonsense.

Some of the most fulfilling relationships I have ever had were over after a year. On the other hand, I know people who have been together for 40+ years and absolutely loathe each other.

Stop taking relationship advice from the mainstream. What do they know? Roughly 50 percent of all marriages get divorced. The paradigm of, “Till death do us part,” is obviously flawed.

Here is a metaphor to help you arrive at a new of thinking.

Imagine you are a gardener, but your seeds got mixed up. When you plant them, you have no idea what is going to happen. Some of them will flower fast and gloriously but then soon wither. Some of them will unfold less spectacularly but survive longer.

Who is to say which one is better? They just are.

You are not a loser for not making it to the societally approved finish line of marriage, kids, and mortgage. Simply cherish the relationship for what it was.

3. Think About the Children

“How to walk away from somebody you love” becomes a lot more complicated if there are children involved. You must now also think about how the breakup will affect them.

It’s a fine line to walk. On the one hand, you want things to be clear between you and your partner. They need to know it’s over.

On the other hand, you ideally want your children to maintain a good relationship with their other parent.

You need to communicate this as clearly as possible. Tell your partner, “I want you out of my personal life. But I am not trying to cut you out of our children’s lives. These are two different issues.”

At the same time, beware. Often, the partner who is getting broken up with will use the kids as leverage. “We should stay together for the children.”

That’s a terrible proposition. Don’t fall for it.

While it will be hard for your kids to deal with the breakup initially, in the long run, it will make things better. Growing up in an atmosphere of mutual resentment doesn’t do anything for your children’s happiness.

4. Have the Talk

At some point, you need to sit down with your partner and have “the talk.”

There is no scenario where you have the talk and feel good about it. Even the most self-possessed partner will let you know how disappointed they are in you, if just through their body language.

It’s just the nature of these things. Prepare for it.

Be careful not to stack different crises onto each other. If your partner just learned that their brother had a stroke, give them a few days.

On the other hand, it is tempting to come up with reasons to postpone having the talk. “Oh, he is under a lot of stress at work right now. This can wait.”

Stop making excuses. Unless there is a real crisis, get it over with.

5. Don’t Ghost Them

Don’t ghost them. Sure, if it was a just fling and everybody knew so, you can let it fizzle out.

But if the two of you had some type of a long-term relationship, do them the courtesy of letting them know what the deal is.

Just put yourself in their shoes. If you were in love with somebody, and they suddenly disappeared, you would go crazy from pain. Don’t do that to anybody.

6. Be Honest

Don’t spout platitudes like, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Let them know the actual reasons why you are leaving.

You are talking to a person that, for a long time, you shared your deepest secrets with. Why would you stop now?

It’s not even so much about them. Above all, you want to be congruent with yourself. You don’t want to be the kind of person who resorts to lying as soon as the situation gets a bit uncomfortable.

If you give in to these tendencies now, you will do so again in the future. And it will get easier every time.

It will spoil your character. Lying to avoid confrontations has that effect. You will be dissatisfied with yourself as you realize what a weasel you have become.

Don’t do this to yourself. Be honest, and weather the storm.

7. Never Argue

Most people who get broken up with become argumentative.

On the one hand, they want to justify the mistakes they made. On the other hand, they want to point out that you also made plenty of mistakes.

Either way, don’t engage.

This is not the time to argue. You probably had the same arguments a million times before and they didn’t lead anywhere. Why would they now?

This is the time to call it quits.

Give them an honest, short assessment of why you are leaving them. When they start to argue, tell them, “I don’t want to argue about this. I have made up my mind. If you have any questions, I will answer them. But I won’t get into a fight with you.”

Now, many people will try to draw you out, e.g., by insulting you. At this point, simply get up and leave.

8. Never Blame

I was recently a spectator at a breakup, that quickly turned into payback day. The person doing the breaking up was using the opportunity to air their dirty laundry.

No matter what they did to you — don’t kick the other person when they are already down.

If you feel the need to discuss your pain, do so with an outsider, ideally a therapist or a coach. It will be much more of a cathartic experience.

9. Move Out

If you are living with someone but want to break up, this will require some planning.

Think about what this exactly entails. Here are some common stumbling blocks:

  • What about your current lease? Whose name is it under? Do you first need to be removed from it?
  • Do you have the money right now to move out and live by yourself? Or will you have to find someone who takes you in, e.g., your parents or a friend?
  • How much stuff do you have? Can you do the move yourself or do you need to hire a moving agency?

However, never let logistics intimidate you.

Even if you can’t come up with a perfect solution on the spot, still go through with the breakup. Things have a way of working themselves out.

10. Clear Out Your Life

Once you are broken up, you should remove all things that remind you of your ex. This will help you move on.

Many people opt to dump these memorabilia. I think that’s a mistake.

Just put this stuff in a box and store it with a friend. Alternatively, rent some storage space.

If you are a minimalist like me, you can also take pictures of your memorabilia, and then dump them. Then you put these pictures in a folder and send it to a friend. Delete the folder from your computer for the time being.

Understand — you will eventually get over this. Your grievances will fade. And once that happens, it will be nice to revisit some of the nice times you had together.

Also, your lover will die at some point, and they might die before you do. By then, you will be glad you didn’t destroy everything that reminds you of them.

11. Unfollow Them

Unfollow your ex on all the different social media platforms.

For starters, you shouldn’t be looking at pictures of your ex right now. It will just slow down the healing process.

Second, whatever people post on social media during a breakup is eyewash. They assume their ex is watching. So, they do whatever they can to make the other person regret their decision.

You don’t need any of this. Unfollow them.

But should you also delete their number?

I tend not to, especially if I don’t have other means of contacting them.

For example, if your ex is living in another country, if you delete their number, you might never be able to reach out to them again. I think that is a mistake.

Once the dust settles, there is a chance you could turn this into a deep friendship. That’s worth a lot. Thus, I would keep their number.

If you are tempted to call them out of desperation, give your ex’s number to a friend for keeping.

Then delete it from your phone for the time being. In a year or two, if you want to, you can reach out to them as friends.

12. Prepare for the Pain

People who walk away from someone they love often underestimate the level of grief they will experience. After all, it’s them doing the walking.

It will often hit you when you least expect it, e.g., when there is a movie playing on TV that you once watched together.

Steel yourself for these surprise hits. They will come.

Never reach out to your ex during those moments of weakness, though. It might feel nice to rekindle things in the moment, but you will pay the price for it later. The issues you broke over haven’t gone away.

13. Get Support

When you are feeling mopey, it is important that you have people that you can reach out to. This could be a family member or a friend.

Be picky, though. Don’t call on people who will use this as an opportunity to gossip about your ex. It will make you feel worse. Prefer people who will just listen.

Generally speaking, men struggle with finding emotional support more than women.

That’s because their relationships tend to be less touchy-feely. Men would rather do stuff together than talk about their emotions.

But when you are having a crisis, that will come back to bite you in the butt.

Hence, it might be a good idea to cultivate a few touchy-feely friendships for rainy days. If it’s too late for that, consider enlisting the help of a therapist or coach.

14. Meditate

The time after a breakup is ideal for getting into meditation.

Because of the emotional turmoil you are in, your inner barriers are more “permeable” than usual. That will make it easier for you to plunge into deeper stages of consciousness.

Also, meditation will help you deal with the pain.

Meditation is about observing yourself. Whatever you feel — anger, anxiety, sadness — you simply watch that emotion.

By observing it, that negative emotion starts to dissolve. What you are left with is a state of catharsis, not unlike what you feel after a good cry.

15. Use the Energy

After every break-up, there comes a point when you experience a surge of energy.

We feel we are done with one chapter in our lives and about to start another one. Suddenly, there is potential. Change is in the air.

Harness that.

Commit to getting fit. Start that passion business you always dreamed of. Learn a new language.

What I advise against is partying it up with your friends. That’s a waste of that precious energy.

16. Get Out There

I just said you shouldn’t party. However, I am all for putting yourself out there. Just do so without getting intoxicated and wasting lots of time.

Learn how to talk to strangers. There are numerous occasions throughout the day — on your way to the subway, in line at the supermarket — when you could have a quick, flirty interaction with someone attractive.

Granted, this is easier said than done. Men in particular suffer from crippling anxiety when it comes to chatting someone up. Women, on the other hand, are often caught up in gender stereotypes. “But I want him to make the first move.”

Either way, you must get over yourself.

Turn this into a project. For example, every time you leave the house, give a compliment to a stranger. Just tell them that they look nice today and then leave. Done.

Once you can do that, ask a follow-up question to keep the interaction going. “You don’t seem like you are from around here. If I had to guess, I would say you are from … Am I right?”

If they are responsive, keep chatting. Throw in a few teases. “Oh, we are so getting divorced.” This way, you don’t get friend-zoned.

It might seem goofy, but I have seen both men and women change their lives going through this process. Stick to it, and it will happen for you, too.

17. Don’t Take Them Back

There is a good chance that at some point, your ex will come crawling back to you.

That is even more likely to happen if you made a hard cut. By removing them from your life, you have shown that you are in control of yourself. You don’t depend on them.

That is extremely attractive.

Couple this with the emotional and sexual familiarity that still exists between you, and post-breakup sex is on the horizon.

Don’t do it, though.

You should be out there creating new sexual opportunities for yourself, not shagging up with your ex, a person you know full well is not compatible with you. You are wasting time.

You are making it worse for your ex, too. By taking them back, even just for sex, you are rekindling their romantic feelings for you. When you then remove yourself again, you are essentially breaking up with them for the second time. That is twice the pain.

Be kind — don’t take them back.

Is Walking Away Always the Right Move?

It depends.

There are definitely situations where it’s best to cut ties with somebody for good.

For example, if your partner was violent towards you, you should get out of there and never look back. No matter how much they promise you to change, they never do.

However, if you find yourself in a situation like this, it is high time you did some soul-searching.

We don’t just stumble into “toxic” relationships. To paraphrase Freud, there are no accidents. The people we end up with are a direct reflection of our own personality.

So, if you regularly must make a getaway from bad relationships, consider the real problem — you. You are allowing people into your life that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

In a relationship between mature adults, it is rarely necessary to banish the other person from your life forever.

On the contrary, it can be highly rewarding to remain friends. Some of my most cherished confidants in life are former lovers of mine. It’d be much worse off without them.

My rationale — if I let someone get close to me in the first place, it is because they are exceptional people. Such people are hard to come by. So why would I get rid of them, just because we ended our sexual relationship?

Having said that, it is still best to create some initial distance. This will allow both of you to move on.

Once that period of decoupling is over, you can now meet again, and assign each other new roles in your lives. You will see — often, this platonic continuation of your relationship will be more rewarding than the original, sexual relationship.

2 thoughts on “How To Walk Away From Someone You Love”

  1. I’ve to walk away because of his DIL, she’s a serious Muslim, I don’t want to be a secret and steel time with him at my age of over 60 nor do I want to compromise him because I do love him far too much , but it hurts me very much

    Reply

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