Breaking up can be a rough experience for many different reasons: from the fear of ending a relationship to the involvement of third parties, a nice love story full of beautiful memories can become tainted by a long, sloppy conclusion. Hence, the importance of mastering the complicated art of not prolonging the ending too long and being careful not to turn the necessary and painful goodbye into a see you never.
The breakup of Rauw Alejandro and Rosalía was as stormy as it was mysterious, because as soon as the suspicion of the involvement of a third party reared its head, she was quick to deny any hint of infidelity, sowing doubt among her followers. The surprise came when the Puerto Rican released Hayami Hana, a song full of messages addressed to his ex-partner in which he attempts to create a beautiful closure and prevent the relationship from becoming into a sour memory for her.
If the goodbye takes place after an infidelity or some kind of foul play is discovered, that farewell will be inevitably damaged, although, as psychologist Daniel Blasco explains, there are many ways to experience a betrayal. “The main one is anger, but some feel sadness or disappointment. In all cases, we can do things with civility as long as we take responsibility for the fact that our emotions depend on ourselves and the way in which we express them. It can always be done with respect. Of course, respect and civility don’t mean submitting to the needs of the other and suggesting that their actions, in this case betrayal, have no emotional consequences,” he says. “In my opinion, honesty must be a fundamental value in a couple, even to break it,” he adds.
The trap of prolonging the goodbye
Why is it so hard to leave a relationship even when it is clear that it is past its expiration date? “For some people, it has to do with the need to avoid loneliness at all costs, with the feeling of not being able to face everyday life alone. For others, it has more to do with the belief that love conquers everything and that if we still love each other, we must be together even if the relationship is harmful, because love is more than enough. In truth, love is necessary, but many more ingredients are necessary for a relationship to work. For others, it has to do with the feeling of failure caused by ending the relationship, that they are not capable of maintaining the concept of family that they had envisioned,” explains Noemi Seva Vidal, a social worker specialized in gender violence, transpersonal therapist and coach.
“A breakup will always be painful, and it not only means losing the person with whom you shared part of your life, but it also means giving up on future projects, a social life, economic stability, a life you had built together, the person you were in that relationship. Accepting this change is not easy, it can destabilize us emotionally, and it is easy to choose to stick to a relationship that is not working in an attempt to avoid facing all these fears and changes,” she says.
Psychologist Silvia Congost, an expert in emotional dependence, self-esteem and couples therapy, points out that prolonging something that is toxic, that no longer satisfies us and that, consequently, makes us feel bad, is always counterproductive. “It deteriorates our health and our emotional state. It wears us down, stunts our growth and often makes us hurt each other further with arguments and constant frustrating conflicts that lead to nothing. Without a doubt, when it is already clear (at least to one of the two parties) that the relationship is not going anywhere, it is best to end it as soon as possible,” she explains.
The last talk
At the end of a relationship, many people try to have a last talk to discuss unresolved issues and try to smooth things over so that the farewell does not tarnish the memory of the relationship. The problem is that there are always things left to say, and sometimes this talk takes an unexpected turn that makes the goodbye even bumpier. How can we not obsess over the fact that this conversation did not work, and how can we refrain from thinking that it might be a good idea to have yet another talk, dooming ourselves to a never-ending farewell?
“By accepting that the relationship was not based on that conversation. There is surely nothing you can do or say that will change the current situation. We must accept that sometimes we expect the other person to be capable of talking, to show empathy, to listen, to also acknowledge our needs, and it turns out that if we are honest, we are not so surprised by how the person is dealing with the situation, because perhaps during the relationship they more or less always behaved in this way. [...] We have to understand that we don’t necessarily have to close the relationship with the other person at all; we can also tell ourselves everything we need and close it ourselves,” explains Seva Vidal.
If there are third parties involved, is it a good idea to mention it, or is it better to keep quiet? “This must be assessed by each person. To find out, it is a good idea to ask yourself: ‘Was being with someone else really the main reason why I decided to leave the relationship, or were there more issues that were not working between us? Does my ex need to know? Is this information going to help them? Will they be able to do something with it? How is it going to impact them, is it going to damage their self-esteem? Can they handle this information right now? How do I want it to affect them, and why? Is there a part of me that wants to hurt them or make them react in some way? How am I going to feel when I confess? Why do I need to do it? What am I looking for with that confession?’ Sometimes, deep down, what we want is to stop feeling guilty. But we have to be careful and be affectively responsible with the other, taking into account their personal circumstances and emotions, to avoid committing a sincericide. There will be cases when the other will need to know that someone else was involved, to process the breakup, and when they request it,” explains life coach Ainoa Espejo.
If the breakup was terrible, and we want to deal with that unpleasant feeling by having one last talk to clarify things, is it better to try to get the one who lied to confess, to confront them with the truth, or to forget about those lies and try to keep things friendly? “Being betrayed is heartbreaking and distressing. It is not uncommon to believe that we need to confirm our suspicions to have peace of mind, to know that we are not crazy, that we were right to doubt. But we must be careful not to get caught up in that search, suffering, obsessing, forcing the other to confess, putting our peace of mind in their hands and giving them a power that they should not have. The fact that they make you feel insecure and that you suspect them of cheating is reason enough to walk away. That’s the only certainty you need: knowing that you deserve the best and that you can trust yourself, because you take care of yourself and protect yourself from what harms you. Give yourself the closure you deserve; don’t torture yourself,” says Espejo.
Congost believes that achieving a happy ending is possible, but both parties must be balanced, mature and rational. “Both have to be able to understand the other and connect with their needs and their innocence, being aware of the learning we took from that experience. If the relationship ends by mutual agreement, that is perfect, it is when that happy ending will be easier, but it’s not always like that, and we don’t always find two people capable of handling things with elegance, education and maturity,” she warns.
As Daniel Blasco assures, what we have to look for is a peaceful ending that leave no pending issues so that we are emotionally prepared to continue experiencing other relationships that can make us grow both individually and as a couple. Try to do the right thing at the end, strive to learn from it and stop obsessing over the perfect breakup, because when we obsess too much over ending a relationship smoothly, we can end up stuck in an eternal farewell.
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