By Deepak Kashyap:
Announcing a wish to break up with our partner is very difficult. We do not want to be ‘the bad person’ by choosing to leave, and/or go through acute negative emotions when we see our soon-to-be-ex-partner in pain, because they have been made aware of our desire to leave the relationship.
We may be taught a lot from our childhood. However, how to be emotionally wise in inter-personal relationships is not one of the lessons that we focus on. So, when we face emotionally challenging situations with a virtually empty quiver of skills to deal with them, we duck and/or delay. We are also bad at breakups because we misplace and misuse the ‘kindness license’, regardless of how genuinely we feel the emotion of kindness. We must realise that offering pity masked as real love, just because we want to appear kind, is not the kindest thing to do. Sometimes, a polite assertion of our desire to leave is also an act of kindness, where you are sparing the other person insult and injury. In any case, the hopes and expectations of spending life together is based on foundations of ‘delayed truth’ and a lack of emotional investment – and these are harmful indeed.
Our ineptness at ending or exiting a relationship with dignity is not because we are evil, or because we harbour any malice for our partner. It is generally because we are not trained to look at our emotions, and deal with them in a way that respects the ‘self’ and others as well.
As a psychotherapist who deals with marriage and relationship counselling, I regularly hear about people breaking up by SMS or emails, and on WhatsApp and other messengers. These methods promise lesser discomfort of seeing ourselves in a bad light, or our partners pained, by simply avoiding the necessity of a face-to-face confrontation.
We might well ask, “What is wrong with breaking up via text if it does reduce the pain and makes the process smoother?” This is a question that is fair enough. The answer is hidden in another question: “Does it make it really easier for both the parties involved?” If it does, and it has been discussed beforehand as an option mutually agreed upon – we can go for it, by all means. However, if it hasn’t been talked about, we should remember that we would be breaking up with our partner, who would then wonder and question the entire validity of the relationship, before the breakup happened.
While we are not entirely responsible for how our fellow partner interprets life events, we can be held accountable for the ‘room’ and ‘scope’ that we leave for the varied interpretations of our actions. Although I am fully aware that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’, one should strive to show the brave kindness of breaking up, face-to-face, with assertive explanations, thereby granting the person and the relationship the dignity that they deserved.
The author is a psychologist.
This article was first published here. It has been published on YKA by the author’s permission.