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How to break up with someone who never saw it coming

Repressing the reasons why you are moving on to save or prevent emotional reactions isn’t always the wisest approach. Picture:

Repressing the reasons why you are moving on to save or prevent emotional reactions isn’t always the wisest approach. Picture:

Published May 16, 2019


When it’s time to make a clean break, whether it’s a personal or business relationship, there are certain strategies you can follow to help make the process as painless as possible. Human behaviourist Dr John Demartini details the best approach.


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If you have grappled within yourself about whether to stay or go, and you have finally made the decision to break up a relationship, whether it be a dating relationship, a partner in a marriage, a company partnership or a business transaction, you and the person that you are in the relationship with deserve a clean break. 

Repressing the reasons why you are moving on to save or prevent emotional reactions isn’t always the wisest approach. Both you and the other person deserve some closure.


So sit down and write out objective facts, not emotional feelings; objective facts that substantiate the reason why you’re moving on. This way, both you and the other person involved will not have lingering ties or emotions and hold on to fantasies that may prevent you from ending the relationship.


Let me give you an example of a Dallas couple. The man was angry when his wife finally told him that she had had an affair. The problem was that she had carried on the affair for a while, and this had eroded their relationship and the family dynamic. 

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Instead of being upfront about her affair, she had been waiting for the timing to work to her advantage, waiting for the other man to have a certain stability before she ended her marriage.


So the marriage lingered on. She knew the relationship was over, but she was distorting and lying about it because she was trying to make the break amenable.  When she eventually told her husband the truth, he was furious because it came out of the blue. 

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Suddenly he was faced with the reality that she had had an ongoing affair, that she had been lying to him, and was leaving him. So he was angry.


I had been called in to mediate. I sat down with her and explained to her that she would be wise to reveal to him the truth, which is that she was leaving him. But she said no, he couldn’t handle it. 

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I said that she needed to give him every single reason why she had left him emotionally years ago. That she had stayed and had only decided to tell him now when the timing was right with her new partner. 

This was the only way that he would be able to get on with his life, and not hold onto a fantasy that she would be coming back. He needed to have a clean break.


So we made a very extensive list – about 17 pages of everything she couldn’t tolerate in the marriage anymore, where she’d reached her limit. Even though she could have probably resolved those things if she’d had the skills or tools, she didn’t, so they festered, and the relationship was over. 

She had stayed and gone through the motions, waiting for the kids to get older, for her new partner to get some stability in his life. She was strategic, she kept the lie going for years.

So she laid it all out, and her husband was dumbfounded by how things had never been addressed, never talked about, so they had just festered. He was stunned and shocked that she had not brought those things up so that they could have worked through them.


He listened and I explained to him that the reason I was making her do this was to ensure that he didn’t hold on to a fantasy.


It is wise to do such integral communications right from the start of the relationship and possibly prevent the overwhelming accumulation of unbearable perceptions, but if there is clarity in at least one of the partner’s minds about  moving on, then be fully open and factual about the reasons and make a clean break. Give the partner the freedom of moving on.


Dr. John Demartini is a human behaviour specialist, educator, author and the founder of the Demartini Institute.

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