It is essential to recognize that during a breakup, it is natural for both parties to use protective strategies that help them to differentiate themselves as a couple to identify as individuals again. This means that some behaviors may appear narcissistic or spiteful.
However, as relationships expert Rori Sassoon says, “Breaking up does not have to be a knockout fight in any way, shape, or form. It can simply be two mature individuals who have decided that it is mutually beneficial for them to part ways.”
Emotional intelligence helps us bring awareness and understanding to these behavioral changes and realize that a breakup signifies growth and change. We can't expect our soon-to-be ex-partner to behave as they did in the early days of the relationship when going through a breakup. They might also struggle to notice that you have protective walls up and are similarly learning to navigate as an individual, not as a couple.
Here are five strategies provided by Rori Sassoon on how to approach a breakup with EI:
Go into the conversation with confidence and security in your decision. If you’re not wavering and remain calm, your delivery will be much easier and streamlined.
Be honest with your partner — maybe the facts speak for themselves. If you’re both unhappy and argue often, these are signs of disconnect within the relationship. Sometimes it is hard to come to terms with your reality instead of living in an 'everything is fine' world and sentiment.
Tell your partner you are not growing together as a couple instead of living two separate lives within the relationship. If you’re not on a linear journey together, you are both wasting time that could be spent with someone in a parallel position.
Consider practicing what you would like to say ahead of time. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, it’s hard to get your words or point across under pressure—especially during a breakup. Write down a few thoughts, over them ahead of time, and your delivery will be much smoother and more eloquent.
Be direct and don’t attack your partner’s character. You want to steer clear of that beloved ad hominem attack — going after the person instead of a particular issue. By taking the high road, you will end the relationship in peace, instead of in romantic turmoil.
A key factor in keeping peace throughout the breakup is realizing that peace does not mean suffering is not present. Suffering is to be expected by both parties. Even if one person is responsible for more heartbreak and pain in the relationship, they still suffer.
Peace is not the absence of suffering but understanding how to navigate the suffering. One tip might be to keep a distance from the person's social network. In some breakups, one person might be in pain and not understand why the other party hurt or rejected them. If you beat yourself up trying to figure it out, obsessively, you will be prolonging your suffering. Know when to walk away, accepting that the faster you move forward in your healing, the better. The energy toward the other party is not what you need right now. That energy must go toward your energy for healing.
When we are amid a breakup, it can open wounds from our childhood. These wounds are often felt as triggers. If your partner betrayed you in some way or neglected you, and you had or observed those experiences in childhood, that might be like salt on a wound.
The root of suffering is "bitter." The opposite of bitter is sweet. Something you can do is give yourself sweet self-care—this might be in the form of healthy fruit snacks at night while cathartically watching a romantic comedy. Another sweet self-care is allowing the bitter, salty tears to flow and releasing tension to manage anger and frustration. Taking baths, exercising, interacting with a support system, and taking a class that enriches you are all ways you can add sweetness to counteract the bitterness; this may also help you mend some triggers that might be surfacing as painful wounds.