Whether in our personal or professional lives, there are relationships which will come to an end. Of course, if both parties work together, any relationship can be salvaged and perhaps grow stronger as a result of the effort. However, some are meant to end. Some of these will end more abruptly than others. Some will hurt more than others.
Why do relationships end? There are countless reasons, but poor communication is chief among them. By not listening to each other and communicating our thoughts, feelings and decisions, it leads to differences of opinion, misunderstandings and arguments. If we feel misunderstood, unappreciated or that another’s actions have hurt or offended us, it’s natural that we would want to distance ourselves from them. That said, sometimes we simply outgrow some relationships. As we learn, grow and develop ourselves, we seek the company of other likeminded people who will challenge and inspire us. Like attracts like, after all.
In business or the professional arena, the ending of a relationship can have financial consequences or negatively impact the reputation of a business. The best way to deal with this and find closure is to focus on forging new relationships, and revisiting your marketing strategy. New relationships can potentially be even more mutually beneficial than the ones which have ended, and by revisiting your marketing strategy, you make sure that it is relevant and up to date.
Finding closure in a personal relationship is not that easy. There are the stages of pain, anger and self-doubt to contend with. In truth, they are more than stages, and closer to rites of passage which you have to go through. Even if there was a way to avoid these, would you really want to? As painful as they may be, they help us to stop and reflect on who we are, what we want in life and what we are prepared to accept from others. This is what helps us to identify the kinds of people we want in our lives, and to find and cultivate relationships with them. It serves to enrich our lives greatly, because the experience of an ending relationship teaches us an awful lot about ourselves, such as where we went wrong, what areas of our lives we need to work on improving and what behaviour we accepted from others but now regret. We bounce back stronger as a result, with a clearly defined set of standards.
So how do you end a relationship, whether it’s a romantic one or a friendship. In person. Unless it’s a long distance relationship, there is no excuse for an adult to be ending a relationship by Skype, text message or social media. It’s childish and weak.
So, what do you do exactly?
- Arrange a meeting in person. Talk to them in person. Explain that you are parting ways and why. Give them a chance to ask any questions or offer any explanations. This is very important in making the break as amicable as possible, but also for your peace of mind. The thought of doing this can be terrifying, though, and if it is, consider asking a mutual friend to join you or arrange a joint counselling session in which to do it.
- Avoid airing your dirty laundry in public. There may very well be mutual friends, but whatever happens, avoid involving them. It will make you look weak, and make them feel uncomfortable. Is it really worth risking these relationships, just so that you can tell others how awfully your former friend/ partner treated you?
- Keep any photographs or gifts, but store them safely in a box. Short-term, you will want to be rid of any reminder of that person. These gifts and pictures, however, are memories of good times, and you will regret not keeping them. Put them in a box and put that box away safely.
- Cut off contact. It sounds harsh, but remember that you have decided that you no longer want this person in your life. Why then would you still have their phone number, or remain connected via social media? Maintaining any form of communication, will only give that person the opportunity to keep contacting you. In this instance, be ruthless and cut them off.
- Question time. Now is the time to slowly get to work, asking yourself why you are ending this relationship, what you may have done wrong or could have done better and what you really want in a friend/ partner. Also think carefully about your standards. What are you prepared to accept in your life, and where do you draw the line?
- Write them a letter. Once written, it’s up to you whether you send it or burn it. The act of writing the letter is what matters here. You may have written down your thoughts and feelings already in your journal, but this is different. Grab a notepad and start writing. There are a few rules, though. Obviously, you must address it to the person in question. After all, this is your chance to communicate anything which you were unable to in person. Ensure that the tone is friendly and polite, with no name-calling or finger-pointing. The purpose of this letter is to convey to this person how they made you feel and why you chose to end the relationship. Describe the behaviours which you accepted but now regret. If there was any wrongdoing on your part, this is your chance to explain yourself.
The above list is by no means definitive, but it worked for me and I hope that it might help others too. In my case, I was getting over the ending of my relationship and writing the letter was the key to finding closure. I actually sent mine and this gave me an incredible feeling of liberation. Nothing has been left unsaid, and I feel free and at peace.
What do you do to find closure after the end of a toxic relationship?