I remember ending my relationship of four years over FaceTime and thinking, "Now what?" My ex and I didn't really know how to break up with someone long-distance, but we also knew that we couldn't stay in a relationship that no longer made us happy. It would be months before we could see each other in person, and waiting would just mean prolonging the inevitable.
I can't say for certain if we went about this the right way, especially because we still reconnected months later to get closure in person. Our breakup via video chat felt unnatural, unconvincing, and incomplete, but it's not uncommon for most long-distance relationships to end this way.
Relationship coach and professional matchmaker Sameera Sullivan tells Elite Daily that if breaking up in person isn't an option (which is usually the case in long-distance relationships) then breaking up over the phone is the next best thing, but not for the reason you'd think. Sullivan recommends this method because it allows you to prepare a script beforehand — nothing that feels insincere, just something that's thoughtful and coherent so that you manage to get through the call without going back on your difficult decision.
The more obvious reason to break up over the phone or video chat is because it's about as close to an in-person connection as you can get. Relationship expert and life coach Diana Dorell tells Elite Daily, "Unless it was an absolutely horrible relationship, it's always better to give the other person the courtesy of your full presence, which, let's be honest, is hard to achieve with email or texts that can feel more like one-way conversations."
Deciding on the medium over which you break up with your long-distance partner is only the beginning. Sullivan and Dorell answered three other crucial questions you might have about calling it quits when you're miles apart.
How should you bring up the topic of breaking up?
This is tough to do even in person, but the least you can do is give your partner a heads up that you've got something not-so-great to tell them. Sullivan says if you know their schedule, you can try to take this into account, aiming not to distract them from any major events like a midterm or job interview. If you don't know their schedule, it's better to play it safe and save your conversation for later in the day when they're less likely to be preoccupied.
"Send them a text at the end of the day or on a night you know they don't have any commitments, letting them know you have something you'd like to discuss about the relationship. Ask them to call you when they're home and available," says Sullivan. By your text, they'll be able to deduce the nature of the conversation to come, especially if things haven't been great between you two. Sullivan adds, "They'll have a chance to briefly process how things might go and form a reaction they feel is appropriate."
If all of this seems easier said than done, I can relate, which is why Dorell offers up an exact script to turn to. "A simple, 'Are you free tonight at this time? There's something I want to share with you,' is all you need," she says. OK, got it. So what comes next?
What should you say on the actual call?
Treat this like you would any other breakup. Allow yourself and your partner sufficient time to share your thoughts and feelings about the progression of the relationship up until this point, as well as why you have decided this is the best decision going forward.
If you're feeling nervous about what you're going to say, Dorell says, "Remember that we hear the energy and tone behind words more than we hear the words themselves, so if you don't feel like saying anything other than the basics, that's OK!" As long as you're speaking from the heart, you'll know what to say when the time comes.
Sullivan adds wisely that as important as it is to go through this process patiently and graciously, you shouldn't forget the purpose of the call, which is to end the relationship. Sometimes, you can get so caught up in trying to console yourself and your partner during a breakup that you forget to declare an actual end to the relationship. "This needs to be made clear so neither party is confused or worse, has to be broken up with again," she explains.
How can you get closure when you can't say goodbye in person?
This, for me, was the hardest part of ending my long-distance relationship. Physically walking away from someone after a breakup somehow feels a lot more definitive than simply hanging up the phone, especially in a long-distance relationship where talking on the phone is a part of your nightly routine. It's almost as though nothing has really changed, except for the fact that now you feel incredibly sad and lonely.
Unfortunately, there's no real solution for this. If you're up for it, Dorell recommends coming up with a breakup ritual that you can act out to make things feel more tangible. She says, "Light a candle and envision your partner sitting across from you. Tell them all the things they taught you that you are grateful for — what you want out of a relationship and what you no longer want. Then blow out the candle and dance it out or go out with friends." The goal is to have something fun planned or some source of support ready for when you get off the phone.
As far as coming to terms with the relationship ending, Sullivan says that will come with time. Eventually, you'll realize why that relationship needed to end and how far you've come since.
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