I am horrible at confrontation. Or at least, I tell myself I am. I never had any examples of conflict resolution growing up, so when I became an adult and got into arguments with friends, boyfriends, or in the work place, I had no idea what to do. And when it came to knowing how to break up with someone, I was essentially clueless.
Growing up, my parents never fought. You'd think that was a good thing, but if you never see people fight, you also never see them make up. So my beliefs growing up were that 1) people in relationships do not fight and 2) if they do, they should break up, because communication isn't an option.
Usually, if you think you're bad at confrontation, it's because you think constructive communication is a bad thing. It's something that only happens when there's trouble. You associate emotional vulnerability with discomfort, so any conversation that requires openness and honesty immediately becomes problematic rather than enriching. This is usually a learned behavior, and it doesn't have to be your mindset forever. It's all about switching your perception, so that communication is seen as an authentic human interaction, rather than an obstacle you have to overcome, avoid, or win.
So here's how to break up with someone when you're bad at confrontation. Because it doesn't have to be as awful as you think it is.
1. Plan Out What You're Going To Say First
I still remember the first time I ever wrote a breakup script. I was in eighth grade, wanted to end things with my VERY SERIOUS boyfriend at the time, and was terrified to do it. So I wrote out exactly what I wanted to say (several pages long), called him at home on his landline (we had those back then), read it to him verbatim without allowing him to respond, and then hung up.
While this is not the most desirable way to break up with someone, winging a breakup can be intimidating. So having some sort of plan of action or an idea of what you want to say can help the guide the conversation to go as smoothly as possible.
Remember to make sure you approach the situation with love. Talk about your feelings, but don't confuse them with facts, which are different. Leave room for this person to ask questions and clarify any confusion, so both you and your partner can get closure. And don't forget to set clear boundaries for the future, so you both know how to proceed with moving on.
Like they say, practice makes perfect. So after you've created the perfect breakup script (or at least have some sort of idea of what you're going to say), practice it to yourself or with a close friend. Think of it like running lines before an actual scene, so that the conversation feels organic (and not like me in eighth grade) when you and your partner finally meet to talk about your relationship.
If you're practicing with a friend, you can even try to anticipate topics of conversation that might come up during your breakup, so you're extra prepped for anything that might arise.
3. Treat It Like A Conversation, Not A Confrontation
There is a difference between confrontation and having a conversation. Confrontation usually alludes to fighting, anger, or disrespect. None of that has to happen during a breakup unless you allow it to. A breakup can be just as loving as your relationship was, if that is your goal.
Think of a breakup more like a transformation. It's the beginning of a new segment of your life. While it's the ending of the romantic dynamic between you and your partner, that doesn't mean talking about it has to be scary. You just need to change your perception about what a breakup is.
So if you think you're bad at confrontation, that's OK, but realize you're probably not. Maybe you just have a skewed definition of what confrontation actually is. Replace the word confrontation with "communication" in your vocabulary, and see if it gets any easier for you. You might be surprised at how changing your thoughts can help change your actions.
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