More Than Just a Broken Heart: The Impact of Breakups on Both Sides

We received a message from a lovelorn person backstage. He said: “…I think about these experiences over and over again, but I am also curious. If I am in so much pain, what about the person who broke up with me? Will they also have a bad life? What if the person who broke up with me will have a bad life? Isn’t it unfair to only be happy?”

Indeed, people pay more attention to the state of mind and reactions of people who have been broken up, and there are relatively few studies on people who have broken up.

In various movies and TV shows, breakups are often simply portrayed as “cruel” and “ungrateful” people.

But in fact, people who break up will also adopt different methods, and these methods will also have a negative impact on them.

Today we will talk about the impact of breakup on both parties, different ways of breaking up, and how to end the relationship in an appropriate way if you want to break up.

Five ways to break up, Which one do you hate the most?

When it comes to the scene of a breakup, many people’s first reaction is: two people are sitting face to face in a coffee shop, and one party says: “Let’s break up.”

But according to research by psychologist Leslie Baxter, instead of directly expressing their intention to break up and telling the reasons for the breakup, many times people will try to break up in an indirect way to avoid talking about the breakup with the other party.

Psychologists have summarized the following five strategies based on how people break up (Baxter, 1982; Banks et al., 1987):

a. Public strategy

Talking openly about strategy is the most straightforward strategy. Breakups are direct about their desire to break up and openly discuss why they broke up without hiding the reasons for their breakup.

b. Relationship downgrade strategy

A de-escalation strategy is a gentler way to break up.

The person who broke up will not propose breaking up directly, but will propose to “cool down” the relationship, such as “let’s calm down first” or “let’s be friends first”.

Some people who use this strategy will wait for the relationship to cool down before proposing a definite breakup, or hope that both parties will break up by default after the relationship cools down; but some people hope that the relationship will slowly pick up after the relationship cools down.

Therefore, regardless of the motivation behind the breakup, de-escalation strategies retain a glimmer of hope for “restarting the relationship” in the eyes of the person being broken up with.

c. Positive tone strategy

Breakers who use positive tone strategies will show great care for the other person’s emotions during the breakup process.

They hope to reduce the possibility of conflict between the two parties as much as possible while clearly breaking up, or try to reduce the harm to the other party.

Commonly used methods include trying to empathize, such as “You must be sad,” or using self-blame to try to reduce the other person’s guilt, such as “It’s my fault” and “You are too good, don’t you deserve it?” Fuck you” (Banks et al., 1987).

d. The strategy of leaving without saying goodbye

Those who break up will not tell their partners that they want to break up, but will express their intention to break up by deliberately alienating, disappearing, and refusing to communicate.

It often takes a while for the person being broken up to vaguely realize that they have been broken up with.

e. Manipulation strategies

Manipulation tactics refer to the way the breakup uses various means to force the other party to break up, or to get the other party to stay away.

For example, some people will use a “passive attack” method to force the other party to break up by doing bad things, such as deliberately quarreling, etc.

Some people will also try to get a third party to intervene and let the third party convey their desire to break up on their behalf. For example, let a mutual friend mention it intentionally or unintentionally: “I heard that XXX wants to break up with you?”

The breakup method used by the breakup will be affected by many factors. Facing different partners, breakup strategies will be different.

So, what factors influence people’s breakup strategies?

Why did he break up with me in this way?

1. If the other party directly proposes to break up, it may mean that you were once very close.

Which strategy the breakup adopts is related to the degree of intimacy with the partner. The closer you are, the more directly and frankly you will express your intention to break up, such as using public strategies and positive tone strategies.

This may be because the higher the degree of intimacy, the more willing two people are to self-disclose and talk about their thoughts.

Moreover, relying on the understanding brought about by past intimacy, the breakup person is sure of what kind of reaction his words will bring to the other party, and is not afraid that the person being broken up will suddenly lose control.

Couples who are not close enough will be more likely to adopt the strategy of breaking up without saying goodbye to avoid possible conflicts. Therefore, if you broke up honestly and directly, I believe you were at least close to each other.

2. The more people you know together, the more they will care about your feelings.

Research has found that the higher the overlap in social relationships between partners, the more the breakup person will consider the feelings of the person being broken up and adopt breakup strategies that take into account the other party’s emotions, such as positive tone strategies and relationship downgrading strategies (banks et al., 1987).

This may be because the breakup person is trying to maintain his or her social image and avoid being accused of being “cruel” by people who know each other. The breakup person will worry that if the two break up on bad terms, it will not sound good if the news spreads.

Additionally, the more people you know in common, the less likely you are to leave without saying goodbye.

Because the person breaking up understands that there are many ways for the person being broken up to find themselves, it is unrealistic to disappear suddenly, and it may also cause embarrassment because the person being broken up will mobilize mutual friends to find someone else.

3. The way he chooses to break up also depends on whose fault he thinks the breakup is.

The attribution of the reasons for breakup also affects the breakup strategies people adopt.

The more you believe that the person being broken up with is responsible for the deterioration of the relationship (for example, the other person cheated), the more likely you are to express your anger by openly confronting someone and directly pointing out that the breakup is the person’s responsibility.

And if you think that the end of the relationship is mainly due to external factors (such as job changes), then the person who broke up will cherish the relationship between the two more, will tend to leave some hope for the relationship to get back together in the future, and will use more Talk about the breakup in a positive, friendly way.

4. Attachment style affects how we break up

In the attachment style, people with a high degree of “abandonment anxiety” will be afraid of “losing a relationship” even if they want to break up, so they will delay the breakup as much as possible.

Or even if you take the initiative to break up in name, it will be difficult to actually cut off the relationship with your ex. They will tend to adopt the strategy of “relationship de-escalation” and “positive tone”, hoping to continue to be friends with the other party and even retain the possibility of getting back together.

People with a high degree of “intimacy avoidance” tend to avoid contact with the person being broken up when they break up. They are more likely to use break-up tactics of “walking away without saying goodbye” or “manipulation.”

For example, they may suddenly distance themselves from you, expect you to break up, or simply inform you of their intention to break up on their phone and avoid meeting in person later.

People with secure attachment styles are more likely to directly express their intentions to break up with their partners. Securely attached people view changes in their relationships, including breakups, more positively.

They believe that even if this relationship ends, they still have the opportunity and ability to enter the next relationship with others, so breaking up is not a terrible thing.

Different ways to break up, It affects both the breakup and the breakupee

The breakup itself will not only have an impact on the person being broken up, but it will also have a positive or negative impact on the person breaking up.

Studies have found that people who break up also experience negative emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, and confusion. Moreover, unlike those who have been broken up, those who have broken up will have a complex mood that is mixed with happiness and guilt (Perilloux & Buss, 2008).

However, different ways of breaking up will have different impacts on both parties.

1. Directly talk about the breakup vs avoid talking about the breakup

Contrary to people’s imagination, the disclosure strategy brings the least psychological pressure to the person being broken up, and the anger of the person being broken up is also lower than that of people who have experienced separation without saying goodbye.

Moreover, talking about the breakup directly also gives both parties the opportunity to improve themselves, to understand the specific problems in the disintegration of the relationship, and maybe find the possibility of repairing the relationship; and if there is really no way to restore it, the sharing and feedback from both parties can help them improve. Self-understanding and self-improvement.

On the contrary, if the person who broke up refuses to communicate about the breakup, such as using non-saying or manipulative methods, although it will make himself more comfortable, it will cause greater harm to the person being broken up with.

When people experience their partner leaving without saying goodbye, they may keep guessing about what caused the other person to leave, uncontrollably thinking about things related to the breakup, unable to stop even if they want to, and trying to find the reason for the breakup. This will take them more time to let go.

In addition, if the breakup person avoids telling the reason for the breakup, or does not explain it clearly, then the person being broken up with cannot help but repeatedly ask for the real reason, and may even tend to feel that the breakup is not serious and that there is a possibility of getting back together. , it becomes more difficult to let go of the relationship.

2. Taking care of each other’s emotions when breaking up vs. only caring about oneself when breaking up

Some people use positive tone or relationship de-escalation strategies when breaking up to take care of the other person’s emotions. But doing so may cause more harm to both parties.

Research has found that if the party who initiates the breakup actively blames themselves and tries to understand and consider the other party’s feelings, they will be more likely to feel depressed and less “relieved” after the breakup.

The person being broken up also has complicated feelings about this method.

Some people who have been broken up will feel that the good intentions of the person who broke up with them are “hypocritical”, and then they will feel even more dissatisfied with the person who broke up with them.

Some people who have been broken up feel that the polite words used by the breakup are only superficial respect and comfort, but actually reduce the intimacy between each other.

There are also cases where the person being broken up will appreciate the breakup person’s thoughtfulness and be more willing to continue to be friends with the other person after the close relationship ends. However, this is not necessarily a good thing, because the person who was broken up may not be able to let go for a longer period of time.

On the contrary, if the person who proposes to break up considers his or her own needs, such as directly telling the intention and true reasons for breaking up, the person being broken up may feel more hurt at the moment, but this hurt feeling can also help him to move on from the relationship faster. come out.

If I want to break up, How to do it better?

In fact, breaking up is not just a moment, it is a process. So we not only have to think about what to do when we break up, but we also have to think about how to spend time before and after the breakup.

1. Before breaking up, think clearly whether you want to break up or not.

Marriage counselor Leslie Doares lists several questions to help people determine whether they really need to break up (Kim, 2016):

Do I view problems in my relationship too emotionally? Are some problems not that serious?
Am I putting my responsibilities on my partner, such as hoping that they will meet all my needs?
Are we still growing individually in our relationship? Still standing still
Does my partner make me better or weaken me?
If I break up, will I be more miserable than I am now?
If I had a child, would I let him stay in this relationship?

If you answered “no” to more than one question above, you may want to consider breaking up. Note that once you’ve made up your mind to break up, don’t delay stating your decision.

If the problems in your relationship are causing you pain and they don’t change, then sooner or later the relationship will end no matter how long you put it off. Procrastinating it will only increase your own pain, and also prevent the other party from finding a more suitable partner earlier.

2. During the breakup: Be kind, open and genuine

Unless there are safety concerns, try to talk face to face. Although the delivery of text messages is fast, it may miss the other party’s non-verbal information.

Directly state your intention to break up and the reason for breaking up. Being direct does not mean being rude. You can choose to express your thoughts in a peaceful and friendly way.

Be careful not to drag out the breakup process. If you don’t want to give the other party unnecessary hope, don’t be vague and make it clear that you want to break up.

If you want to be friends with the other person, you can ask, but understand that the other person may refuse.

And if the other person wants to continue being friends with you, but you don’t want that, don’t choose to accept it just to comfort the other person. This is also not conducive to the self-recovery of both of you.

3. After a breakup: Establish reasonable boundaries

After a breakup, you need to immediately stop doing anything your partner would do with the other person. For example, shopping together, watching movies, dining, etc.

You need to redefine and adapt to the boundaries with each other. You may feel that the distance between the two of you has become farther than ordinary friends at first, but this is necessary.

Don’t take the initiative to contact the other person or care about the other person because of guilt, and don’t have “nostalgia sex” – sleeping with the other person after breaking up because you miss the other person, etc.

Be patient with your ex and understand that they may have emotional reactions: anger, sadness, depression, etc. But don’t let the other person cross the line because you feel guilty.

There is no breakup without causing harm, but if you have decided to leave him or her, minimizing the harm caused by the breakup to each other is the best choice at the moment.

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