How to break-up from a toxic relationship, without being nasty or spiteful

Break-ups can be emotionally stressful, and for both partners. While getting upset and saying nasty things may seem like the natural approach, it pays off in the long run to go about it in a systematic manner and not cause lifelong rifts.

Going through a break up can be painful mentally, emotionally as well as physically exhausting. During the break-up phase, you are likely to feel anxious, go through crying spells, have problems sleeping, eat unhealthy foods, feel social withdrawal, give up on enjoyable activities and have low self-esteem.

“Research has shown that the brain areas that get affected after a painful breakup are similar to the ones that cause actual physical pain,” says Dr Sapna Bangar, Head-Client Care (Psychiatrist), Mpower. During the break-up phase, people may end up catching infections more easily, or see a flaring up of acne and asthma, and muscle stiffness.

The phase when you are getting over a break-up is also characterised by indecisiveness, anger, anxiety and loneliness. “Our brain reads rejection like physical pain, which weakens our immune system. Stress affects our metabolism rate, which leads to poor digestion and weight gain. Sometimes, people tend to shut down their emotions and corner themselves, which leads to an identity crisis,” says Naavnidhi K Wadhwa, coach for Psychology of Eating, diet planning and NLP expert.

No two break-ups are the same. There could be different ways to break-up, different factors behind parting ways, and even the recovery process is not uniform for both partners. But it’s best to be sensitive and truthful with your partner. “Try not to be negative about either the person or the relationship. Choose a right time and place, talk about what both of you gained from this relationship and try not to blame anyone for the break-up,” says Dr Bangar.

Communicate and discuss the issue face to face, don’t take the short cut and do it over texts or email. “When two people are involved in a relationship, they owe a justification to their partner for ending it. Coming to a conducive end will make the process less painful and give clarity to both the individuals,” says Wadhwa.

Focus on the good aspects of the relationship, and be realistic about the reasons behind the break-up. “Be clear about your intentions for moving on, as you don’t want to give your ex-partner any false hopes,” says Dr Bangar.

Start by pointing out the positive traits like how you value your partner’s opinion or how they made you a better person. “Ask and listen to your partner’s reason. During this conversation, be patient and support your partner if they act upset or unhappy,” says Wadhwa.

Being open with your partner will help both of you come to terms with the decision. Have a freewheeling talk about why you are going separate ways. Avoid complete withdrawal or manipulation of your partner. “Using manipulation or deceit or using a third party as a primary reason for breaking up makes the person feel less likely to trust anyone in the future and may make the person feel unworthy,” says Dr Bangar.

Wadhwa says that breaking all ties can lead to health issues for an emotionally weak individual. Instead, she suggests tapering down the communication with your partner gradually. Watch out for negative self-talk, brooding over your mistakes, or idealising the person who dumped you.

Maintaining a positive tone will cut down on your partner’s negative feelings. And openness in communication will bring clarity to the conversation and not lead to a vague ending. To speed up the recovery process from a break-up, it is best to engage in different activities to avoid reminiscing about your partner. “Take a break. Spend time with friends and family who love and value you. Try meditation, indulge in leisure activities or practise sports to cope with the situation,” suggests Wadhwa.

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