To end the distance, go the distance: how to end a long-distance relationship

Now, I know some of you will be reading this title with some sort of confusion or even an exasperated eye-roll. Perhaps you think, “Why do people need to be told how to end a relationship?” Or, “Isn’t it common sense?” Or even, “Just shoot them a text, no biggie.” If you’re reading this and know that you’re going to be the one to bite the bullet and end a long-distance relationship, there are a few things to consider.

Here’s the brutal truth, there is no easy way to end a relationship without hurting someone. Unless you’re one of the lucky-unlucky people who finds themselves in a mutual break-up, then, more likely than not, one of you is going to be the one to bear most of the sadness at a good thing coming to an end.

The first: don’t feel guilty.

Or at least, beat the guilt into a minimal tiny ball. There’s not always a reason behind any break-up, sometimes things just fizzle out, lose their pizzazz, and they might even turn sour because you’ve been holding on to the dregs of feelings long past their expiry date. But think of it this way: at least you cared about that someone enough to even try a long-distance relationship.

Once you’ve accepted that what you’re feeling – or not feeling – is the slow death that a lot of long-distance relationships go through, it’s going to be somewhat easier to stand your ground, hold your head high, and end it in the best way for everyone.

The second and main point is: don’t leave it to the droids.

If you think a text is an acceptable mode of breaking up with someone then, to be frank, you’re an ass.

Almost everyone knows the temptation to just put it all in a long text, or even a voicemail message. It’s a million times easier when there isn’t someone stood right in front of you because then you don’t have to deal with any tears – whether yours or theirs – or any anger, shouting, pleas to try just a bit longer, second-guessing yourself, or all of the above. There’s a reason the saying is ‘the easy way out’, and this is why. But taking the easier route is not the right route.

Put yourself in your partner’s shoes: you come home from work, or wherever, to a paragraph or two minutes of speech, ending your relationship with someone you love dearly. It is the emotional equivalent of karate-chopping someone to the throat. Texts are notorious for being misread, as we don’t get to see all-important physical cues. You might think you’re coming across as sensitive and eloquent when all someone else sees is a text filled with abruptness, harshness, or even deliberate cruelty.

Phone calls are only marginally better and are still a bit of a cop-out. This may not necessarily be a rushed process. No matter how soon you want to be single and leave the relationship unless it is toxic or even worse, emotionally abusive, communicating your reasonings, is a must.

The only way to end a long-distance relationship with dignity and, hopefully, with salvaging most of the feelings of everyone involved, is to go the extra mile and visit them to do it face to face. You can have a meal at your favourite place, visit your old haunts, or just find a quiet room at home to talk and bring the relationship to a close. Yes, it will most likely be awkward, you might stumble, mess up the words you planned meticulously on the train journey down, and stutter your way through it. But you’ll be worth a hell of a lot more by the end of it, and afterwards, the healing and post-relationship begin.

No matter how your partner reacts to it at the time, one day they’ll be able to appreciate the effort and courage taken to split up with them face to face. Because once upon a time, you loved or at least liked them enough to start the relationship. The least you can do is show that your respect and feelings for them – even diminished – aren’t going to be betrayed at the end of it.

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