9 Things to Tell Yourself When You’re Afraid to End a Relationship

Breaking Up

“F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ The choice is yours.” ~Zig Ziglar

No matter how old I get, no matter how experienced I become, ending a relationship is agonizing.

It represents a loss, and losses hurt.

Deep down, I know if I go through with it, I’ll feel freer—well, not right away, but in a little while anyway—but I’d rather crawl under a rock and ignore the whole thing.

When I was a teen, I went out with a guy who had a major crush on me, although I wasn’t attracted to him. After four months, I wanted out, so I completely disappeared! I ignored all of his phone calls, and that was the end of it.

Another time, I hoped that my boyfriend would cheat on me and get caught so I could find a good enough reason to end things, which eventually happened. And in my twenties, since I lived with my boyfriends, I would just keep quiet, letting things drag on. Cowardly thing to do, huh? Yeah, I know.

Later, I realized that I disliked conflict. I was afraid of it. I was afraid of the disappointment it would cause in them and in myself. And most of all, I was afraid of failure.

Today, I’m no break-up wizard. Trust me. It’ll always be hard. But with time, I developed a few thoughts to give me strength to truly voice my unhappiness in my relationships, and they should help you too.

1. One day these painful moments will be a distant memory.

Think about your past relationships—the one you had fifteen years ago, the one you had ten years ago, or the one you had five years ago. They aren’t your current reality.

Whatever current reality you’re living in will also become a memory five, ten, or fifteen years down the road. Thinking this way helped me lessen the importance of constantly keeping them in my mind.

2. We’ll both be thankful I took action instead of regretful I didn’t.

When I projected myself into the future without the other person, I imagined an alternate life where both of us were with the right person. I imagined us being happy. And then I’d think: how could we hate each other for meeting the real loves of our lives?

Of course in the present moment, we’d be regretful, but in a different time of our lives, we surely would be thankful that someone decided to end things so we could be happier. Why not let that someone be you?

3. Losing someone who makes me unhappy is actually not a loss; it’s a gain.

Losing someone might make you feel like a loser. But if you think of the action of losing someone who makes you unhappy and wonder what it would feel like, it changes your perspective on things.

When I did this, I felt strong. Because I then had the willingness to move, correct, and change the course of my life.

And that’s an achievement in itself. Getting away from someone who brings you torment is the biggest relief. It makes you regain your freedom, your energy, and your life.

4. Maybe we were meant to cross paths with each other, not meant to walk our paths together.

Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements, teaches us that we’re all messengers. We receive messages, or teachings, from people all around us.

And we receive them at certain moments in our lives. Just as teachers came and went in school, other people will also come and go as life, or the school of life, goes on.

And if you have nothing else to learn from someone, it’s simply time to take the other person’s lessons gratefully and continue to walk your path.

5. A relationship is a chapter in my life, not my life’s entire story.

Imagine being the author of your own adventure book. Picture yourself reading it and finishing a chapter. Then ask yourself: What will happen in the next chapter?

And since you’re the writer of your own book, you can add as many chapters as you want. This approach really helped me get excited for my next adventure—which I admit, might be a little scary too.

6. The moments we shared aren’t destroyed; they’re my opportunity to grow.

We always think that when we break up, we kill everything else that was created from it. You can learn so many things about yourself from your previous relationships. In my case, I learned to be more present, more attentive, and more thoughtful. I learned that I had to give myself emotionally if I wanted to have a stronger relationship.

Meditating on your past relationships makes you grow, and learning from them improves future relationships.

7. A relationship isn’t real if I’m not real with myself.

A relationship is about true communication and intimacy. Whenever you’re not honest with yourself, whenever you’re not true to your feelings, you can’t strengthen your bond with your loved one.

Having an honest relationship with yourself might be difficult, but it’s critical.

8. Leaving will hurt, but staying will hurt even more.

If you can’t stop thinking that you’d destroy your loved one if you left, think about how you’d destroy yourself if you stayed. Bring the focus back to yourself and picture yourself in a distant future being in this exact situation. Do you like what you see?

This vision made me see a dark portrait of my life. So I understood that I should only worry about how I feel about myself in the present and that I needed to stop worrying about others so much.

9. I can break free because I trust myself.

You possess a profound inner voice—an all-encompassing, nurturing, and loving voice. Its purpose isn’t to bring you down, but to elevate you and make you accomplish things that are so great and unimaginable that you can feel gratified beyond belief.

Your inner voice will never lie to you. It will always express your deepest truth and guide you with the most precise discernment of what will serve your highest good—even if that means getting out of your comfort zone and taking risks.

It has never let me down, and it won’t let you down either.

Find the Courage to Break Free

Sure, it takes courage to break the news to your soon-to-be-ex that you no longer want to go on. I can attest that you’ll doubt yourself. I can attest that you’ll procrastinate. I can attest that you’ll over-think things, wondering if you’ll make a horrible mistake.

But you’ll feel invigorated once you free your mind and use your intuition as your guide. Know that:

You are able.

You are amazing.

You are strong.

And you deserve happiness. Whenever you feel stuck and unable to break free, bring up one of the above thoughts to give you strength.

Then imagine your new course, as if you were walking on air.

Couple breaking up image via Shutterstock

About Naïby Jacques

Naïby Jacques is passionate about holistic health. As she’s also a vegan chef, she’s on a mission to help people add more plant foods to their diet by giving tips and tricks to make quick, easy, and delicious recipes so they can maintain the lifestyle permanently. Get her free 10 Snacks under 10 min that Are Actually Good for You.

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  • Tracy

    A cowardly disappearing breakup doesn’t give one real freedom no matter what or how you see yourself in the future. I feel it’s always best to be respectful and let the person know so they can have peace and move on easier. We have the gift of sharing time with others and it’s no way to free yourself by littering a human or their feelings. Courage, honesty and integrity = freedom.

  • Janet .

    Yeah being respectful is everything. People who take the easy way out to avoid an unpleasant experience are not honoring another persons dignity. You know you are making that person suffer even more by wondering what happened or hoping you’ll contact them. I feel its immature and selfish to nit show the respect of at least a phone call. It should also be done in the most humane way as possible.

  • Guest

    I completely agree. That’s a great formula!

  • Yes, respect is everything. For you and for the other person.

  • Jess

    Cuz you clearly don’t have commitment issues…

  • javeonbro99

    Thank you naiby, I went through heartbreak at a young age of 16. Im still 16 and im learning to get over things. She left me because I made mistakes in the relationship but I also realized that she was the one when she left so I changed everything about myself and I feel good doing it but later on I realized she was dating someone that was older then us answer I realized that it really is time to move on and so I read this to get me though things and honestly it works. I get better and better everyday. She’ll always be in my heart but at the same time it’s time to move on. Open the next chapter and be happy

  • Snowflake of the Month

    Yet another amazing Tiny Buddha article. I love the perspective on this one: it’s about time one of the relationship help essays came from the viewpoint of “the dumper”. It’s kind of upsetting how the person left behind often assumes those who leave felt no pain in doing so. Actually we did, in advance, and it was agonizing. Watching your hopes and dreams for a relationship die, and the wedding photos you imagined burn to ash in front of you, the fantasy children’s faces turn blurry and black and white then fade away into nothingness, and the names you imagined for them not only begin to mean nothing but become poisoned so you can never imagine or use them again, is painful enough.

    But then to look at that person across from you fooling themselves and, often, hoping to continue fooling you, and knowing, instinctively, that not only are they blocking you from your future good but themselves also, and realizing that they are so desperate for a “something” – some zombie kind of thing resembling a relationship, just oh God please something at all – they are willing to sell out both themselves and you in order to hang on to that… even more painful. The dumper does not believe this and never will understand until s/he goes through it and has to leave someone. Then our pain becomes crystal clear. :/

    It hurts having to suppress your no longer existent attraction to someone you cared about. It hurts being forced to pretend. To lie. It hurts knowing the right partner is out there looking for you but you might miss their arrival because this person here will not let you go. Theirs is also looking for them, but they’re scared. They don’t believe it. They’d rather force things, with you. It’s like having a critically ill newborn who is in pain, and the doctor says the best option is to terminate the poor baby, but your spouse demands NO: LET HER SUFFER, KEEP HER ALIVE SO WE WILL NOT FEEL ALONE.

    It’s selfish to a degree that is extraordinary yet you see partners do it all the time; and then we, making the difficult, awful but ultimately relieving decision to let this undead, nonliving changeling, zombie relationship die with dignity and in peace, are branded “the villains” because we chose to let go, to walk away. How dare we!

    Why, our whole life purpose is to remain, suffer, pretend and supply energy, boosts of self-esteem and cuddling. Dare we trust the Universe that the cuddled deserves, and always has, a different and better partner waiting? Well, if we dare think that then act upon it, how dare we! How dare we put them through Such Pain!

    The subtext I always observe in this is our pain is never recognized, or even acknowledged. To the dumped, the dumper’s pain doesn’t exist until they themselves undergo it, then have to “dump” someone themselves. Funny how we the dumping villains never seem to get that apology email that starts, “I’m sorry I judged you back then. Now I know what you were feeling, and…”

    You’ll probably receive a lot of angry comments from men, because I notice while women can handle being dumped, and deal with the anger and rejection fairly quickly and fairly then move on, men seem to carry this How Dare You assumption and hold on to vengeance, hate and rage far longer. They also then globalize that one woman’s rejection to mean ALL women, and begin acting out against all future women they encounter. So, you’ll be branded as a villainous monster for sure; but I’m a woman, I’ve had to leave men before and probably always will, and I support your article. It’s yet another well-written gem in this jewel cave called Tiny Buddha.

    I wish you people didn’t write so damned well because the day is going by and I am getting very little work done here because I keep reading, and going to the next.

    Excellent article on acting on one’s romantic integrity.

  • Babli

    Its not painful instead it is pain-fly.. If two people are not meant to be together they wont stay together and if both are meant to be together they will find their way.
    So let them go!!
    Let the pain fly high and disappear.
    Remember you yourself is the only person responsible for your happiness.
    Better be yourself, listen to your internal voice.

    People may come and go, but you will remain you.
    So take care of yourself, pamper yourself. The happiness you will get doing these things are beyond skies.
    trust me.
    Let them go!!
    Losers only run!
    We who stay, balance our life are true winners.
    #headhigh #chinup

    Rule your life 🙂

  • bl33ding0ut

    I am facing a deeply painful decision right now. After having been with my long term boyfriend for 7 years, living together over 4 1/2 years, I see no hope left in him. When i talk about trying to make things work, he gives nothing in return in the form of hope. He just acts like he has given up and wants it over with. So, this Monday for the first time in my life, I will be getting an apartment for myself. We both know once I move out, our friendship will dwindle and fade. It will be the hardest thing in the world for me because I have no friends or family, he is all I have had all these years. But what we once had, something so amazing and wonderful, has evolved into something that leaves me in pain every single day. I am tired of crying, tired of feeling so lonely and tired of waiting for him to meet me halfway. So, I am letting go. For my sake. It tears me apart inside but the longer I stay, the longer I will continue to suffer. I have no idea what my future will be like (I have never had friends and he was the only boyfriend I have ever had in all of my 39 years) but life is short and nobody should live in tears. I have to set us both free.

  • remo

    great perspective . this has given me the courage to move on

  • Heather Ferreira

    Attack comments from males in 3… 2… 1…

  • mathildamoon15

    I have been there before. The good news? You will feel as light as a feather. The great news? You’ll look back and be grateful that you did it. More great news? Eventually, you will learn that the entire thing was a lesson.

    Best of luck.

  • Anisah Airhead

    Awesome article! Thank you so much! This gave me so much courage! I will keep these things in mind. Again, thank you <3

  • neethu nath

    Are you ok?

  • boarman

    thank you for posting. my GF left me about a month and a half ago.. being the dumped guy I naturally took it very hard. your comments and perspective have very much put it into place so I can feel empathetic towards her position and understand what she went through as our relationship soured.. after the breakup, I went nuts with trying to be a better person, trying to fix my issues, trying to set in place a plan to heal and get to where she could accept me.. it’s been a crazy 6 weeks, but I’m starting to realize that she’s gone and that I need to accept it. I need to let her go. I was broken for a long time. I couldn’t or wouldn’t change while we were together and she wore down, she couldn’t take it any more. I understand and accept that she needed something that I wasn’t willing or able to give her. The only benefit to this very painful process.. for her and for me, is that I see that I can get better, I’m still trying to get better and I want to be a whole person. I recognize and accept that she won’t be with me on the journey (almost there.. it’s been really hard to let go, logically I know I have to, but emotionally it’s amazingly painful) I’m sure she feels the relief you mention, the act of letting go of me must have been a massive relief for her, once she made that decision and finally. Finally! executed on it.. after reading your post, and as I mentioned earlier, the empathy for her plight rang through.. it’s hard when you’re trapped in your emotions to be empathetic towards the one who dumped you, but it was hard for her, it was hard for her for a long time.. she wrestled with that decision, she had fears, self doubt and experienced her own pain and grief.. for her to stand up and say. it’s over. was a huge process for her and she finally reached the point where she could say ‘its over’.. for the dumpee like me, it was a rude awaking, and it was also too late.. I’m just realizing this now after 6 weeks of trying to get back into her good books, but I know it’s too late. I missed out. she’s gone. She’d already gone through everything I’m going through now.. I miss her, and I love her, but I think it’s time to let go..

  • SUKH-E

    My story is same like your’s story:(

  • Brett Rogers

    I stumbled across this article in a round about way and i have to say, that if you are always the one moving on ,rationalise it any way that brings comfort to yourself . But i don’t buy it , own your reasons for moving on ,as your own , as originating from inside you , not as reaction to another . That is what sets everyone free.

  • Beginagain

    As the person who was dumped but held on- it may have seemed like a horrible relationship to you, but what if your relationship was something this person needed as this time in their life- I was in a depression and not acting like myself and my spouse left when I desperately needed to feel loved and accepted. He replaced me with someone who is similar to me but without all the baggage, which really hurt my self-esteem.
    As the woman- I am the one who is holding on to hate and pain and fear far longer then he is. He wants to be happy again and so he is, but at what expense? What is the effect on the person being dumped? You may be ok with leaving because you are not “in love” anymore, but what if they need you more than you know- what if they are in a tough place and abandonment will cause them more pain then you yourself are in? Seems very selfish to me…and he told me he was being selfish and he did go to the other side of the fence and everything I thought was real and good and loving to me hurt me to the deepest part of my heart because he didn’t communicate how he was feeling in the relationship. That’s not my fault, but I’m the one left with a bleeding heart and broken dreams and memories that I believed in. What about the people you left? What are they going through because of the broken relationship now?

  • arcMuncher

    Hello friend – the SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME!! I had been diagnosed with depression for many years, and my husband left our marriage as a result. Said he was “not in love” anymore as well, and had another woman that he STILL denies having, but I stopped asking many months ago. We have just finalized our divorce in May. It took me over a year and a half for the about 98% of the pain and despair to go away, and now I’m working on gaining my strength and life back. I say 98% because for some reason I had a horrible dream last night that included me seeing my ex sleep with his mistress, which is weird because I don’t even think about that daily anymore. But maybe I was meant to have the dream, to help you with my words of experience 🙂

    The Dumper wilI feel pain, but they have had longer to gain the strength to move on, therefore they will always be stronger than us in the beginning. It’s like they are pretty much over most of the pain ONCE they drop the bomb on us, and at that time we are JUST STARTING to feel the pain. I have since gotten in a relationship too early with another man(a divorcee) who loves me but is imbalanced as well. I am attracting the same type of man, and I don’t want this to happen to me again. So we as Dumpee’s have to grow strength in order to move on. But then when we become the one that has to be the Dumper, that is hard too because we have to be like our Ex’s and break someone else’s heart. 🙁 Luckily this article has many good points that will help me in my move.

    My ex told me he “never wanted this divorce” in the end, but he still went through with it and has his little mistress to comfort him. He wanted it. Anyone who forces someone to divorce like he did to me, though I practically begged him to wait until I gained my strength back, WANTS the divorce. His anger towards me empowered him to go through it. Didn’t care that this was hurting our little 6 year old. So sad.

    Well stay strong in the fight my friend. God will heal, if you open your heart to him. God Bless! <3

  • Taylor Downing

    Thank you for posting this. I realized this evening I may end things with a guy I have been seeing for two months. I feel as though things are very one-sided. In a relationship, I feel as though the woman should feel cherished, protected and secure. Her man should be proud to be with her and vice versa. I didn’t take a break from dating for three years and to get myself right with GOD to be in a relationship where I don’t feel appreciated. Thank you for this article.

  • guest

    I have read many articles, forums on this topic, so far this was one of the best, so clever! I have decided to end up my 5year relationship, I moved out 2months ago, but we still were getting back together and breaking up again. In these days I have realized some things, I have realized why our relationship didn’t work. I would like to share my letter with you, because I know what does it feel to be in doubt to make a mistake. I think this could be helpful for you, to find your reasoning:

    I have realized many things, and I have realized why we had so many conflicts and what poisoned our relationship.

    To be able to have a healthy relationship you have to be certain about some things, such as: what do you want from life, what are your goals and so you know what can you offer to the relationship and the most important you have to know who you are. And I had no idea about any of these things. That must be the main reason of my uncertainty. How can you know what to do if you don’t have a goal in your life, if you don’t know who you are.

    If you remember there were moments that I was telling you that I am loosing my identity and I don’t even know who I am.

    Maybe that’s why I care so much about things and get annoyed, because I don’t have a goal, I don’t have my priorities structured so I don’t know about what should I care and about what I shouldn’t. So I just cared about everything and made this life so difficult for us…

    In this seminar we also did some meditation, it was just some intense breathing, but it brought so much peace, so much happiness, some kind of plenitude. I will practice meditation, you should also practice it. It will help you so much, it will freshen your mind and very quickly you should realize that you don’t need any smoking. You will achieve your inner peace, anger will go away, you will find your happiness.

    There is so much to work on to discover ourselves. First of all we have to cope with our lives to be able to build a healthy relationship. Not we, but at least me. I know you might not agree with these things, and that’s ok. You do not must to understand how I feel.

    Honestly, I really want to find happiness, to feel it, to love myself, the world, so I can and have to offer this to my second half. Somehow in this relationship I am not able to do that, of course I was very happy with you and everything was great, but so many times I couldn’t find an inner peace, I have cried too many times, was angry, scared too many times. I don’t want that. I have to let it go. It is for a good. You had so many problems with me, this brought you to unstable situation also. You have to let it go. You have to find your inner happiness and peace and then love will come.

    And yes, I don’t express myself, I have difficulties to express myself, I also think it is because of my uncertainty of who I am, what are my goals, what do I want from life. And I went to a relationship without knowing these things, that’s why I was more sensitive, that’s why I was fragile. I have to build myself, build a personality, so I can express myself, so I can make things clear in my mind, so I can perform in a relationship.

    But I know, you are an amazing person, I am behind you, you are so certain about things, about your goals what do you want from life. And since I haven’t developed these things, I was living your life, life according you. That’s not good. I can;t live somebody else’s life. I have to work on myself, develop myself, become a stable human being.

    You will do great in (name of the country), all ways are opened there for you. You will make a movie, your music will be respected, you will achieve your goals, you will fulfill yourself. But these are your goals,, not mine. You are further than me, I haven’t developed my goals yet. I am not ready. And I don’t want to live your life. Because as long as I will be living your life and uncertain about mine nothing will change in our relationship. I will be still sensitive and fragile, you will be still angry and rude. So we both will be unhappy.

    You are the greatest person I have met in my life, you will always be in my heart. I am grateful for what we have experienced together. And I would love to stay in touch with you, so we can support and help each other growth. You have me. I am here for you.

  • Brandy Mundy

    Today I have been broken up with my ex for a week now. Do I regret it? No because I believe that he and I both loved each other but our thoughts and personalities were so different we just didn’t work. Two years of bickering back and forth and me realizing this relationship is not for me is tough because I loved him dearly but I couldn’t commit fully to him and I hated burying all my feelings. Any way I also have been feeling the need for comfort for me but it’s difficult showing myself love especially when I want to love someone one day give them my best. I just know I need to work on my self now but it is hard to do.

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