My previous post talked about the reasons to make a breakup plan. This one will focus on what to include in one. Breakup plans are all about leaving relationships in a way that is kind, considerate and leaves everyone’s dignity intact. Working out how to design your own plan that works for the individuals that you are is central to knowing how to initiate, receive and work your way through a breakup. So, you’ve decided to plan your breakup, what do you want to include?
1) The how, when and where of the breakup.
If someone wants to breakup, in what circumstances would you both want to have that conversation. Be specific: Do you want to be at home or out at a coffee shop? Do you mind where it is if it is in private? How would you feel about it being done my phone call, text, Skype call or letter? If you are in a LDR, how might that affect the communication method?
2) Agreeing communication methods and breaks.
After someone has raised the idea of breaking up or taking a break from contact with each other, how do you want to handle communication? Do you usually like a total break? If so, for how long? Will you meet up in or at the end of that time to have a conversation? If you don’t want to stop communication, do you want to limit it to mediums? Email, phone, text, Skype, face to face meetings? Do you want to place limits on how much contact you are in?
3) Managing social media.
Dealing with social media From Facebook to FetLife, our social media presence tracks relationship status and connections between people. For some people this may not mean removing a relationship from your status – but rather unfollowing someone so they are less prominent on social media feeds for a while. For others, it may mean publicly declaring that a relationship has ended. When you’re in the early stages of a relationship working out whether you even want to declare your relationship on Facebook, FetLife or even OkCupid is a great idea. If you’ve already done those things, then working out how to dissolve those statuses if your relationship ends is important. Some people are really hurt by their partner unceremoniously de-coupling them on Facebook – especially when that pesky notification gets lots of reactions from friends and family that haven’t heard first hand yet. Others would never have put it online in the first place and think it’s not a big deal. If you have different opinions on this, it’s important that figure out what your strategy will be – often the person who is more sensitive about social media will be assigned the duty of calling the relationship off online.
4) Shared friendship groups and communities.
In many relationships, you end up sharing friends and communities with partners. If you break up, you are going to have to think about how to manage your engagement with those communities. If you’re going to want a break from contact its best to have an overall agreement about how you’ll split up social activity – perhaps based on who was in a group before you got together, or maybe based on who is more into an activity. When couples (or triads or quads) breakup these conversations are usually more details since they often involve specific plans (birthday parties, kink events, book readings, parties etc.). Agreeing some guidelines can make those conversations less fraught.
The last thing on the list is working out whether you will want to make time to reconnect after the breakup has happened. Some people find that after a long period of no contact it can be healing to meet up again and decide whether you want a friendship with a former partner. Others find the very idea of meeting up again abhorrent or simply pointless. Working out what your expectations are after a split can help you both to be on the same page and understand what that page is.
In any relationship you might want to consider these things, but cohabiting relationship have a variety of other considerations – and that will be the focus of the next article.