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Ask Ogonna: Breaking up is hard to do

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Have a problem with love or life in general? Send Ogonna your questions at askogonna@gmail.com and get them answered here in her column. You can also tweet her at @askogonna


Reader: I know I need to break up with my boyfriend but don’t know how. I still care about him a lot and have a bunch of feelings for him, but our relationship is not what it used to be and it seems like nothing we’ve addressed is getting better. I don’t want to put my energy in this anymore if I’m not happy, but I don’t know how or if I should even let it go.

Ogonna: They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. By “they” I mean Alfred Tennyson and those who think this quote was from Shakespeare. To me, I think there might be a lot to be gained from breakups. In fact, I think that sometimes, letting go is the best thing you can do for the people we love.

Forget what you’ve seen on the big screen. Breakups are not usually the spur of the moment, screaming, yelling and crying drama that Hollywood films would have us believe. Not to say some breakups don’t involve screaming, yelling, crying and drama, but I’m focusing on the “spur of the moment” aspect. Usually, if the decision to break up isn’t a mutual one where both sides could see the ties coming undone, there is one party who has probably thought of breaking up a while beforehand.

If you’ve been feeling like you can’t give your significant other the same devotion, attention, care and support as he or she has been giving you, then something needs to change. Yes, those in relationships will and should question the status from time to time, having a little check in to make sure they are getting what they want out of the relationship. But if you’ve reached a point where you’re not seeing an improvement in these issues, or you are neither receiving nor reciprocating the attention, support, care or energy you used at the start, these could be blaring warning signs to end it.

But, you still have feelings and care about your romantic partner very much. So how do you navigate those dynamics? It’s ideal to think that a breakup would be easier with no feelings, but reality has proven time and time again that most of those feelings won’t go away, even if you choose to break up. In this case, you have to put facts before feelings. You can still care about and be in love with another person, but that doesn’t mean that person is right for you at the time. A relationship is more than just feelings — it’s a mutual support system that is fun and lively and supportive in difficult times. If you know that your relationship is toxic, or you no longer have the desire to put forth the energy to commit, you have to do what will be better for the both of you in the long run.

So how does one go about breaking up with another person? There is no easy way to do this and definitely no easy way to advise another person on how to do this. We all are different and will take things in different ways. There is a universal understanding that people should not break up by way of a text message and social media. That is simply cruel. Take into account your significant other’s emotional stability and how that person reacts to more serious information, sit them down and talk it out. Let your significant other know how much you care about them, tell them why you can’t be in a relationship at the moment and, above everything, be honest.

Breaking up is hard to do, but honesty is key. What’s the point of putting both you and your significant other through heartbreak if you’re not even going to confront the reality of the situation? It’s better for both sides to be upfront in as gentle of a way as possible during this serious talk. That way there is no confusion about what happened or why. And if anything, there might be some lessons learned for future relationships.

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