How to End a Long-Distance Relationship

Long distance relationships are hard – from the emotional need that comes with being far from each other, to the lack of face-to-face communication. You may find that the holiday seasons are the worst.

Deciding to break up after dating long distance is not easy. It takes a lot of energy to decide that something is not working for you and it needs fixing. Kudos for taking the first step.

The second challenge – and the hardest of all – is effectively communicating this to your loved one in a way that protects their dignity and leaves them at peace. Break-ups are usually messy because the decision to break up is often unilateral.

It is easy to slide back into an unhappy relationship when you know that your partner is still willing. So it’s important to be sure that this is what you want. It is even recommended that you do a well-argued and written down pros-cons list to guide and defend your position.

With a desire to learn the best way to approach this tough topic, I sought the opinion of many individuals who have either broken up with a long-distance partner or have been on the receiving end of a break-up. Below is a compilation of how to approach the topic, as well as pointers on what to expect:

Timing is very important

The best position when negotiating a break up is that of your partner. Putting yourself in their shoes helps you navigate the process in a kind and dignifying way. That protects their self-esteem and gives them a fair fighting chance.

Take note of their schedule. Check for major events like an exam, a presentation, a job pitch or even a job interview. It tells you that giving them sad news may prevent them from effectively participating in tasks that will require confidence and charisma. Steer away from setting a break-up before a major holiday, a birthday, or an activity requiring full concentration.

If a break-up has to happen, then effectively schedule a couple of days on their calendar just for that. It is important to avoid awkward situations such as having someone you love travel or fly a long distance only to have their heart broken.

The Medium

Nobody wants to receive bad news via text. In the modern world especially, ghosting is a very effective way of telling a person that you are no longer interested in their company. Ghosting is however not kind. It’s terribly immature and downright disrespectful.

The closest you can get to a decent face-to-face break-up is a phone call. With FaceTime, WeChat, Viber, Skype, Google Duo, and other video calling apps readily available, you can have this hard conversation face-to-face decently, and with respect.

If you are planning a break-up, schedule a call with your partner and talk to them like you would to a friend. Regardless of the differences at present, remember that this is someone you considered a lover at one point.

The Prelude

Give your partner a heads up that you have something “not-so-good” to say to them later. Ask them to tell you when they will be available. Take into consideration their plans and schedules especially if you are in different time zones. Nobody wants to have to wake up to heartbreak.

Tell them that you would like a Skype or video call and give them choices, so they get to pick when and how. This process ensures a win-win encounter.

The Talk

Talk to your partner like a friend. Avoid the instinct to jump straight to the breakup. While the tension under currents may still be strong in the air, actively seek to create a peaceful atmosphere. Approach the topic with concern and empathy. Explain your position without attacking your partner. Give time for them to process.

At this point, you should expect tears, a little yelling may also occur – and this is allowed. As much as possible, seek to hear them out. Validate them while resisting the urge to abort the mission. Allow your partner and you to go through the motions of shock, sadness, anger, and acceptance.

When it is over, appreciate the time you spent with them and affirm them.

The aftermath

It is normal to feel the urge to go back. Don’t. Allow yourself to grieve. After all, you have lost a part of yourself as well. Shed a few tears – drink if you need to – but after all is said and done, rise, stand up and move forward.

Better days are yet to come!