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Breakups suck, but they’re a part of life. Relationships only work when both people are happy in them. Here are some tips for dealing with breakups.

What’s the best way to breakup with someone?

Breaking up with someone can be as hard as being dumped yourself. You may be worried about hurting them, or you may feel sad about the breakup even though you know it’s the right thing to do.

Relationships only work when both people want to be in them, and staying in a bad relationship that you don’t want to be in isn’t healthy for either of you. It’s not fair to your boyfriend or girlfriend to keep a relationship going when you’re not feeling it, and it’s only going to hurt more the longer you wait to end it. So it’s better to be honest as soon as possible about wanting to break up, even if it’s really hard.

There are no magic words you can say to make breaking up easy or painless. But you can make breaking up suck less by being straightforward and honest about your feelings (while still trying to be as kind as possible). If you're not sure what to say, try writing down your feelings and the reasons you want to break up. You can also get advice from your friends or family members.

Sometimes it’s hard to be honest about why you want to break up because you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. You don’t necessarily have to give a reason, but they’ll probably want to know why the relationship is ending — so be prepared for that question. You can say things like, “You’re a really great person, but I don’t think we’re right for each other” or, “I like you a lot, but I don’t feel ready to be in a relationship right now.” You don’t have to go into details, but it’s not a good idea to make something up or lie either.

There are definitely bad ways to break up with someone. Most people think it’s more respectful to do it in person, not over text or social media. Don't ask a friend to deliver the news, because you don’t want to face the person yourself — it’s selfish and not fair to your soon-to-be ex.

Acting rude or distant so they’ll just “get the hint” may seem like an easier way to break up, but it actually makes things harder, confusing, and more painful. Ghosting — when you just stop talking, texting, or hanging out without telling them why — is also an uncool way to end a relationship.

It’s not a great idea to break up with someone but then keep trying to hang out or hook up with them when you’re not interested in being in a relationship. You might miss them and it may be tempting, but it can lead the other person on and make them think there’s hope of getting back together. The best thing to do is be clear that the relationship ended, and give each other some space while you heal.

If you’re worried that breaking up with your boyfriend or girlfriend is unsafe because they might hurt you or themselves, talk with a parent or adult you trust so they can help you stay safe. Read more about leaving an abusive relationship.

My boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with me. How do I deal?

A broken heart can really hurt, but time heals all wounds (no seriously, it does). So how much time do you need to get over it? The answer is different for every person and every breakup.

You probably really cared about your ex and have good memories from your relationship, no matter how bad the breakup was. So do what you need to do — cry, listen to sad music, go for a long walk or run, hang out with your friends, or write in a journal. Whatever works for you. These feelings can be hard to go through, but they’ll get less intense over time. And try not to feel bad about yourself. Just because this relationship didn’t work out doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.

Talking with someone who cares about you and is willing to listen can also help. Friends can be a great source of comfort, and don’t forget about your parents! It may feel kind of awkward to open up to them about it, but they’ve got a lot of experience with relationships and breakups — they’ve probably felt exactly like this before and know how much it hurts. Plus, it’s their job to take care of you when you’re sad, so let them help.

It’s normal to be really mad at your ex after a breakup. But try not to post about them on social media. It can lead to major drama and end up embarrassing you — and once something’s online, it’s there forever. If you’re feeling super angry, vent to your friends and family privately instead. Or do something creative or physical, like playing music or exercising, to help work through those feelings.

Some people try and stay friends with their ex, but it can be really hard and confusing to go from being in a relationship to being friends. It’s also not a great idea to keep hooking up with your ex after you break up. Being "friends with benefits” may seem easier than a total breakup when you really miss someone, but it can make you (or them) feel a lot worse in the long run. It’s okay to take time away from your ex on social media, too. That might mean unfriending or unfollowing them forever, or at least until you feel like you’re over it.

Some people also try to heal by finding another boyfriend or girlfriend as quickly as possible. Crushing on someone else can definitely help you feel better in the moment. But if you still have feelings for your ex, it may impact the new relationship and be unfair to the new person. It’s usually better to wait until you’ve healed from an old relationship before starting a new one.

It’s totally normal and okay to be sad after a breakup. But if you’re so depressed from a breakup that it’s affecting your grades, activities, or family/friend relationships, think about talking with a counselor or therapist. If you need help finding a counselor, you can talk with your parents, doctor, school counselor, or the staff at your nearest Planned Parenthood health center.

What counts as cheating?

People have different opinions about what cheating is. So it's up to you and your boyfriend/girlfriend to decide what cheating means for your relationship. This means you have to talk honestly with them about it, and set limits you both feel comfortable with.

Some ways to tell that something you're doing might count as cheating are:

  • You have to hide or lie about what you're doing.

  • You think your boyfriend or girlfriend would be upset if they found out.

  • You feel guilty about it.

  • You wouldn't your boyfriend or girlfriend to do it.

Betraying your boyfriend or girlfriend’s trust can be really painful and have long-term effects on your relationship. If you’re constantly thinking about cheating or want to cheat, it may be a sign that you don’t want to be in this relationship. And even though breaking up with someone sucks, it’s usually less hurtful than cheating on them behind their back. Cheating on your partner a lot and lying to them about it isn’t respectful — it’s abusive behavior.

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