Ending a relationship is incredibly difficult, both when you’re the initiator or are on the receiving end. As part of the “Today” show’s special Relationships series, “Today” contributor Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist at New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, offered some tips on how to deal with both sides of a break-up.
How to break the news
It's horrible to break up with someone; in a sense, you are rejecting them. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind:
Tip 1: Don't give false hopeThis is such a vulnerable moment. If you give any hint to the person that there is some chance it could work out, it will never work. It will never end. And the worst part is none of you will move on. And you can't, because in the back of your mind, you are constantly thinking, “This could work out - I just have to stay the course.” The most important thing if you break up (or are rejected) is to move on.
Tip 2: Be gentle, but firmBe clear. Don’t hint at what you want to do. It gives a mixed message. We all hint and we hint because we've been in their shoes and it's painful to be rejected. But hinting is terrible. Hinting gives false hope. Also, there is no reason to use the break-up as an opportunity to tell the person exactly what is wrong with him or her. It's best to be to-the-point, respectful and diplomatic.
Tip 3: Use your instinctsWomen, in particular, fear being alone, rejected or a failure. But that doesn't mean you should stay in a relationship if it's with the wrong person. Listen to your inner voice - if that voice is saying to you that this person is not for you, it's probably time to let go. Go with your gut.
Tip 4: Can we really be friends?If you really are on the same page – both of you agree that it’s time to move one – then chances are that you can remain pals. Most of the time, though, it doesn't work. One person still has sexual and romantic feelings, leading to fantasies that the relationship could go back to the way it was.
How to deal with rejection
It's very difficult to be rejected, especially when you hear that overused, meaningless phrase, "It's not you, it's me!" Here are some ways to keep a healthy perspective:
Tip 1: There are many fish in the seaIt’s very tempting to believe that he or she is the “only one.” It’s just not true! This kind of thinking can lead otherwise sensible women and men into the mindset that they are never going to find someone and they're going to be alone. This is both counterproductive and self-fulfilling. Much better to tell yourself the truth – that there are plenty of other people out there who would make a great match. You’ll be much more attractive because of it.
Tip 2: Not having a relationship is better than a bad relationshipMany people find it impossible to think of a time in life without a relationship – and are often willing to endure a bad one to avoid being alone. If you are one of those people who are terrified of being on your own, chances are that it’s not a relationship you need, it’s therapy. The first thing you need to do in any relationship is love yourself first - everything else will follow.
Tip 3: Lean on your friendsIt’s very important and helpful to have your friends around to help you get through a break-up. And they want to help! Women, in particular, can be very supportive, using their verbal and analytical skills to talk things through. And though men often find it harder to talk about such matters, they should. It will make them feel much better.
Tip 4: Watch for the reboundRemember that during a break-up or rejection you are at your most vulnerable. Try to bear in mind that your feelings and your emotions could lead you into situation you may regret. Steer clear of the rebound!
Dr. Gail Saltz, a regular contributor to "Today," is a psychiatrist with New York Presbyterian Hospital. For more information, you can visit her Web site, .