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Breaking up is hard to do. It’s even harder to do when you and your SO have been involved with one another for quite some time. Every couple has its fair share of hard times but, at some point, we all have to come to terms with when it’s actually time for things to end. You may feel like you and your partner are stuck at a dead end, but I’m here to clue you in on when and how you should finally kiss your on-again, off-again relationship goodbye.

1. Realize when it’s over

A lot of people have a misconception that, despite how toxic their relationships are, they shouldn’t end things with their SOs just because of how long they’ve been together. But regardless of how much time you’ve spent with a person, there has to be a point at which you determine that enough is enough.

“You know it’s time to end a back and forth relationship when nothing changes each time you go back,” says Dr. Carole Lieberman, a media psychiatrist. “For example, if the guy promises he’ll never cheat again, but then he does, it’s time to call it quits,” she says. “Most guys need to sow their wild oats. So, part of him may want to be in a relationship with you, but he can’t resist temptation. Don’t keep going back to him, only to be hurt each time he cheats.”

Just because you’ve spent a few years with someone doesn’t always mean that it’s in your best interest to stay in a relationship that’s no good for you. Just know that the length of your relationship isn’t always the most important thing. There are only so many times that you can allow yourself to be hurt or let down. So, even if your SO makes a million promises that they’ll do better, you have to know when not to take the bait. Know when to wash your hands of the situation.

They may be a little resistant to the breakup, but your mental and emotional well-being is more important than anything and staying in a toxic relationship won’t help that.

Woman And Man Wearing Brown Jackets Standing Near Tree
Vera Arsic / Pexels

2. Pick a decent way to end it

We’re living in a digital age and the geniuses of the world are creating so many “convenient” (but also kind of rude) ways for people to call it quits. Ending relationships is hard but the key to making sure things don’t get even messier with your future ex is to make sure that you choose a respectful way to break things off.

“The proper way to end the relationship is to go on a quiet date, such as a picnic or walk in the park,” says Dr. Lieberman. “Sit down and tell him honestly that, although you really want to be with him, he’s apparently not ready yet to be in a committed relationship because of x, y or z.”

To note, even if there’s a part of you that doesn’t actually want to be with them anymore, remember to be completely honest about your feelings and not sugar coat what you’re doing. We’re not saying you have to be best friends when it’s all over, (because that can be a terrible idea) but breaking up in person is a simple way to avoid making your relationship worse than it already is. 

3. Take some time to cope

By coping, we mean stocking up on Ben and Jerry’s and making sure that new Taylor Swift album you bought is being put to good use. “Once it’s over, you can indulge yourself with tears, romantic comedies and rocky road ice cream until you’re ready to face the world,” Dr. Lieberman says.

You can spend a few days seeking comfort from your friends and family; but, if that’s not enough, you can also visit your school’s clinic to see a counselor. A lot of colleges and universities have staff that specialize in helping students through breakups, so don’t be hesitant to seek professional help. The aftermath of a breakup can be a difficult time for anyone so, ultimately, how you choose to cope is up to you. But we do advise you to keep Drake off of your playlist.

No one ever said breaking up is easy, but sometimes it’s for the best. Understand that, regardless of how long you and your SO have been involved, letting go might be the best thing you both can do when you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall.

Danielle is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in English and minoring in Sociology. You can usually find her dividing her time between being Campus Correspondent of Her Campus UGA, binge-watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix and daydreaming about being one of Beyonce's backup dancers. If you want to know more about Danielle, you can follow her on Instagram (@danielleknecole_) or Twitter (@DanielleKnecole).