Didn’t see it coming
Sushant and Priyal were in a committed relationship for five years. There was an unsaid understanding that they were in it for the long time or at least, so Sushant thought. Priyal, on the other hand, found Sushant’s jealous and controlling side very suffocating. When a job offer presented the opportunity to relocate to a new city, Priyal thought it best to begin this chapter of her life with a clean slate and decided to end the relationship. Despite the frequent fights and arguments, Sushant didn’t see the breakup coming.
When Priyal finally spilled the beans, she found herself caught in the middle of a classic ugly breakup. From the initial dramatic cycle of tears, yelling, begging and more tears to being tagged in hurtful posts on social media, a barrage of drunken calls and texts, slut-shaming and even stalking, she spent a year dealing with every classic symptom of an ugly breakup. The mess dampened the experience of starting afresh in a new job and a new city and left her too emotionally drained out to consider getting into another relationship or even date.
Have you or your friends been in a similar situation? Ever wondered what you could have done differently? Let’s find out.
How to prevent an ugly breakup?
As they say, prevention is better than cure. So, the best way to navigate the mess of a breakup is to prevent things from taking an ugly turn. Sure, there is bound to be hurt, pain and anger on both sides, but letting your partner down gently can definitely soften the blow. If you’re the one pulling the plug on a relationship, here are a few tips to make the process as graceful and dignified as possible:
- Do it in person: Unless absolutely unavoidable – say in case of a long-distance relationship or if you suspect your partner to turn violent or abusive – you must always break up in person. Yes, it is going to be hard and unpleasant, but you’ve got to give your partner the courtesy of a face-to-face conversation one last time.
- Don’t do it in public: If the relationship doesn’t have any red flags that leave you worried for your safety, it’s best to avoid breaking up in a public place. A public setting limits the emotions you can express. And it is the things left unsaid that later come out in the ugliest ways possible. Choose somewhere more private to have the breakup conversation. If you don’t want to or can’t do it at your place or theirs, maybe meet up at a mutual friend’s place or take a walk in a park without too many people around.
- Keep emotions in check: Even if you’re the one breaking up, the end of a relationship can bring up a lot of uncomfortable and unsettling emotions. Don’t let your emotions overcome you, so keep your emotions in check. Don’t launch a tirade of accusations and blame, and definitely do not create a scene. At the same time, allow your partner to express themselves – whether it is anger or hurt, hear them out and don’t take their words personally.
- You can’t make them feel better: Seeing the person you once loved break down and seethe in the pain of their heart being ripped apart cannot be easy. But remember that there is nothing you can do or say to make them feel better. Also, remember that their emotions are not a reason good enough to rethink your decision. Just because they’re hurting and telling you how much they’re going to miss you is not reason enough to give it another shot. If you go down that road, you’ll find yourself entrapped in the toxic on-again-off-again cycle. So, don’t.
- Do not engage sexually: The emotions are running high, they’re crying, you’re crying, you’re both reminiscing how good things used to be, and before you know it, you may end up in the thick of hot, passionate sex. While this may bring you temporary relief, it’s only going to leave you both confused afterwards. Did you break up or did you get back together within 5 minutes of breaking up? Where do you go from here? We’ll tell you: into an uncontrollable spiral of an ugly breakup. So, make sure that you’re mindful of your boundaries at all times and don’t overstep them.
- Follow the no-contact rule: It’s 5 am and you’ve spent yet another sleepless night thinking about and perhaps pining for your ex. You miss them. It’s lonely and depressing. So, you pick up the phone and shoot that, ‘You up?’ text. They respond within seconds, and before you know you’re talking, texting, sleeping together – all over again. Save yourself and your ex from this messy entanglement by rigorously following the no-contact rule until you’re well and truly over them and they, you.
How to deal with an ugly breakup?
Even if you do everything right, there is no guarantee that your partner will take kindly to the breakup. If they feel blindsided by your decision to end the relationship or don’t respond well to rejection, things could get messy. From inundating you with pleas to take them back to threats, stalking, abuse and harassment, scorned exes are known to overstep the bounds of acceptable post-breakup behaviour. Depending on what you’re dealing with, here’s how you can handle the aftermath of an ugly breakup:
- Identify what their behaviour amounts to
Don’t let your feelings for your ex blind you to the reality of their behaviour. If they show up outside your home at 2 am wanting ‘to talk’, it’s not a testament to their undying love for you but a clear violation of boundaries and your personal space. Likewise, if your ex is just making requests to get you to reconsider your decision and give the relationship another try, while unsettling, it’s not necessarily harassment that calls for involving the authorities or getting a restraining order against them.
- Tell them their behaviour is not welcome
Whether you’re being harassed or your ex’s constant overtures to win you over again make you uncomfortable, the first step for dealing with the situation is to tell them that you don’t appreciate their behaviour. Be clear, unambiguous and firm – without being rude – in reiterating that you’ve made up your mind and there is no turning back now. Ask them to respect your decision and take a step back.
- Avoid your ex and cut them out
If a clear communication about their advances being unwelcome doesn’t drive the message home, you have to actively avoid them and gradually cut them out from your life. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Don’t answer their calls or respond to their texts
- If they still don’t back off, block their numbers, emails and social media handles
- Remove yourself from the circle of common friends
- Change your routine, so you can minimise ‘accidental’ run-ins with your ex
- Confide in your family and friends
Dealing with a breakup is hard enough as it is. Your ex’s constant overtures and attempts to get through to you won’t make things any easier. It’s crucial that you have a support system during this time. If your ex is harassing you and causing your emotional distress, confide in your family and friends sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until the situation escalates. Knowing that your loved ones have your back can help you deal with this mess better. Besides, they can check in on you regularly to make sure you’re doing okay and the harassment or pestering hasn’t escalated.
- Seek help from the authorities
If your ex’s behaviour spirals out of control and the harassment escalates to threats of violence, physical harm or leaking your private, intimate photos over the internet, approach the authorities without any delay. It’s best to first approach a lawyer who can guide you on the best course of action, given your circumstances.
For instance, if your ex is threatening to leak your nudes, a lawyer can get an injunction from a civil court, which can serve as a deterrent. If this doesn’t stop them, you can bring a case against them under Section 66E of the Information Technology Act, 2000 – Violation of Privacy and take legal action.
Likewise, if you fear for your safety, you can approach the nearest police station and get an FIR registered. This will amount to a criminal case being registered against them and may result in their arrest.
Being harassed by the person you were once in love with is harrowing. But you don’t have to be scared. Once you’ve made up your mind about moving on, stand your ground and seek the necessary help. You will tide over this tumultuous time.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.
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Arushi Chaudhary is a freelance journalist and writer with 5 years of experience in print publications such as the Pune Mirror and Hindustan Times, and has spent close to a decade writing for digital platforms and print publications – The Tribune, BR International magazine, Make My Trip, Killer Features, The Money Times, and Home Review, to name a few. Of the many things she's written about over the years, exploring the space of love and relationships through the prism of psychology excites her the most. Writing is her first and forever love. You can find her on Twitter here.
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