8 Tips For Pulling The Plug On Your Relationship

8 Tips For Pulling The Plug On Your Relationship

A few people have written to me after my pieces on getting through break ups and fighting the “good on paper” dilemma. Essentially, all the emails came down to “That’s great, but HOW do I do it?”

So you have poor Scotty Doesn’t Know going along with you to dinners, happy hours, and maybe even Friendsgiving this weekend. The will to break up with them is there, but the way is obfuscated.

What to do? Just slip out the back, Jack? Make a new plan, Stan? Hop on the bus, Gus?

All great calls by Paul Simon, but perhaps a little oversimplified. Regardless, take a second now and watch this video: (I have given you the Muppet version no less because it’s Friday and you deserve it)

Okay, feeling a little better? Or at least temporarily happily distracted? Let’s get down to business.

1. Put yourself in their shoes.

Scotty sure spent a lot of time being jerked around by Fiona when he could have been guiltlessly whatever-the-2004-version- of-Skype cybering Mieke. If someone wasn’t feeling you, would you want to be giving them a good chunk of your time, feelings, and effort?

I hope not.

I want you to really try to feel into this scenario. When you imagine the shoe on the other foot, it’s kind of physically uncomfortable, no? You’d like it to stop so you can get on with the rest of your day, right? Right.

So don’t fucking do it to someone else.

2. “It’s not you; it’s me.”

Actually, it’s neither. Think about Tiramisu. Some people love it, some people hate it, some people take or leave it. Nothing wrong with either Tiramisu or your palette. We are all just attuned to different things on different levels and ways. It’s ok. Give yourself a break. Do you feel guilty for not loving Tiramisu? Probably not. Do you love Tiramisu and get stoked when you can have someone’s untouched leftovers? Devouring it with glee as you ponder the relative impossibility of how someone COULD NOT EFFING LOVE THIS DESSERT?

That’s how someone will feel about your soon-to-be-ex. You are not failing to recognize something which therefore makes you a heartless idiot—we all just have different palettes.

Keep this in mind when you deliver the news.

3. Do this before you do something stupid.

Breaking up is intimidating. Sometimes our ego seeks an easier way out by creating a blame or “ill” that everything can be traced back to. This translates as fight-picking.

Wow, what a great way to make yourself and someone you care about even more miserable and stressed out. Don’t create more negative energy that will just come back and erode you more. The other easy way out is escapism. avoidance, cheating.

Again, refer back to number one. Wouldn’t you rather just be released if you were on the other side? I am sure that’s yes.

We’ve established some good mindset baselines, let’s look at some tactics.

4. Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

I don’t think what you are about to encounter will be as trying as the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

Yet, Sunday is the perfect break up day.

You have time, and the distraction of the work week looming.

During the week, your time is constrained and you can end up dragging in the office the next day fielding incessant texts. If they want to talk again, it throws a wrench in your weekday routine— which you definitely don’t need.

Friday and Saturday are risks. You may run into them immediately during the weekend on account of mutual friends, and the booze may also bring some poor decisions.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday it is.

5. Radio for back up.

Tell someone your plan: first for support, and second for accountability.

Be judicious here. Pick ONE person. Ladies, this is not like going to the bathroom at the bar where you need your entire crew. Do NOT ask mutual friends. If this means you have to reach out to an out-of-state pal or your Nana, so be it. You cannot risk your spilling breakup beans. Pick someone who is also going to call you out if your start to back down. Firm, with love. (Nana sounds even better now, doesn’t she?)

6. Do it at their place.

Have you ever been driving down a country road and a large piece of livestock just wants to chill in your path, unmoving and giving zero fucks about what you may need?

This has the potential to be your recent ex, on your couch, crying. It’s much easier to “slip out the back Jack” at someone else’s place.

And in public is just cruel.

7. Have something to do after.

This will give you a hard stop. Book a massage, have a friend who will (unwaveringly) meet you for a beer, a phone call with Nana—have something scheduled to be sure you do not linger more than a couple hours.I am not saying this to come across as selfish, but…two things are at play here:

1. Self-care— this will be hard on you as well, and you need your support after the deed is done. 2. If you don’t have a game clock running, you WILL be there FOREVER. As time goes on, productive conversation will lessen and emotions will rise— the result of this equation is shitty feelings and more trauma to react off of.

Do not tell your recent ex why you have to go, but be firm when it is time to go.

8. Stay rooted, stay firm.

You know this person quite well. You know yourself quite well.

There’s a scene in The Exorcist where Father Karras asks if he can talk to Reagan. The Demon replies that Regan is not there, only Demon here, #sorrynotsorry.

That’s what may happen in the throes of your break up. Horrible, manipulative things may be said. Keep in mind that they likely stem from trying to get some form of perceived control back. Your recent ex is like a poor animal who has just stepped into a hunting trap. Surprised, betrayed, in a lot of pain, and acting irrational. If the epithets being hurled are really start hitting home , remind yourself of number two on this list. (And make your way to GTFO).

Stay firm in your decision to end the relationships and trust the intuition that led you to it. Remember, intuition looks out for you and nobody knows you better that you know yourself. Your ex may vow to change, or make other wild promises in attempt to get you to change your mind. Keep in mind that they are playing injured and not at all themselves right now. Secondly, adults rarely do change and we all deserve to be with someone who wants us as we are.

You can revisit your discussions again. By the end of the film, Regan was exorcised of the Demon (spoiler alert). But it did take time, (over two hours, so apply that #IRL time and it’s pretty significant).

P.S. I really recommend this film informing break ups. Father Karras stays straight smooth, unruffled and sticks to his plan. (I realize this is an odd break up movie suggestion).

It is best for both of you to wait. When you leave, make a promise to yourself to not visit any communication until you’re feeling back to baseline (and feel the recent ex is too). Enroll your accountability partner from number five to help.

It won’t be easy, but by keeping your emotions in check, acknowledging what is “real” and honoring your truth you will both (though maybe through some fire) end up in a better place.

Image via Unsplash

Email this to a friend


Caroline Gould is a personal branding expert and career consultant based in Washington, D.C. Her signature program is called Self Discovery School. She also writes a weekly advice column on Post Grad Problems. Submit your question or find out more on

14 Comments You must log in to comment, or create an account
Show Comments

For More Photos and Content

Latest podcasts

Download Our App

Take PGP with you. Get

New Stories

Load More