05/28/2013 04:52 pm ET Updated Jul 28, 2013

Be Fearless: Break Up With Dignity

One of the most difficult aspects of a relationship is ending it. Way too often, people stay stuck in unfulfilling relationships and do it because they're afraid to leave. They're fearful. There's a comfort level that couples develop even though it might not be the healthiest relationship. In other words, people get comfortable being uncomfortable. They know the person's quirks, bad habits, and negative traits, yet they stay. They stay because they don't want to hurt the person by breaking up, and they fear what they face as a single person. As the saying goes, "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know." Fear of the unknown renders them hostage.

There's no easy way to end a relationship. Inherent in any breakup is that someone gets hurt. Here are ways to maintain dignity and respect, and lessen the blow:

  • For starters, don't make the mistake that so many people do and nurture a relationship on the side and explore options just because they're afraid to be alone. (Once you are 100 percent single, then you can consider seeing others).
  • When breaking the bad news, plan to meet him or her in person. Relying on email or telephone might seem easier for you, but not for your soon-to-be ex. Anything short of face-to-face will seem cowardly to him or her.
  • Meet in a private place, not a public setting where the person could likely feel openly embarrassed by the news.
  • Take responsibility and be honest. Avoid the cliché "it's not you, it's me" or any other generic explanations, and be sure to provide a reason so that the other person can better move on.
  • No matter how bad the relationship might be, avoid insults. To demonize the person will only invite retaliation and perpetuate problems. Remember, you dated the person -- so they can't be that bad, right? That said, you both might benefit from mentioning a few things you do like about the person.
  • Don't try to cushion things by saying "But we can still be friends." A statement like that is probably more about assuaging your guilt than actually wanting to be friends, and might provide false hope.
  • Finally, don't jump right back into the dating world. Way too often, people get into a new relationship because they're afraid to be single. Don't be that person. Instead, take some time, reflect on the past relationship, and learn a little something about yourself and the type of person you prefer.

For more tips on how to be fearless in love, dating, and relationships check out my book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.

For more by Jonathan Alpert, click here.

For more on relationships, click here.

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