Dear Page, thank you for reposting the article on coming up with breakup plans well before you need one. I’m glad your Patreon supporter suggested it. The advice is good and solid. I did notice one thing that was missing from the article, however, and that’s why I’m writing today. What if they don’t follow the breakup plan? You’ve been on the record that you’ve gone through a lot of breakups since you date a lot. I’m sure you’ve had that happen to you — you discuss breaking up in theory with someone and come up with a plan, and then when push comes to shove, they do something completely different. Any insights? I’m reeling from a situation like that and could appreciate some input.
Thanks for the letter! And it’s a good question. I alluded to one piece of this in my original article, just as far as general resistance to having the breakup talk in the first place. I was clear that you can’t have a breakup talk with someone who doesn’t want to have one.
By the same token, you can draw up hypothetical breakup plans with other people all day, but if they get swept away in the intense negative feelings of rejection — and/or are simply someone who doesn’t have much self-awareness and so isn’t really equipped to accurately guess how they’ll feel later (more common that you would suspect)… well… it might not be as smooth as you’d hoped.
I’ve found a high correlation between these rocky breakups and people who won’t have the breakup talk in the first place. But you’re quite correct — I’ve been in a scenario where the breakup didn’t go to plan, even when there was one.
And to be fair, even with a plan, breakups aren’t usually easy per se. Just coming to a consensus of how it should be done beforehand doesn’t take magically take away any feelings of pain, disappointment, and rejection (on one or both sides). It would be nice if life were that simple. But no.
The Plan Exists to Help Assure You That You Did Okay
But here’s the thing: A breakup plan doesn’t exist to ensure that the other person will take the breakup well (that’s something you can’t control and can arguably only influence somewhat with a good plan).
And it doesn’t exist to make it so it’s a painless process for you either.
Partings are inflection points. And those times can be painful. Yes, even if you’re doing what you’re “supposed” to do. Even if it’s the right call. Even if a breakup is delivered in a civil way — in the recipient’s preferred form.
At the end of the day, I’ve found having a breakup plan assures me that if I have to break up with someone that no matter how they react to it, I’ll know that I did an okay job delivering the bad news. It helps me have a framework what a delivery that isn’t cruel looks like for this individual.
It doesn’t mean that the news itself won’t strike them as cruel.
And that means that if they don’t follow the breakup plan, if they’re hurling insults and getting upset and accusing me of breaking the news “the wrong way” (yes, even if it’s how they agreed they wanted to know if and when the day ever came), I can know that’s just them displacing emotional frustration and the pain of rejection.
I’ll know that I did okay, no matter what they say in the moment out of pain or frustration.
And to be frank, if someone is lashing out in a hardcore way and deviating completely from the breakup plan, that’ll be extra validation that we’re not right for one another. So I’ll walk away from that knowing that: 1) I did okay 2) I was right to end things.
No matter what the other person says.
I can’t ask any more from the universe than that.