“So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu!”: Healthy Endings

“I’ve had a lovely time living with my roommate, but it’s time for me to move out. Is it possible to stay friends but tell her I’m ready for my own space?”

“I’m done with her. We’re supposed to be best friends but over and over again she ignores my calls and avoids my texts, until it’s convenient for her. I’m not angry,” said Louisa. “I’m just done being treated that way. I’ve blocked her calls and stopped responding to her texts.”

“I finally decided to quit and let my boss have it! Everything I’ve been storing up over the past ten years is going to come out. She deserves to know exactly what I think about her.”

“I’m great at breakups,” Joseph bragged. “I’m still friends with all of my exes.” “Really?” I asked. “Tell me about the end of your last relationship.” “Well, we officially broke up last summer. But we talk almost everyday and see each other whenever we can.”

Turns out endings is a skill. Some people store up all their thoughts and feelings over time and, in the end, let all of it out. Other people avoid confrontation at all costs and, instead of addressing a challenging situation, choose to end a relationship. People like Joseph will often stretch out an ending indefinitely, waiting for the other person to end it. Endings can bring uncertainties (but what will the other person think?), and remind us of difficult past goodbyes.

So what does a healthy ending include? Take inventory of the relationship and notice any regrets or unfinished business. Review moments you’re grateful for and take stock of how this situation has benefited you. Decide how you’d like to define the relationship moving forward. Coffee once a week? Facebook friends? No further contact? Then set aside time to talk with everyone involved. Be clear, succinct and honest, but not too blunt. Be prepared for a wide variety of reactions (anger, avoidance, denial, defensive, surprise, sadness). Know where you’re willing to compromise, and what you hope for overall.