Am I a bad person for breaking up with someone?

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There’s a huge myth that the person who does the breaking up somehow gets off easy.

But I’ve been on both sides of the fence before. I’ve been the one who has been dumped, and I’ve been the one who has called things off. And both are equally difficult, just in different ways.

The truth is that breakups suck. Full stop.

As you’ll see in this article, it’s totally normal to experience feelings of guilt after breaking up with someone.

Am I a bad person for breaking up with someone?

Let’s clear this up straight away. No, you’re not a bad person for breaking up with someone.

And here is why:

1) Bad people tend not to worry about whether they are bad people.

It’s good people who fret over the consequences of their actions. Only good people worry about the feelings of others. Bad people are too busy not giving a damn.

So the fact that you are concerned that breaking up with someone could make you a bad person means that you are mindful of others and how your behavior influences them.

These are the signs of a good person, not a bad one.

2) It is respectful

If you don’t want to be with someone, it’s a sad fact of life that we often have to be cruel to be kind.

Meaning, that in the short term this is painful but in the long run, it is for the best. If you don’t want to be with somebody then it is far more respectful and compassionate to let them go.

This allows both you, and them the chance to find someone else.

You are being honest with them. That’s not always easy and it takes courage.

3) Staying with someone you don’t want to be with isn’t kind, it’s weak.

I want you to read this point again so that it truly sinks in:

Staying with someone who you don’t want to be with isn’t an act of kindness, it’s an act of weakness.

Sometimes we think (or tell ourselves) that we want to spare someone else’s feelings by keeping them around when deep down we don’t want to be with them anymore.

But this isn’t really all that is going on.

Really we don’t want to feel like we’re hurting someone. We don’t like the uncomfortable emotions that come up for us. We don’t want to feel like a bad person. We don’t want them to be upset with us.

So keeping quiet when you know in your heart it’s over is sometimes more about you and your feelings than them and their feelings.

It’s awkward and messy to tell them how you really feel, so it’s very tempting to avoid doing so.

Why do I feel guilty after breaking up with someone?

If it’s not a bad thing to want to break up, then why does it feel like that?

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking ‘I just broke up with my boyfriend and I feel awful’.

So, why do I feel like a bad person after a breakup?

Here are some reasons:

1) We don’t like to disappoint people

Guilt after a breakup is a very natural human emotion to experience.

The bottom line is that we don’t like disappointing other people.

When we say or do something that causes another person pain, especially someone we care about, we feel bad.

Many people pick up a habit of people-pleasing from a young age. We want to be perceived as being nice.

So when you break up with someone and it causes pain or anger, it’s no wonder that you feel not very nice.

2) You still care about them

Feelings are complicated. Often when we no longer want to be with someone we say things like “I love them, but I’m not in love with them”.

The strong romantic desire may not be there anymore towards them, but that doesn’t mean you no longer care.

You don’t just turn feelings on and off.

When we have spent a lot of time with somebody and bonded with them, we get attached.

That attachment and those residual feelings that are left over, even if they are no longer romantic, make you feel bad (and even conflicted) about breaking up with them.

It can feel particularly challenging when you know they are a good person, and you feel like they didn’t do anything wrong. It makes it feel even harder to hurt them.

3) You’re worried you made a mistake

In some instances, feeling bad about breaking up could come from doubts you’re now having.

Perhaps you have started to wonder ‘why did I break up with someone I love?’ and worry whether you have done the right thing or not.

Ultimately, only you can know whether you have regrets.

But what I will say is that wondering whether you made the right decision is also totally normal after a breakup.

As I’ve said, feelings are not always straightforward. You can like someone, but just not enough. You can love someone, but no longer feel the spark.

When the breakup feels final, this can create panic over whether you’ll live to regret it.

4) You didn’t behave in the best way

Sometimes breakup guilt arises when we know we behaved badly.

Maybe you handled the breakup poorly — for example, ghosting someone, not giving them a proper explanation, or doing it over text.

Or maybe you feel like you haven’t treated your ex very well in general. Perhaps you cheated or there’s someone else on the scene. Maybe you weren’t very kind to them.

Although you shouldn’t feel bad for breaking up with someone, it obviously does matter how you do it and how you treated them in the relationship.

If you know you could have done better, then the guilt you feel now is trying to signal that to you.

Rather than continue to carry that guilt and shame around, it’s just about learning lessons and recognizing how you would have done things differently in hindsight.

How do I stop feeling guilty about breaking up with someone?

I’m going to level with you:

If you are wondering how to break up with someone without feeling guilty, then you need to realize that at least a bit of guilt is normal.

You probably aren’t going to be able to break up with someone and then skip merrily away with a big smile on your face.

You can still feel relief and know you’ve done the right thing, whilst simultaneously feeling bad about having to hurt them in the process.

The following things can help to significantly reduce your feelings of guilt:

1) Stop making it personal

I know that it all feels very personal. You’re not a robot, so it’s bound to feel very personal. But it’s important to try to separate yourself from the situation.

Try shifting the frame which you are using to view your breakup. Right now you are most likely saying to yourself:

“I have hurt them” “I have caused them pain” “I have made them angry, sad, disappointed, etc.”

But in doing that, you are taking on full responsibility for their feelings.

Try to understand that it’s the situation that has actually hurt them, not you. You didn’t choose it any more than they did.

You are most likely also hurting — even if it’s in different ways.

Unfortunately, life contains both highs and lows, and we will all experience pain and suffering. It’s unavoidable.

Don’t shoulder the “blame” for feelings that you can’t control — both theirs and yours.

2) Be honest and communicative with them

Break-ups are always going to be hard.

The best we can hope for is honesty, respect, and compassion towards one another.

Knowing that you tried your best and behaved in this way towards your ex is going to help you feel like you did all you could. Which will help to reduce feelings of guilt.

When you break up with someone, ask yourself ‘how would I like to be treated in this situation?’

You would probably want a face-to-face conversation. You would expect some kind of explanation. You would want them to hear you out, answer any questions you might have and have a conversation about it all.

There isn’t a perfect way to break up with someone. But being honest and making an effort to communicate how you feel is a great start.

3) Remind yourself why you wanted to break up

Here’s what all too often happens after a break-up:

We get so wrapped up in the other person’s emotions that we forget ours are just as valid.

This is a particular trap you can fall into when your ex is kind, loving, and treats you well. You find yourself thinking things like:

“But they really care about me” or “They are so good to me”.

You fixate on how they feel about you when really it’s about how you feel about them.

We’ve all found ourselves wishing we could like someone. Thinking that they would be good for us. But try as you might, you can’t force feelings.

Focus on how you feel about them, not the other way around. Remember why you wanted to break up in the first place.

4) Know that it’s ok to put yourself first

Sometimes, putting yourself first means doing something that feels selfish.

Selfish is seen as an ugly word in society, but the reality is that the world would probably be a better place if more of us focused on what was best for us rather than others.

It’s up to everybody to take care of their own emotional, mental, and physical well-being.

It sounds brutal but the truth is:

You don’t owe anybody anything.

That doesn’t give us all permission to go around acting like A-holes, and totally dismissing others’ feelings. But it does give us permission to make choices that serve us best.

That is going to mean treading on other people’s toes sometimes. But ultimately there is never going to be a way to keep everyone happy in your life. You need to focus on making yourself happy.

5) Talk to an expert

While this article explores the reasons why you feel guilty after a breakup, it can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach about your situation.

The time after a break-up is usually a bit of a rollercoaster. We may feel confused, sad, guilty, lonely and a whole range of emotions.

With a professional relationship coach, you can get advice specific to your life and your experiences…

Relationship Hero is a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations, like breakups. They’re a very popular resource for people facing this sort of challenge.

How do I know?

Well, I reached out to them a few months ago when I was going through a tough patch in my own relationship.

After being lost in my thoughts for so long —and not knowing whether to break up with my partner or try to work things out —they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

Click here to get started.

To conclude: Am I wrong for wanting to break up?

If you take anything away from this article, I hope it’s the feeling that you are never wrong for wanting to break up with someone.

Sadly, people fall in and out of love every day. Loving and losing are a part of life. The ways of the heart are mysterious and sometimes we don’t even know why our feelings have changed.

The truth is that there is no way to 100% know whether we are making the “right” decision, in any situation in life. All you can really do is try to follow your heart.

Whatever you decide, know that there will always be another person out there for you to date (and for your ex to date too).

If you’re feeling guilty because you broke up with someone, please remember that you are allowed to put yourself first.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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