The Breakup Letter Strategy

February 17, 2013
The Breakup Letter Strategy

When you break up with a boyfriend, it can feel like your whole world is crashing down around you as you try to make sense of what’s happened, while also trying to keep yourself together as you go through this adjustment.

You are grieving, and like a death, you will likely go through the various stages of grief (shock/denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, per the famous Kubler-Ross model).

In an ideal world, both partners would sit down and discuss their relationship, “life review” style, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses and processing their feelings about what went wrong.

They would be able to forgive each other for any hurts and mistakes made and find a way to say goodbye to each other that would officially close the book on that chapter of their lives before parting ways.

A nice and clean ending  isn’t always possible.

More often than not, hearts are broken or the emotions are too volatile to warrant any further discussion between the partners.

We mourn on our own, a torturous internal battle that typically includes obsessing about our ex and craving for “what could have been.”

But to land on our feet in a healthy way, we must foster our own resilience and begin the process of “letting go” of something that has now become a part of our past, as painful that may be.

What you need now is time to work through your emotions and to redefine a new identity as a single man.


“The support and guidance can be

welcome during a difficult time like this.”

There are many strategies for coping with a breakup.

Keeping busy with productive and meaningful activities, spending time with your support network, volunteering for a cause, focusing on health, wellness and personal growth, etc.

I might also recommend the “letter writing” strategy as a coping technique for breakup grief.

A common intervention used by therapists, this “homework assignment” could become part of your journal or as a venture all on its own.

Basically, you would write your ex a letter detailing everything you would like to have said to him in person.

DO NOT SEND THE LETTER. This is for your own therapeutic benefit only and is intended to give you a sense of personal closure.

You could incorporate the following items in this letter:

  • What attracted you to him initially.
  • What worked for you in the relationship (positives).
  • When you began to notice things weren’t working out very well anymore and what that looked like (negatives).
  • Ways you were hurt.
  • Ways you yourself contributed to the problems in the relationship to take personal ownership for your role.
  • Why not being together anymore is in your best interest.
  • What you’re going to miss about him.
  • What you’re not going to miss.
  • What you learned about yourself and relationships as a part of your ex-partnership.
  • What your hopes for him are.
  • What your hopes for yourself include.
  • Develop a statement of forgiveness toward him and yourself and express a way to say goodbye to him and wishing him well.

Destroy the letter through some type of commemoration ritual.

I’ve known men who have thrown it away, burned it, buried it in the ground and tied the letter to the end of a balloon and released it into the air to symbolize “letting go.”

It’s usually best to process this letter with a therapist, since you can see some pretty powerful emotions can potentially be evoked.

The support and guidance can be welcome during a difficult time like this.

What are some of the coping strategies that you use for managing the grief from a breakup?

 Photo source:

Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW, is “The Gay Love Coach." To sign up for the FREE Gay Love Coach Newsletter filled with dating and relationship tips and skills for gay singles and couples, as well as to check out current coaching groups, programs and teleclasses, please visit Connect with him on Google+.

Related Topics:
Breakups Gay

4 Responses

    I like the letter idea. I don’t think I’d want to send i off with a balloon, the wold is so small I bet someone would find it. I’d probably throw it out or rip it up as my symbol of “letting go.”

    I’ve gone an unhealthy route a few times when I break up with someone. Generally I get my other fun gay friends and we just take the night out and not care about anything. Normally involves a lot of drinking so it’s never as exciting with a hangover the next day.

      Yea I’ve gone out binge drinking too and let the warm whiskey sooth my aching soul haha. You feel like MORE shit the next day and it’s not worth it if you have to spend another day heartbroken AND hungover.

        I agree! the hangover is never worth it. It always seems like a great idea to go out at night, but I’ve chosen to stay in and come up with something fun to do during the day instead. It helps the grieving process go byy quicker.

    Henry Dela Peña

    just broke up with my bf of 3 yrs due to differences in our view. been working with him with same view and things have changed when we met other people

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