Oh dear oh dear. It’s the end, isn’t it?

You’ve thought about it. Looked at all the signs. Made a list of pros and cons. Read all the articles. Did all the research. And there’s just no way around it, is there? It has to end.

I’m sure there are people out there that reach this point and then just do it. Easy and painless and quick, with no fuss, no muss, no nasty stains on the carpet.

I haven’t met any of those people, but I’m sure they exist.

For the rest of us that seem to have a hard time starting the conversation, or find it hard to follow through once the argument begins, here’s our twelve step program on how to leave a toxic relationship with dignity.

1. Give up on any dignity.

That’s right, I said it. Give it up now. Give it up like your car keys on cocktail night. Just hand it right over, before you do something to it that can’t be undone.

It’s better to face it head on – it’s going to get ugly. You may be called names, to your face or behind your back. There may be unexpected consequences. And you may do stupid things in the recovery process. Giving up on your hopes of making a serene, dignified exit now will save you a lot of surprises in the long run.

2. Accept that it needs to be done today.

Yes, today. No, not after you get your hair done. You don’t need to look pretty for this, trust me. You might as well do it just as soon as you’re done reading this article.

The longer you avoid it, the worse it will be. Think about it, you can be free of a toxic, hurtful part of your life by this evening. Tonight can be your first night as a detoxed individual ready for the rest of their life. Doesn’t that sound good?

3. Accept that it doesn’t ALL rest on your shoulders.

Whether or not this comes out messy and ugly is not entirely up to you. You can only do the best that you can do, but there’s a whole other person involved. After a certain point, you have to accept that no matter what you do, they still have the right to think you’re a jerk if that’s their choice. So do your best, but don’t obsess. It’s not all on you.

4. Think of a decent way you can do this.

It helps to imagine that you have a daughter or son, and somebody needs to break up with them. How would you rather they do it?

Generally, this just means not being cruel. It might mean giving a few reasons why, without making it sound like it’s all the other person’s fault. It might end by reminding them that they are a great person and a great gift for someone else, just not for you.

5. Have an exit strategy.

In case your decent way fails miserably and somebody starts throwing dishes. It’s always better to be prepared than to be surprised, so have an exit strategy, both emotionally and physically.

This means being emotionally prepared to say “I can see that you’re not ready for this conversation right now. The breakup still stands, and if you will want to talk about it down the line, I’m open to that.”

It also means meeting in a public place and knowing where the exits are.

6. Have a recovery strategy for your belongings.

Did you leave anything with your significant other that’s really important for you to have? Is it worth the effort? Are you sure? Super sure? I once left a beautiful hand-crafted Spanish Guitar at one of my exes house. To this day I do not regret it one bit.

You still want to get it? Fine. Then it’s best to have a recovery strategy in place. When can you go pick it up? Can they stop you from doing that? Do you have anything of theirs you can hold hostage in exchange?

You may enjoy our other popular page > When to Give Up on a Long Distance Relationship: 9 Deadly Breakup Signs

7. Categorize your friends.

You know that some of them are going to be on your side no matter what.

You also know that some of them are backstabbing twats. Be careful what you say to whom, and be prepared for turncoats where you least expect them.

It never hurts to keep a low profile about the nature of your breakup and keep saying only nice and kind things about your ex in public. It’s not lying, it’s maintaining a positive public image of something that isn’t the public’s business, to begin with.

And speaking of low profile…

8. Keep off social media.

Don’t tweet about it. Just don’t. No Facebook posts. No status updates. Don’t even post a quote of those song lyrics that you think are subtle but we all so totally know are about your breakup.

Just as an example, somebody changing their profile picture from one of them and their significant other to one of just them is already pretty clear. Posting the lyrics to “I want to break free” is just adding salt to the wound. Leave it.

You might even want to leave all your photos together still online for a while. There’s no need to look like you took them off in a fit of rage, and they won’t hurt anyone if you leave them up for a few days.

9. Warn one friend or family member. Just one.

And only do it shortly before informing your partner of your decision.

You don’t want the news to leak to them from any other source, but it does help to have one person you can call for backup in case things go south and you need to call in sick at work and stay in bed for a week.

10. Get your supplies together.

Tonight is going to be the first step of your recovery, so think about what you need. Books and tea? Netflix and pizza? Red wine and a new vibrator? The choice is yours, so go out there and get it.

Or get all of them.

Chances are you’ll be saving quite a bit over the next period which you would have spent on your relationship, so this is a great time to give yourself a pick-me-up. When you get home tonight, devastated but ten pounds lighter, you’ll be grateful to have some creature comforts to fall back on.

11. Take a deep breath.

And remember that this seems big to you now, but it’s only a small dot in a much larger picture. Don’t let it overwhelm you, don’t be intimidated by it, and don’t forget to breathe.

12. And… Do it.

That’s it, just do it. You’re ready, and it’s time. It’s going to be ok.

It’s never an easy thing to do, but it always feels better once it’s over with. Leaving someone behind who was bad for you is freeing, refreshing, and can really push your life in good new directions.

Now is the time to focus on your career, or the arts, or a new sport. To learn a new language and make new friends and take a wild trip somewhere. To do whatever it takes to turn yourself into a new person, fully recovered from this ordeal, and ready to try again.

Oh, and look, what’s this? Surprise! It’s your dignity. It will be waiting at home for you when all this is over. You do get it back, good as new.

You’re welcome.

See our other popular page > How To Heal From a Breakup Fast & Healthy: 5 Effective Tips

Words By: Alexandra Pana
Feature Image By: Anastasia Taioglou