It’s the holidays. Your fuse is as short as daylight in December. You’ve got many things on your to-do list and not enough time or money to get them done. So you lash out at your partner, finally telling him what you’ve been thinking about for a long time — that you want out of the relationship.  Since he’s just as emotionally fried as you are, he responds by threatening to hurt himself.  Or worse.

IMPORTANT: Threats of suicide can be very real. Make sure you get in touch with a suicide prevention and/or support group immediately.

Now back to you. I’m going to guess you’re feeling guilt, anxiety, sorrow, anger, and possibly some fear. All of these emotions are honest. And they’re probably what’s holding you back from getting out. You might be feeling as though you’re a prisoner in your own home.  Held captive by a person you no longer love.  You are feeling emotionally blackmailed, and you’re impatient to get on with your life.

As with all conflict, resolution begins with conversation.

So talk to him. Be kind, but firm. And most of all, don’t argue. Begin by telling him that you care about him, and that you don’t want him to hurt himself. He’s a wonderful guy; he’s just not the right person for you. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be the right man for somebody else.

If you sense the conversation is moving towards an argument, don’t take the bait. Remember to make this about you. Start your sentences with “I feel . . .” and not “You make me feel . . .” Take ownership of your decision. After all, it belongs to you, doesn’t it?

Also, take ownership of the conversation.  Remember to circle back to your reasons. Maybe it’s that you’re not willing to give up your goals and dreams. Maybe it’s that you need more peace and less volatility. Maybe it’s that you’re feeling a loss of control over your own life. Then reassure him. He’s got a lot of things going for him: he’s smart, loving, kind, and funny. Remind him that many other people care about him. Remind him that he is responsible for his own choices.

It’s of the utmost importance that you remain kind, and that you remain calm.  Adjusting your tone and your volume can be of major significance in any emotionally charged situation.  Take a breath and dial it down.

As you’re ending this conversation, be prepared for a repeat performance.  Obviously, you’ve had awhile to get used to the idea of life without him. Most likely, he hasn’t had the same benefit. So offer him some thinking time.  Suggest that you take a break for a day or two, or a week or two, to give him a chance to  get some support from friends and family.  Schedule a date and time to resume the conversation.  In the meantime, understand that he needs time to adjust.

And while he’s adjusting, please read this again.