Is A 'Relationship Exit Interview' A Kinder Way To End Things?

Closure is a word often thrown around at the end of a relationship. For some, the term refers to a sense of understanding about what caused a breakup so they can move on and be at peace with happened. This becomes especially important in relationships that didn't involve couples therapy or extensive open communication right before things ended.

Most of the time, one person may have noticed some signs the relationship was not going to work out, while the other still wanted to make things right. And when the relationship does end, the latter feels like they need more answers as to what went wrong and why things ended the way they did. In fact, for some people, moving on becomes more challenging when their mind is riddled with questions and self-doubt. This is where a relationship exit interview can come in handy. The concept itself borrows from the corporate world, where the HR team of a company usually conducts an exit interview with an employee who's just resigned. The purpose is to have an open and honest conversation about what went wrong in the dynamic and what areas could be improved upon. 

It might seem odd to follow a professional process within a formerly romantic union, but proponents of the relationship exit interview feel it is a kinder and more empowering way to call it quits. Here's why. 

A relationship exit interview gives you an opportunity to grow

How many times have we assumed things about ourselves when someone didn't reply to a text? We blame ourselves, sometimes unfairly, in order to make sense of things. The same can be said about relationships. Blind spots and assumptions are unfortunately quite common in a romantic partnership. When things end, no matter how hard we try to move on, there are those moments when our mind fills with questions like, "What could we have done better as a couple?" or "Did I do anything that caused this?" According to relationship coach Megan Luscombe via Fashion Journal, "A post-breakup exit interview is a great opportunity to get feedback on the obstacles or even challenges the other person faced while dating you." It is also a good way to learn more about your past relationship behavior. Overall, it is a chance to grow as a person.

For TikToker Molly Jones, conducting an exit interview with someone helped her successfully navigate the difficult emotions that usually accompany a breakup. "I have an anxious attachment style ... I overthink everything, and I create false narratives," she shared in her TikTok post. By getting to know her former partner's perspective, she was able to have a kinder relationship with herself when things ended. It is essential, however, for both parties to be in an amicable place for a relationship exit interview to even take place. 

How to go about a relationship exit interview

During an exit interview, you have to be willing to hear what your ex has to say without argument. You don't want to blame one another or dig out all your old problems. Both people have to approach the interview from a mature and kind place. You also cannot go into it wanting to rekindle things, which is why it might be wise to wait a few months post-breakup before doing it. Who knows? It might even uncover some red flags you overlooked.

Going in with a pre-planned list of questions can be helpful too. Try and keep the questions open-ended so that your ex-partner has a chance to elaborate. You can ask them things like, "What areas of our relationship did you like the most versus the least?" "What do you think tipped the scale toward calling it quits for you?" "What would you do differently if you were given a second chance?" As Luscombe added to Fashion Journal, "Keep in mind that these questions can only be asked if you're sure they're going to be responded to in a kind and caring manner, without judgement."

Temper the feedback you receive with a healthy analysis of yourself. Work on the areas you genuinely agree are problematic and leave the rest out. The interview is not about changing everything about yourself to fit an idea your ex has. It's an exercise in growth. It also gives you closure.