Whether you’ve been going out for three weeks or have been together for decades, moving past your relationship’s “best before” date is never easy.
The last thing you want to do is hurt their feelings. But in the end you have to think of yourself – and you want out. From picking the right moment to the language you use, from choosing your breakup location to coping with the dumpee’s emotions in the days that follow, these tips will help you hold ‘em then fold ‘em.
Cutting someone out of your life isn’t a decision you’ve made lightly, so take the time to plan the way you deliver the news. The more you put into the preparation, the less likely they are to become irrational. That said, some dumpees — even though they know a breakup is the right thing to do — will come to tears anyway. Think through what questions your soon-to-be ex-flame might have and plan appropriate answers.
Know Who’s On First
Your best pal may have been the first to know you felt something special for your most recent heartthrob, but that doesn’t mean they get first dibs on the news of the decision to break up. Be respectful of the person you’re about to say goodbye to and tell them before anyone else.
Face-to-face Face Value
Yeah, I know, it’s easier to deliver sad news over the phone, email or through text message. But you know deep down the right thing to do is endure those awkward, uncomfortable breakup moments in person. If you don’t extend this courtesy to your future-ex, there’s no chance in hell you’ll ever be friends with them or any of their hot pals. And if that’s not motivation enough, consider it a deposit into your Bank of Karma, saving yourself from being surprisingly dumped on Facebook — and in front of all your friends to boot.
Timing Is Everything
From orgasms to surprise birthday parties to stand-up comedians to a well-cooked meal, timing is everything. Apply this life theme to your breakup plan too. Don’t drop the bomb right after having sex or before a momentous event. Avoid special occasions — holidays, anniversaries, birthdays — at all costs. You may be ruining their day, but you don’t have to ruin that same day of the year, every year, for all eternity. If your dumpee is a social butterfly, consider a Friday dump so they can distract themselves with friends over the weekend. Or if your soon-to-be ex is a bit of a workhorse, make a plan for Monday so they can keep themselves busy at the office while adjusting to their new single status.
Location Location Location
Equally important is the spot you choose to deliver the news. A neutral venue with no sentimental value to either of you makes an ideal location. While there is some benefit to breaking up with someone in a very public place (like an intimate restaurant) in the hopes that fear of embarrassment would deter them from overreacting, it’s a bit of a cop-out. The place you choose should allow some opportunity for walking or finding more quiet spaces if needed, such as a park or shopping mall during non-peak hours.
Planned and Delivered
To avoid mixed messages, get your thoughts and decision across clearly, honestly and simply. It’s likely they too have felt the relationship disintegrating. By letting them know about the sadness you feel, you become an ally in sorrow rather than a tyrant of bad news. Without being accusatory (it’s you, not me), let them know what you’re feeling (it’s me, not you) and that you’ve decided it’s best to part ways. There is nothing wrong with having different expectations of a relationship or partner, just as there is nothing unnatural about falling out of love. Avoid lying to save hurt feelings. Instead choose your honest words carefully. Being considerate of their feelings can only be beneficial to you down the road — especially if this person is someone you’ll see again through friends or in work environments.
Let the Defense Take the Floor
Your dumpee may react in a myriad of ways — from laughter to tears to straight-faced seriousness to disbelief. Give them time to let the news sink in, and then let them talk about how they feel (if they want). Even if they guessed it was coming and know that it’s the right thing to do, some may try to persuade you to change your mind simply because they’d prefer to withstand an OK relationship than be without one altogether. Reply that you have heard their words but that you have made up your mind. If you let on that you’re wishy-washy on the issue, you’ll never move on. If possible, let them decide when to end the conversation.
Your ex may try to convince you to get back together in the days that follow. And if there’s stuff to collect from each other’s houses or occasions where you’re seeing each other after the breakup, it’s sometimes easy to fall back into old patterns and start fooling around again. Although we’ve all heard that breakup sex can be mind-blowing, the repercussions far outweigh the short-term benefits of a quickie. Hard as it is, avoid getting intimate with your ex. Who wants to go through the motions of breaking up with someone a second time?