It Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult
By Mary R. Dittman, M.B.A.
If you've ever been through a painful breakup, you know the only thing worse is a LONG, painful breakup.
Please note: In this article I am NOT talking about divorce. I have never been married; thus, I have never gone through a divorce. This article is about breaking up with someone you have been dating.
Not as painful as a divorce is ending a relationship with someone you live with.
I was in a relationship a long time ago, and we lived together. The breakup was very painful and stressful.
Today, I would never live with a man until we’re married. That is not a moral judgment - it’s just that my desire is to be married, and extramarital cohabitation has been shown to make men LESS likely to marry you!
But what about relationships where you’re not married and not living together?
We all struggle with ending things - whether it’s been one date or one decade.
Recently, I asked a friend how her college-age daughter was doing and if she was still seeing her boyfriend. “No,” my friend told me. “Actually, she’s been breaking up with him for the past year.”
Ladies, a breakup conversation shouldn’t even last one hour.
Some things to know up front:
The more information you give, the more he is going to think you want him to fix things. Your “reasons to breakup” list becomes a “to do list” of things for him to work on. Keep it simple. If you’ve ever had a guy breakup with you, they rarely give you a concrete reason - they keep it generic (“I don’t know,” “I just need space,” “I’m not ready for anything serious.”). That’s because they don’t want an argument!
Men are nice when pursuing and women are nice when rejecting. This is like communicating on two different channels. When you are nice in rejecting a man, he hears hope. “You’re a great guy, but I just got out of a relationship,” sounds like “I like you - keep trying because I just need to get over the last guy.”
This doesn’t mean you need to be a jerk, but it does mean you need to be clear.
As women, we think a guy “deserves” a face-to-face breakup. I think that is only a possibility if you’ve been dating for more than a year.
If you’ve had one or two dates: I normally take a page from the guys and just “ghost.” Disappear. Don’t pick up the phone when he calls, don’t text, don’t reply to texts. This is the international sign for “I’m not interested,” and most guys will eventually get it. Sadly, not all understand this.
If it’s been 3 or 4 dates, I will send a text that says, “To be honest, I really don’t feel that spark. I’m not feeling any chemistry, so I don’t think we should go out again. Best of luck in your search!” That’s it. No more responses.
You don’t want to get into a back-and-forth because it’s not helping him understand, it’s confusing him because he thinks it’s a negotiation.
If you’ve been dating 3-9 months, I prefer a phone call. The next time he calls you tell him your feelings just aren’t there and you don’t want to continue to see him. You keep saying this over and over. This conversation should take no longer than 10 minutes. A man with a shred of self-respect will want to get off the phone. Again, you are kind and straight-forward. Don’t get into “you’re a great guy,” or any of that. He will think you are unsure and that you need convincing.
If you have to, after about 10 minutes, you say, “Listen. I’ve been clear with you that this isn’t working out for me. I don’t want to see you anymore, and I need to go now so I’m hanging up. Goodbye.” And hang up the phone. And don’t answer if he calls back.
Women want to leave a breakup with some kind of assurance that the guy isn’t upset with them.
But he probably will be upset.
If you’ve ever been broken up with, it hurts!
You can’t make him feel better and the best thing you can do is go away and let him work through it.
If it’s someone you have been dating for a year or longer, you may feel that an in-person conversation is appropriate.
I suggest you meet in a public place, like a coffee shop. This way, if he freaks out you can escape. I broke up with a guy one time at my place and he sat on my couch and cried for 2 hours. I couldn’t get rid of him!
Likewise, you don’t want to be at his place because it may be difficult to leave.
Finally, if he goes into a rage, for your own safety you need a public setting.
Personally, even at that point, I prefer a phone call.
I had been dating a guy for about 4 months when I decided to end the relationship. This was prior to me understanding how to honor my boundaries, and he was begging for a face-to-face conversation.
We met at a coffee shop (so far, so good). However, it took me 2 hours to get out of there. Even when I left (to swing by the ladies’ room), he chased me down (at the restroom!) and wouldn’t let me leave.
Then, he showed up at my house about a month later. This was after he’d called my dad no less than 5 times.
When I wouldn’t let him in when he dropped by unannounced and unwanted, he complained to my dad, “She wouldn’t even let me inside the house!”
No kidding, Genius! I couldn’t get away from him at the mall - there was no way I was going to let him into my home!
If I could go back, I would have broken up with him over the phone as soon as he violated my boundary. I asked him to give me a few days of space, but he ignored that and blew up my phone constantly. He also accused me of cheating on him (I wasn’t) and he threatened me.
The phone breakup would have been 10 minutes or less.
The 2-hour face-to-face breakup was a rookie mistake.
No matter what, neither you nor the guy is going to feel good about a breakup. Even when you want a relationship to end, there is discomfort and painful feelings involved. Your goal shouldn’t be to eliminate pain, it should be to keep the most painful moments to a minimum.
Remember: the more information you give him, the more he will argue with you. He will turn things around on you, blame you, and list the things YOU do wrong. Don’t get into all that!
If you want out, get out. And don’t expect him to be happy about it. But trust that he will be okay because he wants someone who will love him and stay, and that’s not you.
Part of the One-Derful Life is being able to exit the wrong relationship quickly so you can remain peaceful and restore your happiness as soon as possible.
Question: Do you feel you owe it to someone to breakup in person?
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