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Breaking Up, the Wrong Way and the Right Way.

Updated on August 15, 2010

I once heard a story about a woman who came home to her house to find the place ransacked, the TV, the PlayStation, video games and DVDs were missing. Immediately she phoned her husband to tell him the bad news they'd been burgled. He replied, "No babe, I moved out."

What he did was cruel and devastating. What upset her most was that he had planned for months to do it and, after being together with her for five years, couldn't dredge up enough respect for her to tell her that it was over.

Realising that you're really not interested in the person you're with and that you don't know how to break it to them is downright unpleasant. However, breaking up with people is part of having relationships and there are wrong and right ways to go about it.


The wrong way.

Behaving like an asshole until the other person dumps you.

This is long, drawn out, messy torture, and has the potential to backfire in a big way. The person you're dating likes you, and therefore when you start treating them badly: cancelling at the last minute, showing up drunk, flirting with other people in front of them, borrowing money, saying mean things, being selfish in bed etc... that person doesn't want to believe that you are capable of purposely setting out to hurt them. They will find excuses for your behaviour and want to stay with you through this troubled time so they can help you through it. By the time they're ready to throw in the towel and dump you, they hate your guts and are wondering if they've got grounds to sue you for emotional abuse.

Cheating on them with their friend/ relative.

Are you insane? Either you will be responsible for wrecking a friendship - or worse - a family; or they will gang up on you and exact their revenge. Be on the look out for figures that look like voodoo dolls.

Getting a friend to do it for you.

This was unacceptable even in high school, as an adult you should be truly ashamed to employ this method. Also, do remember that your friend will come away from this meeting knowing everything you ever did wrong in bed.

Via email

If you've only been on a couple of dates then this is not so heinous a method of breaking up; but as soon as you've slept with someone they deserve at least a phone call; and if you've been having sex with them on a regular basis, then you should make the effort to talk to them in person.

Via text, or by changing your facebook status.

People do it because it's an easy option, but it's cheap and tacky. Have some class.

Ignoring the other person, and not returning their calls.

This is probably the worst way you can break up with someone. For one thing you're sending them the message that they mean nothing to you, that you think they are worthless as a human being. Consequently this person will always regard you as a coward, and will tell every person who asks about you exactly that. It will take them a long time to stop despising you, and your reputation amongst mutual acquaintances will be lower than sea slugs on the ocean floor. If you want to end up on don' then this is the quickest route.


The right way.

Gird your loins and be prepared to say to the other person, "I think we should stop dating."

Have an answer to the question, "Why?"

It's difficult to explain why you don't like someone enough to carry on dating them. You should try to be as honest as possible without directly insulting the other person. So instead of saying "You irritate the hell out of me and I'm embarrassed to introduce you to my friends", try "We just don't have that much in common, a lot of the time I don't know what to say to you and I don't see this going anywhere."

If you get on well with them but you find them less sexually attractive than a slimy horn back toad, put it subtly by saying, "For me there's not much chemistry, I like hanging out with you but I don't see myself falling for you, and I suspect you feel the same way." Should they reply to this by professing their undying love/lust then you must simply be gracious and apologize for not being able to return their depth of feeling.

Be prepared to be blamed.

If the person you're dumping really does like you, and saw a future with you then chances are they're going to be mad at you... or they might cry. Do not give in and suggest getting back together.You'll regret it before you've even got the words out of your mouth, and it will make breaking up the next time even harder. Listen to everything they have to say, let them get it all out, if you have behaved badly then do apologize. There's no need to make yourself into a scapegoat though, if they're accusing you of crimes you haven't committed you're perfectly within you're right to defend yourself but to do it gently and don't lose your temper. However if the worst they're doing is calling you selfish or a few choice names, then just suck it up and take it. Once people have had a chance to air their grievances they tend to move on quite quickly and you may even find yourself receiving an apology for their harsh words when they've calmed down.... but don't hold your breath.

Don't hang around too long.

By this I don't mean sprint out the door as soon as you've broken the news. Tell them that you want to break up; answer any questions that they may have; listen to what they have to say/yell. When they seem to be gathering themselves that's the time to say, "I'm going to leave now." If they protest tell them that you staying isn't going to help. If they threaten to harm themselves, then straight away in front of them, phone one of your ex's friends or family members and explain that you've just split up and that the ex is threatening self-harm, and can they come over. Wait until the other person turns up and then leave immediately.

Take the first phone call, reply to the first text or email.

You may get some follow up contact. A little extra grief. People who've been dumped react in shock at first and then will have after thoughts that they want to get off their chest, most likely it will be a criticism of you. The first time, maybe even the second time it happens, acknowledge it with a very short, polite reply. After that feel free to ignore further texts/emails.

Be prepared for an amicable split.

This is actually more likely than you'd think. A lot of the time when one person isn't enthusiastic about the relationship, the other one isn't either. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to brave enough to say "I don't think we're really right for each other, do you?" to find yourselves in a mature, sensible conversation about bringing the relationship to an end. The key is to realise that you're both unhappy, and to understand why.


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