How To Break Up Without Causing a Breakdown
Dear April Masini,
After a long period of consideration, I've decided to end my relationship with my girlfriend of three years. I'm not sure if she has any idea it's coming or not, but no one likes being broken up with and I don't expect she'll take it well."
To be honest, I still care about her and, having had my heart broken before, would really like to do this in the most kind and gentle way possible. (My ex-girlfriends did not take this into consideration and it definitely made a difference). Is there any way to soften the blow when you tell someone you want to break up with them? Please give me any breakup tips you have.
April Masini's Advice :
The fact that you're concerned about your girlfriend's feelings is a great start. Hopefully, she has some inkling that things are not great -- it's usually not a sudden decline. There is certainly, however, some breakup etiquette that often falls by the wayside when otherwise polite and caring people panic at the end of a relationship.
More than likely, you will hurt your girlfriend by breaking up with her. Still, if you keep some of these tips in mind, you'll soften the blow as much as possible and hopefully be able to keep her as a friend once she has some time to get over the relationship.
Electronic Breakups -- A Big No-No
There are lots of ways to break up. There's one big way to not, though. Breaking up by text is not okay, but Britney wasn’t really breaking up with Kevin. She had her attorneys serve him with divorce papers, and she sent him a final flip off with a text message. The breaking up happened before that. It was private and the press was not privy to it.
Text messaging, IMing and leaving a message on an answering machine are NOT ways to break up if you have any self-respect. Want to break up with someone?
Breaking up is hard to do – if you’re a sensitive person. But not breaking up when one of you wants to is worse than breaking up, so do what’s right for the big picture, and if it involves breaking up, do it appropriately and kindly.
The Best Case Breakup Scenario
Do it face-to-face. Answering machines, e-mails, post-its and faxes are NOT cool ways to break up. If you have spent more than three dates with the person you’re breaking up with OR if you’ve slept with them you owe it to them to sit down, face-to-face, and tell them it’s over and that you’re sorry.
Keep anger in check.
– If you’re breaking up because you’re angry about something, express yourself, but remember that you are not a victim. You can come and go as you please – and you are.
– If you’re angry, chances are you’re mad at yourself for not seeing who this person was earlier, or for not trusting your own instincts.
Don’t be part of the drama.
– If the person you’re breaking up with chooses to cause a scene or make threats, don’t engage with them. Listen. Be quiet. Don’t respond. And if it gets too crazy, leave.
– If the person you’re breaking up with threatens suicide or violence, call a counselor, a doctor or a police officer and ask for advice. Don’t try to take on that kind of situation yourself. It’s not responsible on your part.
Dealing with the Aftermath
After you break up, “de-brief” with a friend over lunch and a movie. Keeping in your feelings about what just happened may be overwhelming, and may cause you to want to call your ex for contact or comfort – even if you’re the one who broke up with them! Have plans after the break up with a buddy.
You may also want to buy my book, Ideas for A Fun Date, for when you are ready to begin seeing other people.