“Soooooo you know this isn’t working anymore, right?”
I’d worked for at least a week trying to figure out exactly what I would say, and somehow that still ended up being what came out of my mouth. To be fair, I was being put in one of those lovely awkward moments where you find yourself breaking up with someone who you’re not even really with. We’d gone on a few dates at this point, but he’d fallen for me and now it was up to me to let him know that the feelings were not reciprocated.
Once again, I was thrust into the so-called man zone with this guy. I’d alread felt like I was the man in the dating situation when I found myself saying things like, “This was supposed to be about us having fun and it wasn’t fun anymore,” and “I said from the very beginning that I didn’t want this to be something serious.” Ugh. I threw up in my mouth a little just thinking about saying that last phrase. I know so many women who’d been hit with that very same line, and yet here I was thinking it about him. He knew, right?! He knew that this wasn’t what was up anymore.
Anyway, despite the clumsy way I started the conversation, it went much better than I expected. In fact, by the end of it, we were laughing and joking as if I hadn’t just essentially told him, ‘I like you, but not like that.’ Now, maybe it went so well because we hadn’t been dating for that long. Or maybe it was because I’ve had enough times where the conversation has gone so badly, I desperately tried to steer it the other way. But I’d like to think it went better than expected because I had good juju on my side. I chose to be upfront with him, instead of leading him on, which has to be by far the most important thing to do when breaking up with someone.
So let’s go ahead and list that as #1: Be upfront and don’t leave the person thinking that time, distance, whatever other nice excuse you can come up with is the only obstacle stopping you two from being together.
Do you know how easy it would have been for me to blame my lack of interest on distance? He even gave me the opportunity to do so, but I didn’t take the bait. No, it wasn’t the distance. It was him. And it was me. Period dot. In that same way, many of us try to give that sad excuse of ‘right now’s not the right time for me.’ Maybe that is the case. And maybe its just easier to blame it on time than to say, ‘maybe you’re not the one for me.’
#2: When you know its over, just say it.
I almost did the exact opposite of this. I knew I’d checked out, but there I was debating about whether I should say so over the phone (RUDE!) or wait til I got home a month and 1/2 later (RUDER!). I was actually contemplating waiting when CCB snapped me out of it. “That’s dumb,” she said. “You mean to tell me that you would wait another month and 1/2 to let this guy know you checked out a couple weeks ago… just so you could do it in person?!”
Well when she said it like that, it did sound kind of dumb. And she was right. Letting it linger on under the guise of trying not to be rude was unfair to both of us. The best way to do it was to do it then.
#3: Be sure of your purpose going into it.
Listen, part of why I was so hesitant in having this convo was because the last one I had lasted 3 hours and ended with me in a fit of hysterical tears. But a large part of that is because neither one of us
wanted to be the first to say goodbye knew exactly what we wanted going into the conversation. With this last one, my purpose was clear. I was done. No going back.
#4: No, you cannot be friends.
I’ve talked about this before, but it can’t be said enough. Not saying that you can’t eventually be friends. Some of my best guy friends are people I dated before. BUT can you be friends right after? Doubtful. And I’m just not a fan of that whole, we call ourselves friends but we’re not really friends, we just don’t want to eliminate the person from our life completely thing.
Anyway, I followed those four rules and 15-20 minutes later, I was off the phone and wondering why more ‘breakups’ didn’t go so well. It wasn’t exactly mutual, but it wasn’t hurtful either; and I think that’s the point we tend to miss when we try to sugar coat or belabor the topic.
What do you guys think? Are there some other best practices you think I missed?
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