Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Hardest Part of Breaking Up Is Actually Doing It (Part 3)

Third scenario: the guy you’re “seeing”

Maybe you’ve met his parents. Or his friends. Or he’s taken you to brunch at Liberty Tavern one too many times for you to say, “We’re just getting to know each other.”

At this point, you need to do it in person. But the face-to-face is actually less about manners/his feelings and more about practicality.

The person on the receiving end of a “We should see other people” speech rarely succeeds in “not taking it personally.”

In fact, when most people realized that they’re being dumped, they take it pretty badly.

If you break up over the phone, or on Gchat, or at your apartment, he can yell, scream, cry, call you names, guilt-trip you into staying with him while he “rides out the pain.”

But if you break up with him in a bar, coffee shop, or other public place, the pressure to adhere to social norms will keep him from going too crazy.

Don’t make this a bigger deal than it has to be. Don’t ask him if he wants to get drinks at the Ritz. Instead, say something like, “Do you want to get coffee after work?”

Try to avoid alcohol at all costs. Lower inhibitions might make you feel more comfortable, but you don’t want him feeling “relaxed” enough to start crying, screaming, whatever.

Doing it in public keeps it short, sweet, and somewhat civil.

So come right out and say what you’re feeling the moment he sits down. No half-hour discussion about last night’s episode of The Big C as your lead-in to, “So, I’ve been thinking…”

Be as honest as you want, but, generally, the less you say, the better. If you say, “You know, I really want to date someone who plays kickball,” he’s going to take that as, “If I join a kickball team, we’ll stay together!”

Remember, you’re not obliged to hear him out. But again, it’s different for every relationship. If you’re breaking up with your fiancée, there might be more to say than there would be with your friend’s cousin’s brother that you met at a wedding.

If he’s being mean, rude, or just generally unpleasant, you have every right to say, “I have to go. I’ll call you when I’m ready.”

The bottom line is, the more serious the relationship, the harder the breakup. But if you do it in public, you’re making composure and priority, which should make the whole process at least a teensy bit smoother.

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