Some breakups occur suddenly. You make a surprise visit to his apartment and find him in bed with the girl who you thought was your best friend. You scream and tell him, "Return to Hell, demon!" You use every four-letter word you know to tell him about his character and then you turn and leave. It's finished.
Sometimes, however, there is no traumatic event that triggers a breakup. There haven't been any big blowups but you just haven't felt satisfied. You realize that this relationship is not going in the direction that you want for your life. You need to end it. Unfortunately, you can't hire someone to do this for you. Nobody is an expert at breaking up so don't feel that you must be prepared to execute a flawless breakup, but do give it some thought first. Here are a few pointers to consider.
1. In person. If you thought this person was good enough to date for at least two or three dates or maybe even much longer, you don't need to treat them with disrespect. If they were breaking up with you, would you want to read about it in a text or hear it directly from them? You'd probably want to hear it from them so you could ask questions and get some clarification. Practice the Golden Rule always and not just when it's convenient or easy. Tell him or her in person.
2. In public. If you know them well enough and you trust that they won't come unglued and fall apart, telling them in private is more respectful. But your safety comes first. If you think they might lose their shit when they hear you're leaving, have them meet you for lunch at a restaurant, diner, deli, or some other place where you have some semi-privacy in your conversation but other people are around in case he starts threatening to take hostages.
3. During the day. Darkness seems to bring out all the hobgoblins and evil spirits of the world. Think about it; most of the crazy stuff happens at night. If you do it on a weekday during a lunch hour, you have a legitimate excuse for why you can't sit there for three hours to discuss the problems.
4. File your "flight plan" with the proper authorities. Tell a good friend what you are doing and where you are doing it. Promise to report to them as soon as it is done. This accomplishes two things. First, if you have any possibility of chickening out and backing off from actually breaking up, this will add some pressure to go through with your plan. More importantly, if you don't report by the pre-arranged deadline, your friend can either come looking for you or call the police.
5. Be firm. Don't equivocate. Be very matter of fact about your reasons. Don't sound like you are not sure of your decision. You thought about this and made your decision. You don't need your soon-to-be ex to agree with your decision and you don't need to convince them that you are right, so don't get sucked into any arguments about whether your reasons are valid. "I'm not going to have any discussion about whether my reasons are good enough for you. They are good enough for me and my decision is already made."
6. But don't be mean, either. Some people can only get the courage to do something like this if they convince themselves to be angry. You two don't work well together but that doesn't necessarily mean he did something wrong. Some combinations just aren't compatible. On the other hand, if your little sister told you that he tried to seduce her . . . I never advise people to be violent, but I would understand you being beyond angry.
7. Don't offer any hope. Don't state anything that gives her any reason to think that there is any hope. "Maybe after school is over, we could try it again." NO! If you two don't work together now, nothing will be different after school is over. Offer even the least glimmer of hope and, in their mind, you haven't broken up; you've just decided to take a break. This is not what you want them to think when they leave this meeting.
8. "No, we can't be just friends." Don't try to soften the blow by offering, or agreeing to her request, to remain friends. She will jump on the opportunity and think that eventually, you will come to your senses and she will be there to move it for the passionate embrace that signals that the greatest romance of the ages has resumed. Breaking up should be like your relationship died due to a sudden heart attack; trying to remain friends is like your relationship is dying from cancer.
9. Forget the cliches. Don't use lame lines like, "You're a great guy and you'll meet somebody else who will be better for you." You are not breaking up because you thought they should have the opportubnity to go meet Ms. Right; you are breaking up because you don't want to spend time with him any more. I don't know how girls react, but guys get angry when they hear that stuff. Real angry. Punch-a-hole-in-the-wall angry. Trust me, if you pull out any of those lines, you will antagonize him.
10. Yes, you are sure about it. "I've thought about this for awhile and I wouldn't be telling you if I wasn't sure. Don't wait for me to change my mind because that will never happen."
11. No more contact. Ask him or her to not contact you anymore. "Talking to each other will only prolong this and I don't want that. If you need to talk, call your friends." Immediately delete him or her from your social media. If you have "In A Relationship" status posted, change that, but don't post any details about your breakup. Nobody needs to hear that stuff and, if your ex hears about that through a mutual friend, it may just antagonize them and prompt new efforts to contact you. When you break up, you bury the relationship. You don't keep the corpse sitting around for a few months so you can agonize over it. After the breakup, you should not initiate contact with your ex for any reason and you should not respond to any of their efforts to contact you.
12. Don't ask for the gifts to be returned. Whatever you gave her, you told her it was a gift. If you demand that she return the gifts, you are giving her a reason to see you again: not a good idea. The only exception to this rule would be an engagement ring and she should be wearing it and able to return it to you at the time of the breakup. If she requests that you return gifts she gave you . . . I know you are going to say that this isn't fair, but that doesn't matter. Do what is easy; do what facilitates the breakup. Agree to return the gifts but don't agree to see her again. Offer to give the gifts to a mutual friend, her roommate, her mother, etc.
13. Avoid your old hangouts. For at least a few weeks afterwards, avoid going to places where you might encounter him or her. It will be awkward and just open the wounds. Worse, she might think you went to the old coffee shop actually hoping that you would see her.
14. Learn your lessons. Ask yourself why this relationship didn't work and don't minimize your role in the reasons. You want to learn from this so that you don't repeat the mistake. Be an adult and take responsibility for your contribution. Maybe you made a poor choice at the start. Maybe you rushed into things too quickly. You probably shouldn't have had sex on the first date when you knew she had just broken up with her boyfriend of three years. Becoming a better person means taking responsibility for your poor choices and bad decisions.
15. Stay busy. Even though you initiated the breakup, it can still be a depressing time. Make plans to keep yourself busy and distracted for a few days or a few weeks afterwards. Reconnect with friends. Take a long weekend trip away. And remove all the old photos, trinkets, and other things that will remind you of her.
16. Guilt is not your friend. Do not, under any circumstances, let loneliness or guilt interfere with the breakup. After the breakup, if you call or text him, you have reset the clock and it will be even more difficult to breakup the next time. Until you are married, your decisions in relationships must be about your best interest and only your best interest. It is her responsibility to look out for her best interest . . . and she is an adult (I hope!)
17. Have a safety net. If you feel any desire to run back to him, have a friend who you can call who will talk you out of it.
18. Don't forget. You don't need to forget your ex to move forward with your life. You just need to let go of some of those feelings. If you are feeling angry at them, you probably aren't ready to start dating again. If you are feeling very sad . . . you aren't ready. But don't expect to forget them. That's okay.
Now your "officially" broken up. Don't go make the same mistake again. Go and make a different mistake. Or go meet The One. Good luck!