Let's Be Practical: How To End A Relationship And Minimize The Stress!

I present here another rewrite of one of my earlier myTakes.

Let's Be Practical:  How To End A Relationship And Minimize The Stress!

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 pull out a gun and threaten to shoot him in the tallywhacker! You use every four-letter word you know to tell him about his character (or lack of 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 don't want to visualize being with this person five years from now. 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. You want to make this as easy as possible for you and as dignified as possible for your soon-to-be ex. Here are a few pointers to consider.

1. Don't warn them in advance. Don't call her and say, "Hey, I need to talk to you so we can break up." This just prolongs the process. It also gives her an opportunity to start working on all of the things she might say to lay a guilt trip on you. Or, maybe, she will get "sick" to postpone the event.

2. 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 should treat them with respect. 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 or closure.

Practice the Golden Rule always and not just when it's convenient or easy. Tell them in person. It isn't the easiest way to do it but, later, you will proud of yourself for doing the right thing.

3. 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 is more important than their feelings. If you think he or she 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 they start threatening to kill you, take hostages, etc.

4. During the day. All the hobgoblins and evil spirits of the world live in the darkness. Think about it; most of the crazy stuff happens at night. Breaking up during the day gives you more of a chance to decompress afterwards. It also makes it easier for you to set up step 5 below. Want to make it as brief as possible? Do it on a weekday during a lunch hour and you have a legitimate excuse for why you can't sit there for three hours to discuss the problems.

5. File your "flight plan" with the proper authorities. There are one or two friends who always have your back, right? Tell them 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 friends can either come looking for you or call the police, or both.

6. Be firm. Saying that is over, it’s final, you wouldn’t stay together for a million dollars, etc. sounds so heartless; why not ease the pain by not being so damned decisive? Actually, that would be a bad idea. 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."

7. 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.

8. 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. If you leave the door open – even the slightest glimmer of hope – your SO may think that you are not serious, you are doing this for effect, you just want a short break, etc., and then things will go back to “normal.” Is THAT what you want them to think?

Be prepared to say, "I've thought about this for awhile. I am not breaking up just to get your attention. I am saying this because I don’t want to date you anymore and I intend to move forward with my life. 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."

9. "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.

10. Forget the cliches. I swear, if I hear one more girl say something like, "You're a great guy and one day you'll meet somebody who really deserves you," I’ll become violent. Very violent! You are not breaking up because you thought they should have the opportunity to go meet Ms. Right; you are breaking up because you don't want to ever again see his face.

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. Even the otherwise meek and mild-mannered nice guys go ballistic when they hear that kind of BS. Trust me, if you pull out any of those lines, you will antagonize him.

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.

However, if you have even the slightest concern for how your SO will receive the news, tell one or two of their friends either immediately before the breakup or immediately after. The right friends will go to your ex-SO to console them . . . and to make sure that your ex doesn't not engage in any self-harming behavior. Also, do tell the friends that you still care and you still have some feelings for your SO but you do NOT want to receive any progress reports on how low into depression your ex has sunk.


12. Don't ask for the gifts to be returned. In the US, if you transfer possession of an item to someone else and state a clear intention to make a gift, the gist is complete and the recipient is now the owner of that item (with a few rare exceptions which probably do not pertain to you.) You have no legal right to demand the return of any gift. (Engagement rings are treated as an exception to this general rule, because an engagement ring is a conditional gift given in contemplation of marriage.)

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. If you gave her an engagement ring, she should be wearing it at all times and should be 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. Asking for the return of their gifts is often just a ploy which creates a reason to see you again. Don’t fall into that trap. Agree to return the gifts but let them know that you will deliver 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. No, you did not just waste six months of your life. It was a learning experience and you will be a better person if you actually learn some lessons from what has happened. 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; you never should have dated him and you ignored open and obvious warning signs. 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. Take her pictures off your smart phone. Don’t keep her picture as the wallpaper on your tablet.

16. Guilt is not your friend. Do not, under any circumstances, let loneliness or guilt interfere with the break up. After the break up, if you call or text him, you have reset the clock and it will be even more difficult to break up the next time. Until you are married, your decisions in relationships must be about your best interest. It is her responsibility to look out for her best interest . . . and she is an adult (I hope!)

Remind yourself of this simple but powerful bit of advice: you should follow your heart into a relationship but you should follow your head out of a relationship. This is wise advice and reassure yourself that you have done the right thing.

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. This probably will happen. Plan for 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. Remind yourself that holding onto these feelings is a way of holding on to the relationship and you need to let go.

Don't expect to forget them. That's okay. It's like recovering from a broken bone: it is a slow and gradual process and even when you think you are 100% recovered, you may still feel in occasional twinge of pain.

19. Don’t say you miss him! When you feel the urge to say, “I miss him” in that pathetic, sad voice that makes even you feel sorry for yourself, instead say “I miss the good times that we had." A break up is tough enough without YOU trying to convince yourself you made the wrong decision . . . and you really don’t miss all those bad times, do you? But say "I miss him" enough times and you will convince yourself that you have made the wrong decision.

20. Move forward when you are ready. Some people have various rules for determining how long you "must" remain in mourning before you resume dating. However long the relationship lasted, you should take about 10-15% as long to “recover” before you start dating again. I have also heard one month for every year you were together. Ignore such rules. Some people want to start dating immediately and that is how they recover and move forward. Some people want to take six months to “lick their wounds.” Don’t let anyone else tell you how long you need to stay “in mourning.”

Now you are "officially" broken up. Don't go make the same mistake again. Go and make a different mistake. Or go meet The One. Or if you are part of the polyamory crowd, go meet A Few. :) Good luck!


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OlderAndWiser is a GirlsAskGuys Editor
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Most Helpful Girl

  • @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.

    @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.

    3 excellent illustrations here!

    @Until you are married, your decisions in relationships must be about your best interest

    I hope people learn to keep themselves sane by following your piece of sage advice here after a breakup :-) Great article! Keep it up!

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    • @You two don't work well together but that doesn't necessarily mean he did something wrong. Some combinations just aren't compatible.

      Precisely! If a wrong key cannot unlock a lock, it doesn't mean that something is wrong with the key or the lock; it just mean that the combination isn't "compatible". Right? :-)

Most Helpful Guy

  • Definitely good break up advice, sorry to hear about yours , I've been single for quite some time now , don't know when I'll be ready since I was married 17 years and still not meeting anyone

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What Girls Said 2

  • Very well written. I agree with your article as a whole. Good advice, a smidge of humor that is easily read and followed. Liked it! Great job.

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  • *Modselection*
    #rjapproved

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What Guys Said 8

  • I thought it was as simple as saying "Hi [insert name here]! With us both it is over. We are officially single now. Have a nice life!".

    And then just separating ways and live life single again?

    I mean...
    It can't get any more simpler than that, right?

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    • Do you really think that any break up conversation is that simple and stops with those few sentences? I have ever had one that went like that.

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    • Break up conversations tend to go on for a long time unless both people are very accepting of the break up.

    • I am accepting of it seemingly... like I am accepting most things and facts happening in my useless life.

      But I really do need a lady :(
      I have reached a point, where I need a woman :/
      Now if there are ladies, who need a man like I need a lady is my next question.

  • Having a relationship means automatically stress.
    Just like having a shower and getting wet.
    You're very lucky when you get out owning all your stuff.
    Your ex wife WILL fuck you up as much as possible.

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    • You have been listening to guys who are bitter and who may have had bad experiences but that is not representative of what most people encounter in relationships.

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    • Big fuckin deal. It doesn't make the truth any less true. I'm biased against getting bitten by a prairie rattler, too, but it doesn't make rattlesnake venom any less potent or damaging.

    • @Barrabus_the_Free I don't care. Every guy who is pissed off at women and doesn't want a relationship is one less guy to complete with. Works out okay for the rest of us guys.

  • why do they always have to go right to the bank account hhahh (the truck) ... I mean break up but does she have to steal all their money lol

    geez

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    • I always advise my clients that they are entitled to take half of whatever is in their joint accounts. But get a woman pissed off and you know what happens, right?

      s3.amazonaws.com/.../...e474071971484068917412.jpg

      This scene, from Waiting To Exhale, "empowered" women to take their anger to new extremes. (The movie did not mention that what she did is arson and she can be put in jail for this.)

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    • wow... lol
      But why wouldn't people that rich create clause or a prenup... is that able to bypass that law in Florida? I mean rich people divorce all the time just to have their assets chopped up in half... hummm

    • Some people are afraid to approach their partner about a prenuptial agreement because it sounds like you are planning for a divorce before you get married.

  • I know one thing for sure. I ain't gonna break up with my pillow.

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  • Phil Collins divorced his wife by fax. It was old fashioned and the only stress is learning how to use a fax machine. I think I'll do things that way.

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    • That story is a hoax but you are free to do what you want. As I recall, you are not married, so planning for divorce before you get married is a bit peculiar.

  • this is great advice <3

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  • you're in your 60s man, aren't you too old to care about petty shit like this?

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    • 1. I am offering advice for other people, and many of them have expressed gratitude over the past 2 years.

      2. People at my age go through breakups, too. One week ago, I broke up with my girlfriend of two years.

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    • @Cavewoman I appreciate your kind words.

    • @OlderAndWiser You recently broke up again? I mean no surprise but how many girlfriends and wives did you have so far? How would you describe your inability to find "true love" that lasts forever (This is common I think)? I'm just interested in your perspective!

  • *Spends 30 mana*
    *avoids relationships*

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    • That's one way of handling things but you will be alone when you are older, unless you have a ton of money!

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    • Most of us are okay with other contestants dropping out of the competition.

    • Good to hear, mutual benefit makes it all the better.

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