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