by Richie Frieman
In the previous episode of Modern Manners Guy, I touched on how to properly handle a breakup. With such great feedback from everyone, I wanted to take it one step further to discuss how to properly break up with someone. Taking on this topic also occurred to me when a friend of mine (age 26) informed me that he wanted to end his current relationship because it was too close to the holidays. What?!? Being a happily married man and having dated my wife for years beforehand, I know I’ve been out of the dating game for quite some time, but last time I checked I didn’t know dating was a seasonal thing. But the worst part came next. “So how do you end it?” I asked. Very matter-of-factly, he replied, “It depends. Text. Email is always good; or just don’t call. They’ll get the idea.”
But before I tackle this topic, I wanted to mention that the podcast edition of this article was sponsored by Go To Meeting
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How NOT to Break Up with Someone
After hearing my friend’s bizarre dating ritual, I was shocked! Where have I been? Have all the John Cusack and Julia Roberts movies led me down a path of naïveté?
After further research involving some close friends, I realized I wasn’t the wrong one and I came up with my top 3 ways NOT to break up with someone.
How NOT to Break Up With Someone #1: A Text
Let’s establish something about texting: it’s the lowest and laziest form of communication. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone because typing letters wasn’t efficient enough. Now over one hundred years later--when we have cell phones and Internet in the palms of our hands--people find it necessary to revert back to the 1800s and type a message. I don’t get it. But back to the disaster of breaking up via text, which my one buddy calls, “A go-to if you’ve only gone on a few dates.” So sweet.
The texting break up has become stuff of legend, seen in movies (Up in the Air) and among the teen set (One of the Jonas brothers to Taylor Swift). If you are going to ruin someone’s happiness for the day (or weekend… or month!), texting is not the way. A text breakup casts a nasty shadow on the entire relationship--as if to say it was never that important anyway. No matter how eloquent you try to make a text break up, this is how it reads, “Hey there, I’m about to walk into the office but wanted to tell you it’s just not working for me. Best of luck. Hope we can still be friends?” Yeah right, friends? Are you kidding me?
If you’ve just been dumped by text, delete it immediately and try to move on—even if moving on means a carton of Ben & Jerry’s. They do not deserve a response.
How NOT to Break Up with Someone #2: Email
Again, like #1, breaking up via email is beyond tacky and cowardly. You can write pages of reasons why you are ending the relationship but it won’t help--you are still a wimp. The only plus to the email break-up is that it’s a step above the text break-up, which is like saying a kick in the head is a step up from a kick in the crotch.
It’s a proven fact that people are more open and honest through email then in person, but that doesn’t make ending things through email any better. My friend Erica told me she prefers to do it this way because it “hurts her less.” Hurts her less? What about the poor sap whose heart you just destroyed? The dumpee always gets hurt more--no matter how guilty the dumper may feel.
If you’re the e-mail dumpee, don’t reply right away. First of all you are pissed--which you should be--and second, it will drive them crazy waiting to hear what you have to say.
How NOT to Break Up with Someone #3: Just Stop Calling
This one is the pound for pound world champion of rude relationship behavior. I mean, is this really an option? How old are we? Yet, my friend Jim still says he keeps this one in his back pocket when he’s too chicken to end it in person. He followed it up by saying--quite proudly--“It works! I have never heard from them again either, so it’s all cool.” Shocking!
You should never end a relationship by just not calling. It’s a colossal step back in evolving as an adult. Instead of falling off the planet, try instead to--drum roll- just be honest! Oh yes, honesty, that little part of life that makes us mature and caring. By being honest you’ll save yourself tons of trouble. Chances are you’ll run into them again and the last thing you need is for them to remember you as the one who never called, emailed or--and I can’t believe I’m saying this--texted back.
How to Properly Break Up with Someone
So what might you say in order to properly break up with someone? As I said before, go honest. It may be hard to do but it’s the right thing. After all, lying is by far the rudest thing you can do to anyone. So instead, tell them how you just don’t feel the way you did before. Tell them it’s best to end things now before it goes on and they end up hating you. Never say, “We can still be friends.” If you are meant to be friends, it will be that way-- and it’s the dumpee’s job to indicate it.
Another great way to break up is to blame it on where you stand in your life when it comes to relationships. Tell them that you are not ready for a full on commitment right now. You thought you were when you started the relationship, but realized you need to figure things out for yourself. Whether it lasted a week, month or even a year, let them know you tried but just weren’t ready. They won’t like that answer and may feel like you were leading them on, but it certainly beats simply disappearing.
Being honest is not always the easiest at the time but it will always save you in the end. I guarantee you, if you cared for them at all, they will appreciate it. Just note, they may throw a drink in your face. But, at least you have a clear conscious… Now go change your shirt.
Do you have a disastrous breakup story you would like to share? Post them on my Modern Manners Guy Facebook page so we can all cry together. As always, if you have another manners question, I’m look forward to hearing from you so drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. As well, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ MannersQDT. And of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips.