Dating is the weirdest thing. You meet someone that you like, you guys gain momentum, maybe see each other’s bedrooms, go to brunch, drink too much (not necessarily in that order). And then at some point, a decision is made: You keep dating, perhaps becoming boyfriend / girlfriend, or you don’t.
We’re all pretty familiar with the above scenario. There are three main options on how to communicate that you don’t want to move things forward with someone. Option one: You can disappear – a popular method utilized by both men and women; however, it’s usually everyone’s worst nightmare. Option two: You have a casual and sure to be awkward face-to-face where you call it off. This can be a lot of effort for an unpleasant happening. Or you have option three and my personal favorite: You write what I lovingly call ‘a coffin and the nail’, because usually one or both of you realize it’s got no legs and you’re just waiting for the game to be called. It’s an email that basically says, “You’re great. I like literally everything about you. But I don’t see long term potential here. You totally deserve someone who is going to be excited about you. Because you are so great. I really wish I could commit to you and your greatness.” The important sentiment here is to let the person know how great they are. And yes, these are lines from an actual email that someone wrote to me. Feel free to copy and paste and use for your own amusement.
I think it’s universally agreed that it’s better to say something rather than nothing, but it’s hard because there are really only so many things we can say without telling the truth. It’s not like we can tell people exactly why we are breaking up with them. Those emails would go something like: “I like you but sometimes you remind me of a cross between my dad and my first grade teacher – the one with the bad toupee. Plus you have soft hands and you own every color of ugly diesel / leather sketcher type shoe. Even metallic.” In the end, the nail and the coffin is the “nicest” way to get dumped, even if it’s fake and we all know it.
While I have sent many of these emails (brag), I’ve also received quite a few in my day (unbrag). But I will never forget the first coffin and the nail letter I ever received. When I was in 6th grade I asked out a 7th grader. We dated for three super serious months and then my middle school boyfriend dumped me using the nicest lines I have to this day ever received: “You are great and you should never let anyone tell you otherwise.” I cried at my friend’s house, pouring over his breakup note that he passed to me in gym class, not understanding why if this was how he felt, how he could be breaking up with me!!! I was so young and naive then; I didn’t realize that this was just a tactic. Of course he ended the note with “I have to split like a banana,” but it still meant a lot to me. Plus, we’re still friends and he’s gay (obviously).
We will all write and receive the coffin and the nail and without a doubt, we’ll all hear endless versions of goodbye before we meet the right one. And hopefully, God willing (GOD WILLING) we will never have to deal with the coffin and the nail again.