“Breaking Up” When You’re Barely Even Dating

That initial bracket of time when you start dating someone can determine pretty quickly whether you should continue seeing that person. However, some of us (me) tend to ignore important signs that one should walk away and look for someone new. What I’ve learned is that ignoring the obvious signs can lead to unnecessary heartache. What I hate most is when the disappointment is so big that it just messes up several days in a row that would have been better spent on happiness.

So, how do you know when to call it quits? How do you “break up” with someone you’re barely even dating?

The dramatic exit is the one I usually make after I’ve had my feelings hurt because I’ve slept with that person but got no amount of consistent attention after the matter. I make an emotional investment and expect the other person to follow through on his end by asking me out or inviting me over, but it doesn’t happen. Or when we finally do hang out, it’s usually just for you-know-what and not much else. The problem with the dramatic exit is that it lets the other person get away with saying, “She was a psycho!” Not cool.

Depending on the situation, I do take a stand and speak up for myself at the risk of the other person telling others that I was crazy. It makes me angry, but I can’t control their ignorance, and if they ARE calling me crazy, then it’s a damned good thing I won’t be rewarding them with my company anymore. I’ll suffer for a while because it’s sad to let go of someone you care about, but eventually common sense takes over and it’s a relief to get that person out of the way and make room for someone more deserving of my time and affection.

Over time I’ve learned that it’s important to subdue my dramatic nature, especially after dating guys who really weren’t all that fascinating. Instead of calling/texting a bunch of drama, I play it cool and just forget (on purpose) to contact that person. I abandon the desire to say something sweet or to make plans to hang out. It seems mean and callous, but honestly, it’s been done to me by plenty of men, and I don’t blame them for it. What it taught me was that if a guy could go for several days without checking in or asking me to hang out, it means he’s probably got cool stuff going on in his life and maybe I should ensure that I have the same. It’s such a huge waste of time to wonder, “What’s he doing tonight? It’s Saturday. Why hasn’t he invited me over?” Forget all that. It serves me better to make my own set of plans with my friends, or just enjoy my time alone to do something that benefits ME. And it’s usually on those quiet nights when I realize that if I was meant to spend any significant amount of time with that person, he would make sure to be a part of my plans instead of ignoring me.

There’s no real reason to be hurt by it, either. It’s a huge mistake to think that you’re not good enough or that you’re not interesting enough just because someone you went out with isn’t DYING to hang out with you again. There are times when it’s okay to just forget that person and reconcile with feeling a little hurt and having an awareness of when it’s just a quick little bruise to the ego, but nothing that causes long-term damage to the spirit. Just imagine that for every second you spend dwelling on that negative thought, a penny is being taken out of your checking account and being thrown into the ocean. You’ll never get back any time wasted dwelling on someone who doesn’t care.

With some men I’ve had to make it super clear and vocalize that we are no longer seeing each other. It mainly helps ME to hear it and then I’m obligated to stand by my word. Therefore, that means that communication is completely cut and there’s no turning back. Once you make a declaration like that, there’s no take-backsies and you have to move forward. Even if it’s not a serious relationship, if I’ve at least spent a significant amount of time with that person such as spending the night and shopping together, but still got no commitment, it’s okay for me to speak up for myself and say, “Hey, we’ve been hanging out a lot, and I really like you, but if we’re not going to be exclusive, I’m gonna have to pull away from this.” I’ve had to do this a couple of times and it was for my own good. Later, I did hear about one of these guys telling a friend of mine, “Hey, your friend is crazy. She broke up with me and we weren’t even together.” Naturally, I was angry, but it indicated to me the vast difference between MY perception of the relationship versus HIS. We viewed our interactions very differently and never talked about it, so clearly we were not on the same page.

And when you’re not on the same page with someone, you definitely don’t want to invest your heart into a fruitless venture.

It’s okay to no longer communicate with someone you’re not interested in seeing. It’s also okay to tell them in a clear and fair manner that you’re not interested in dating anymore. If your heart isn’t into it and you think there’s is, it’s okay to clearly state it and spare the other person a larger amount of heartache.

Conversely, it’s okay for you to approach someone you’re lightly dating and be honest with YOURSELF about what you want from the interaction. If you know that you’d like to see that person exclusively, don’t lie and say, “No, I’m not looking for a relationship” when clearly you are. This is a mistake because while yes, it may extend your access to that person, you’re still lying to that person and to yourself. If you want an exclusive thing and the other person does not, jump ship. Cry if you need to, but get out of there and save your heart.

The thing I most appreciate about dating is that it gives us the freedom to explore what we’re looking for from others. Sometimes I’ve spiritually punished myself for things not working out with someone I liked. What I learned, eventually, was that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with things not working out someone I date. I’m grateful to live in a time and place that allows me, as a young woman, to explore my options and determine whether I’m looking for someone’s occasional company or if I might want something serious. Dating is essentially a playground of errors. It has helped me a lot to have a flexible mind when it comes to realizing that I just won’t be seeing someone beyond a first or second date. If there was no “click,” I can just turn that page in my diary and anticipate a new story with someone else.

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