I can deal with some awkward situations, but handling confrontation or uncomfortable circumstances of any kind has never been my strength. And of all the unpleasant circumstances out there, breaking up with someone HAS to be the most confrontation-y and all around terrible-ific situation that has ever existed. There is no “good” way to to do it. You can’t just say, “I think you are a great person, but I’m going to need your greatness to not exist in my life anymore.” It simply won’t go over well.
I am probably one of the world’s leading experts on how not to end a relationship. In fact, it’s entirely possible that I am still dating my kindergarten boyfriend, because I have completely avoided any confrontation even back then. But I have hope that I can learn from my mistakes, and maybe even you can, too! Even though it’s going to be painful, you can soften the blow a bit by avoiding these tested and proven worst breakup approaches.
Don’t play relationship chicken
That game you play when you know the relationship is over, but nobody wants to say the words so you both just keep going, daring the other person to swerve first. I do not recommend it.
Don’t just go rogue
This approach usually entails cutting off all communication. It is typically implemented at the ultimatum phase, but is also very popular after the “where is this relationship going” question. It’s a ghost protocol move in which you hide from the problem, hoping it will go away. Proven ineffective in 100% of known cases.
Avoid the fade out
Similar to going rogue, but unique in that it is done gradually, like pulling off a band aid in the slowest way possible to ensure it’s as painful as humanly possible. When using this approach you skip the actual words and instead move right to not dating them without them even knowing it, leaving your somewhat ex with a case of breakup stupor.
Don’t bother softening the blow in a really weird way
“I have some terrible news. There was an earthquake and California broke completely off of the US. It’s just gone! Wait, calm down, I’m just kidding. I’m only breaking up with you; California is totally fine! Isn’t that great!” No. No it’s not great. Softening the blow never works in ending a commitment. It only leaves them sad AND concerned about earthquakes.
Whatever you do, avoid the panicked freeze
You’re trapped! The day was going fine and then they said “so where do you think this relationship is going” and your fight or flight instincts abandon you, leaving you frozen. But no matter how long you go catatonic, they can still see you. I’m pretty sure this freezing technique only works with a T-Rex. Silly me, always confusing boyfriends and T-Rexes. How embarrassing.
Telepathy doesn’t work. Let’s just accept it.
It’s not a thing. You are going to have to actually use your words.
It comes down to the fact that you have to put on your big girl pants and have an honest, open conversation with that person. You have to remember that even if things have soured and this is no longer a relationship that you can be in, this is still a person that you cared for and who cared for you and they deserve an honest conversation, so that you can both lick your wounds and move forward. Be strong!
Tracy Lynn is a writer, blogger, nomad and quasi-adult with a wanderlust that regularly zeroes out her bank account. She loves used book stores, Arrested Development, her dog Willow and sweatpants. If you enjoy made up statistics you should check out her blog at forarainyday.me