Most relationships end. If you're the one who ends a relationship, it's best to avoid doing it in a way that makes your soon-to-be ex loathe you for eternity — after all, that's how people get tagged in embarrassing, caps-locked Facebook feuds. Here are some tips for letting your partner down in the gentlest, most diplomatic manner possible.
First Ask Yourself
Does my partner seem aware that everything is not alright with the relationship? If they're already becoming distant and the fire seems to have died from both ends of the candle (ignore my mixed metaphor), the breakup will be easier. You can be more blunt. On the other hand, if your almost-ex thinks everything is just fine with their “huggle-bunny” and nothing could go wrong, your breakup will require extra tact.
Objectively, is my partner a little unstable, or does he/she have spiteful tendencies? Some people are genuinely afraid of breaking up because they fear retribution from their significant others. If that's the case, it's time to pull someone else into the equation, i.e. a physically intimidating, supportive friend/family member to help you through the breakup and make your ex equally afraid of getting back at you. In the case of violent/abusive relationships, the cops are often an even better option.
- Don't do it via text or over the phone, for God's sake. That is highly rude (unless you don't feel safe dumping them in person, in which case go right ahead).
- Don't do it on their birthday or Valentine's Day, if you can help it. In fact, maybe don't do it at the height of their happiness either. But, at the same time…
- Don't dump them while they're already extra down in the dumps. Or, you know, standing at the edge of a cliff. (Keep in mind, however, that you are not responsible for your partner's happiness, and if they claim otherwise, you have yet another reason to let them go).
- Don't say old clichés like, “It's not you, it's me,” or “I just want to focus on my career right now,” even if they're true! You can find a more sincere-sounding way to express the same sentiment.
- Don't be aggressive. Insults, screaming, and finger-pointing are totally unnecessary and will just end things on a terrible note. These should be avoided, no matter how negatively you view your almost-ex.
- Do be honest, to a point. If you're dumping someone because they're terrible in bed, explain that you feel the two of you are romantically incompatible. If it's because they're a nutbar in need of psychiatric help, express that the chemistry is wrong and you can't handle their overwhelming personality.
- Do keep your cool. If your partner makes a scene but you stay calm, only one person will come out of that conversation looking like a temperamental child.
- Do be passive-aggressive when the occasion calls for it. If your significant other turns out to be a lying, cheating scumbag, they deserve to be called on it in subtle, biting ways. “I just don't think this relationship is working… I need to be with one person I can trust, and you obviously need to be with several people you can trust, which makes us numerically incompatible.”
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