I’ve never broken up with someone before but I have to now. In my previous relationships the other person always ended it. A few times I have wanted to get out too but haven’t had the courage to actually break up with them. I’m embarrassed to admit that I will just kinda pull away until they finally end it or get the hint and we just stop talking. I recently realized this about myself and decided that if I was ever unhappy in a relationship again, I would break up with them instead of my usual cowardly move. But now that I have been seeing this person for a few months, I realized that we just don’t have that much in common and I don’t see myself with them long term. But I’m scared. I really don’t want to hurt their feelings because I think they’re great, just not right for me. I am also debating my method. When I told one friend I was just going to text my soon-to-be-ex and get it over with, she yelled at me. Then I talked to another friend about it and she says she would actually PREFER to be broken up with over text. Wtf? What do I do now? HELP!
Never the Dumper, Always The Dumpee
Dear Never the Dumper, Always The Dumpee,
First of all, hats off for recognizing this about yourself and deciding to make a change. In a world where “ghosting” has become a common experience in the world of dating, it’s good to hear that you’re taking the road of emotional maturity.
I have had the discussion, “Is there really a good way to breakup with someone?” many a time, often when someone brings up that episode of Sex in the City when Berger broke up with Carrie on a post-it note (and I hate Carrie Bradshaw but yeah, that’s a terrible way to breakup with someone). I think there is a right way to breakup with someone, to a point. Either way, you are ending the relationship, and regardless of the circumstances, it can hurt. Rejection sucks and change is hard to accept. But there is definitely a way to break up with a person that shows them respect and allows you to be both honest about your feelings and sensitive to theirs. When it comes to your situation, it sounds like it is simply a matter of lack of chemistry. They have done you no wrong; it just isn’t going to work out. In this case, being too specific only serves to hurt their feelings. For example, being like, “Well, I think you’re really great, but your porcelain doll collection is off-putting and I can’t see myself being down to go to any of those conventions you attend” is just going to hurt their feelings. You don’t have to lie, but a simple, “The chemistry is just not there for me” should suffice. Also, none of this, “Well, I am just not ready for a relationship right now” stuff because that only serves to lead them on. Don’t leave a door open for them that you know is shut for you.
As far as over text v. in-person debate goes, I actually don’t think there is anything wrong with breaking up with someone over text message. It’s really all about context. Someone with whom you were making long-term plans and have been seeing for over a year? Yeah, you sure as shit better not break up with them over text. Someone you have dated for a couple of months and had maybe 5 dates with? Eh, you might save them the gas money and their dignity by letting them read your breakup texts swaddled in a nest of blankets and sadness. Today, text is the primary form of communication for many relationships, romantic or otherwise, and it is in the process of changing the etiquette of a lot of social situations, hence your two friends’ wildly different opinions on the subject.
If you are still not sure which is the best route, I would suggest you decide which way based on their preferred method of communication. Are they more verbal (i.e. do they prefer phone calls over texting, do they express affection out loud)? Or are they more inclined to express their feelings non-verbally (i.e. over text, through body language), in which case, an in-person breakup may be way more difficult for them to handle? Hopefully after dating for a couple of months, you have some insight into their communication style. Reflect on them as a person and this will guide you in the direction of a breakup that’s respectful.
Best of luck breaking things off, and give yourself a good pat on the back for being an emotionally intelligent human.