Ideally speaking, each of us should theoretically break up with everyone we ever date…except for one.
And as dark as it sounds, that’s actually a good thing.
I realize that reality isn’t always that uncomplicated, and believe me I have the track record to prove it. But I think you get my drift.
And here’s the deal: Provided you are the kind of person who is generally easy to get along with, and if you’ve had some practice at avoiding utterly poisonous MOTOS, then you are going to be faced with the inevitable: breaking up with someone who hasn’t really done you any harm whatsoever.
You’ve probably been there before already. You start dating someone who attracts you early on, but after some time has passed one of you has decided that he or she really isn’t “feeling it” anymore. Someone is starting to feel a pull towards freedom-or someone else-but this creates a genuinely awkward situation almost every time.
You see, most of us are decent, upstanding people who really don’t get off on trampling other people’s feelings. Especially people we sort of, well…like. Right?
So what happens is that when someone just “isn’t feeling it anymore” for whatever reason, things tend to drag on for longer than they rightly should-all in the name of “not hurting anyone”.
But protracting relationships that aren’t going anywhere only really leads to greater emotional drama down the road. It’s rather like sticking one’s head in the sand.
Case in point. One well-worn “exit strategy” is to tell the other person that he or she “needs some space” or even that they “should date other people”. Such euphemisms are universally code for, “I’m pretty much sick of you and want out, but I don’t know how to do that without completely flooring you.”
I see some of you nodding out there. Don’t shout me down for telling the truth.
Other people may soldier on in a relationship that has grown stale, trying to tell themselves that “it’s just a phase”, or “we’ll work through this”, or “everyone’s just under stress lately”. But deep down, the longer these feelings of indifference persist, the stronger the indication that it just isn’t “meant to be”.
So how do we get into these situations?
Well, whether you are on the giving or the receiving end is actually peripheral to gaining understanding as to what’s going on. So for the purposes of keeping this to a special report instead of a full-blown e-book we’ll operate under the assumption that each of us will at one point or another see such breakups from each respective side of the fence.
In fact, if you’re history is a particularly lopsided one in this area (i.e. you’ve either dumped everyone you’ve met or been dumped by everyone you met), you probably need to drop everything and click that bright blue book cover off to the right ->
Back to the story.
We get into these situations for one of two main reasons. First, we jump into exclusive relationships too quickly, possibly due to pressure from the other person.
Or second, and ironically sort of the opposite of the first reason, we fail to identify what our relationships actually are, which inevitably leaves one partner’s expectations very different from the other’s.
So ultimately, the issue here is one of taking the high road of being honest versus the more cowardly low road of just letting things hang indefinitely.
20/20 foresight involves being very plain-spoken from the outset about intentions NOT to enter into a “serious” relationship if such is the case. This also requires that we listen when we hear those sentiments from someone, take them at face value, and not dream of changing the other person.
It’s easy to fantasize to the contrary when you really like someone, but people don’t generally tell you “they aren’t into getting serious” without reason. Do people fall head over heels and change their minds about that sometimes? Sure, it has been known to happen. You just can’t assume it will, that’s all.
But going into casual relationships with a level head obviates the probability of heartbreaking issues later.
And therein lies a key lesson in and of itself: If you find yourself falling for someone with whom there is practically zero possibility of long-term happiness, it’s better to cut it off now rather than later. Waiting only intensifies the heartbreak.
But let’s say you’ve gone ahead and entered an exclusive relationship and you realize it’s not going to work. Instead of procrastinating, have the conversation.
It’s not like you have to invent something bad about the other person to justify the break up. Instead, explain that you simply don’t believe that the relationship is meant to be, and that you believe there is someone else out there who would appreciate him or her more than you do. I’ve personally told a woman or two that she’s someone else’s dream woman, and that it’s time to let that guy find her.
Though there’s no perfect way to end what another person believes to be a perfectly good relationship, what I’ve described above is about as good as it gets. If you get a stream of invective in response, be sure to have anticipated it in advance and handle it with grace. Such is to be expected even from high-quality people.
Have the conversation in person if you can, and be direct and sincere. As is the case when someone has done the other wrong, don’t accept any bargains for getting back together. If “just being friends” is a future possibility, at the time of initial breakup really isn’t the time to talk about it. This would only create a false glimmer of hope.
What is happening here is the start of a very real grieving process involving denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You may get phone calls or even unexpected knocks on your door-each of which will serve to chronicle your ex’s journey through all of this.
Regardless of gender, the truth is that most of us can handle the truth better than MOTOS think we can. And we can certainly handle truth now better than we can handle divorce lawyers later, even if we don’t realize it. Right on.
So what if you are on the receiving end of such a breakup? Though it may seem devastating at first, realize that you’ve dodged a very real bullet in the form of even more pain later. Though it’s a hard expectation not to vent some at the outgoing partner, try not to completely burn the bridge.
Once you’ve composed yourself, and if you have the character to endure it, you may be able to find out some very constructive ways to improve future relationships from your ex. Or not. Your choice.
But no matter what, the key is to not let one break up devastate you to the point of giving up on future ones altogether. Just because one person wasn’t perfect for you doesn’t mean you are doomed to loneliness. In fact, it’s amazing how most of the time you end up “raising the bar”.
As you do exactly that, you’ll find yourself in control of your wildly successful dating life more and more. As you begin to enjoy increased options in the dating world, you’ll find yourself calling the shots more in your relationships. It’s all a part of deserving what you want.
Next time, we’ll talk about the particular nuances associated with breaking off short-term relationships. Among other concepts, we’ll cover why guys tend to “disappear off the map” without calling, along with some surprising thoughts about how sex early in the relationship potentially affects things.