You've recognized the signs, abandoned hope of resuscitation, and come to a decision: It's time to end your relationship. But before devastating your girlfriend's heart with a direct hit from the breakup bomb, consider the alternative. With adequate preparation and tact, you can let her down gently, thereby minimizing damage and safeguarding your romantic reputation. When you're ready to hit her with the bad news, use these tips to soften the blow.
Know what to say
Once you've initiated the breakup talk, each word will carry the weight of a
freight train, so don't walk into this cold. Instead, collect your thoughts,
commit them to memory and rehearse. A few run-throughs will help you refine your
choice of language, get familiar with the terrain and prevent the need for
improvisation, which has a nasty habit of steering you into territory that will
Choose the right setting
Some circumstances lend themselves to an amicable farewell, others twist the
knife. Opt for the former by choosing a neutral location. Otherwise, she'll
link her favorite spots around town to a tearful goodbye. Once you've found your
drop zone, focus on timing. Her schedule has its own demands, and she may not
meet an important deadline if she's an emotional wreck. Finally, pencil her in
for a time when she has an hour or more to spare. A respectful breakup isn't
an "oh, and by the way." Plus, she'll appreciate having time afterward to
reapply her mascara.
Lying is fine when your naïve cousin asks how much you bench press, but when it
comes to backing out of a relationship, the facts will be your salvation. This
isn't permission to inform your girlfriend of her every shortcoming. Getting
dumped stings enough as it is, and guys who add insult to injury are begging for
pepper spray. If you must, sugarcoat the particularly brutal aspects to help her
stomach your spiel
Fault shouldn't rest wholly on either person's shoulders. Pinning her with the
scarlet letter will forever brand you as a jerk, not to mention accelerate her
emotional anguish. On the other hand, refrain from assuming responsibility with
a version of the trite "It's not you, it's me" line. Your best bet is to shy
away from pointing fingers and direct attention at the central issue: incompatibility.
Your side of the breakup is no picnic, but your girlfriend will undoubtedly take
the brunt of the impact. Trying on her shoes will give you insight about the
pain you will inflict and it might help you figure out how to cushion her fall.
As a bonus, empathy will also help you anticipate her questions and dodge
potential land mines.
Don't get into a fight
This conversation could push your girlfriend to the end of her fuse, regardless
of its length. If she loses her temper, keep yours. Attempts to provoke you may
take many forms -- accusations, insults, a thrown purse -- but your response
shouldn't waver. Listen to what she's saying, breathe, and whatever you do,
don't tell her to calm down. As your composure remains intact, the heat of the
moment will pass, as will her desire to kick you in the crotch.
Be prepared to cut off your speech
No matter how delicately you reveal your intention to call it quits, she might
get the picture before your finale and yearn to retreat to a pint of fudge ripple
. If this happens, don't chat her out the door. Understand that she's trying to
salvage the pieces of a shattered ego and doesn't want to be seen in a
compromised condition. She'll follow up if she needs closure, and rest assured,
she'll have the decency to hear you out.
Keep your distance
From the moment you go your separate ways, give her plenty of physical space.
(That means staying alert at your usual rendezvous spots to preempt awkward
encounters.) She'll use the time to analyze recent events, adjust to your absence
and potentially flush everything you ever gave her down the toilet.
However, the lines of communication should remain open. Correspondence should be
balanced, but fall short of giving her false hope.
Don't discuss your new relationship
After "It's over" has sunk in, your ex may seek clarification about what your
new roles entail. Of course, only time will tell if settling into the rhythm of
a friendship is feasible, so don't insist, "We can still be friends." Getting
back on speaking terms will be your first milestone, and it's easy to build
civility from there.
Friday, May 8, 2009
How To Handle Separation: Know what to say, Choose the right setting, Be honest, Avoid blame, Don't get into a fight
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