If you’ve been reading You’re A Grown Man for any length of time, you know that I often write on the complexities of relationships. I’ve written on being bold enough to ask a girl out, and on my own tragic (but apparently amusing to you heartless people) experience of being dumped. However, it occurred to me recently that I’ve never addressed an important issue that all Grown Men should be prepared for — how to end a relationship properly. We’ve gotta get this one right, guys.
For this post, I’m going to skip answering the question: should you break up with her? The reason for this is because there are simply too many scenarios to adequately say yes or no without a trillion “what-if’s.” Everyone has got reasons for the relationship ending — some of them valid, some of them ridiculous. In the end, it’s really your call, and I’m not going to be the one to stop you from tossing aside the best woman you’ll ever meet just because she’s not super stoked about touring the country with your death-metal band. Where I will start, however, is under the assumption that you know you’re done and trying to figure out how to properly end it. Let’s do this bullet point style…
-Rip the Band-Aid off: When you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach and you know, I mean really — you know it’s going to end — you’ve got to muster up every ounce of courage you have and not let the relationship go one moment longer than it needs to. The reason is simple — she deserves it. The day you started dating, oh that fateful day, you entered a non-verbal but very binding contract to be straight-up, brutally, honest with each other.
Grown Man, I didn’t do anything of the sort! Straight-up, brutally, honest? You’re a girl, aren’t you – I mean, c’mon.
Yes, you did enter a contract. It’s called dating, and it’s what’s expected of you. You may not have realized it, but I can guarantee you that she did. I’m not talking about love, marriage or anything else. I’m simply saying that honesty in every relationship is a non-negotiable. Having said that, the moment you’re done with the relationship but haven’t yet informed her, you’re breaking the contract. And before the comments start flowing, yes, she owes you the same courtesy.
-Face it: I know you want to phone-in the break up, don’t you? Isn’t it so much easier to just pick up the phone, not have to make eye-contact, and do the deed? Even if the conversation lasts four hours, at least you can get your Farmville on while she’s asking you questions like, “Sooooo, [sniffle] when you said for[sniffle]ever, what did that mean?” Ouch.
The truth is, phone, text, email, carrier pigeon, or any other non face-to-face option for breaking up is wholly unacceptable. You owe it to her to be a man and have the difficult conversation in person. Not only does it scream of class, but it’s respectful and polite. I don’t have a fantastic justification for the “why” of this point, but I know she’s worth, at least, you putting yourself through the discomfort of taking on the chin and facing it.
-Get in and get out: You must absolutely end the relationship in an efficient manor. As a rule, you get one hour of break up time per year of dating. And yes, I am saying that a 6 month relationship should be ended in 30 minutes. Why? Not because it’s easy for you. In fact, I wish you had to go through some multi-level purgatory for breaking that girl’s heart. This rule exists to keep you all from going to the fight-zone and saying things that you’ll both regret. When we (we=animals) get hurt, we fight. When we fight, we hurt more — it’s a bad cycle.
When you’re ending the relationship, give her concrete reasons that aren’t hurtful about why you’re ending it, don’t attack her character, and when it’s appropriate, get the heck outta there. She’s going to be upset (or maybe she’ll be grateful!) and you’re both going to be hurt. It’s important that you realize that going through that hurt together is a disaster waiting to happen.
-Follow the rules: When you’re out of the relationship, you’re out of it. Don’t text that night saying crap like, “I miss you” or “Farmville rules!” It’s only going to lead her on and make you look like you’re waffling. Just like you’re done dating her, she needs to be allowed the space to be done dating you. I’m not kidding on this one. If you guys say, “We’re not going to talk for a month,” stick to it. If you don’t, you’re just extending the discomfort and breaking the rules.
Gentlemen, it’s okay to break up with someone. In fact, it’s likely the most respectful thing you can do in the long run for a woman who you realize won’t be your wife. However, you’ve got to approach breaking up like (I hope) you approach everything else: with mutual respect and humility.
You’re a Grown Man, break up with class.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask them. I might just answer them on this weeks Ask a Grown Man, Vol: XI!