/we don’t know your name, so tonight you are Martin/
Hope you’re doing well so far. And hopefully, after reading what’s coming, you will feel even better! Or at least you will gain some new perspective and a clear idea of how to go about your situation.
So here’s your Challenge:
“I want to break up with my girlfriend.
We have been together for around half a year. In the beginning, it was really nice and we had a good way with each other; we still do, but I haven’t developed any deeper feelings towards her. I like her as a person and I still like to spend time with her but the feelings are simply not there.
I told her how I feel and I was trying to break up with her but she insisted that we should try again. I agreed and I tried but it actually got worse. Currently, I am at the point where most of the things she does start to annoy me. Even a simple text from her with “How is your day going?” irritates me. I ended up with having resentment towards her.
Now I am afraid to break up with her because I don’t want to hurt her and I don’t want to see her suffering. She starts to cry whenever I mention that we should go our separate ways. I don’t know what to do; I am even considering breaking up with her over Messenger.”
So listen up dear, you’ve got 5 options (well, technically you’ve got an infinite number of options but just to make it easier for you, we have chosen 5). Are you ready? Here we go!
And Your Options are:
- Do nothing and Hope for The Best
- Take a break
- Be an Asshole: Full-Scale Sabotage
- Hit and Run: Deploy the Message and Disappear
- End the relationship with love and integrity
OPTION 1: Do nothing and hope for the best
Well, in your case, ‘the best’ means “the situation will solve itself somehow” and as weird as it sounds, sometimes it works.
I personally know a couple of people who use this approach; they wait for the external circumstances or “so-called destiny” to solve the upcoming problems for them.
Maybe tomorrow your girlfriend will meet “the love of her life” and leave you voluntarily.
Maybe she will have a sudden revelation and realize that the relationship doesn’t work for her either.
Maybe you will get a surprise promotion at work and your employer will send you to South America so things between the two of you will fall apart naturally (unless she decides to follow you).
Or maybe a meteor will strike Earth tomorrow and none of this will really matter anymore.
Pros: You literally don’t have to do anything – no effort, no difficult conversations ahead, no uncomfortable crying scenes. You just sit back and wait for some sort of solution created by random external factors.
Cons: You are still in the same, uncomfortable situation and chances are your frustration and resentment will grow even more over time. But what is more, you give away control over your own life. Instead of making conscious decisions about your relationship and well-being you just slide from one day to the next, which puts you in the position of a passive observer of your own life who is waiting for things to be solved. Magically
OPTION 2: Take a break
Many see “taking a break” as a mid-point on the road to a final break-up, but it can have the opposite effect as well.
Breaks can give you the necessary space and time to re-evaluate your relationship and to see clearly how you feel about your partner once she is not present in your daily routine. Who knows, maybe after a couple of days you’ll notice that you miss the once-so-annoying “How is your day going?” message. Sometimes we need just a bit of distance to see things clearly again.
If, however, you are convinced that taking a break will not change anything on your side, don’t use it as an “easing up the final break up” strategy.
I had a friend who tried to end a relationship by using the “let’s have some space and time to think about the future of us” excuse, hoping that the girl’s interest in the relationship would decline over time and “things would die out naturally”.
On the contrary, she was even more determined to fight for the survival of the couple because the “break”, “space and time” and “some distance” slogans made her feel like there was still hope – otherwise, he would just break up, right?
So bear in mind that the effect could be quite the opposite. People on a break – the ones that don’t want to end the relationship – tend to get more hopeful about the future, thinking “he will realize that what we have is special”, “she will miss me and see how great I am” etc. It is a basic psychological mechanism that is supposed to ease up the waiting and make it more bearable.
Don’t forget, hope dies last:
Pros: If you still have doubts or pending issues that you would like to think through, a break can be a wonderful opportunity to do so. You can gain perspective and evaluate how you really feel about your relationship. You may even realize that it is worth giving it another shot.
Cons: If you are absolutely sure that the break won’t change anything, you would only be unnecessarily prolonging your partner’s suffering. The time you contributed for a “break” could have been used by your girlfriend for getting over you, getting on with her life, healing or even meeting someone else. Don’t rob people of their time unless you know you can compensate for it in a valuable way.
OPTION 3: Be an asshole: Full-scale sabotage
Firstly – it works; not always of course but in most cases.
All you have to do is to sabotage the relationship up to the point where the other person leaves voluntarily. Main tactics here are: cheating (either actual or so-called “staged-cheating” – you are not really unfaithful but you give your partner the impression that you are or that you are up for it), the silent treatment/ignoring your partner’s attempts to get in contact or communicate, disrespectful/taking-for-granted type of behaviour… Anything you could imagine that would drive your current partner away will basically do. And most times – excluding the cases of really dependent partners, who regardless of the suffering they’ve endured, are still deciding to continue the relationship – you will manipulate your girlfriend in to breaking up with you.
But be aware, not only are you burning a bridge to a possible friendship in the future but you also risk putting an ugly tone on the entire relationship, including the good times you shared.
You can hurt someone really badly in the process not only by providing a nightmarish ending but also by putting a shadow on value and meaning of the entire experience of being in your company.
Pros: Effective. Plus, if you manage to go through “What has happened with you and why do you act like that” phase, you won’t have to go through explanations at the actual break-up as she will be the one leaving. And most probably she will be VERY explicit about the reasons. If you manage to go through the “hell hath no fury” scene, risking being cursed at or punched in the process, by the end of the day not only will you be free – you may also never hear from her again.
Cons: Before you start to consider this option, answer yourself the following question: Are you ready to become an anti-hero of someone’s love life? Do you want to be remembered as “full-blooded asshole?” If you are ready for such heavy repercussions then maybe this is “your solution” indeed. Be ready, however, to find out that there is a voodoo doll of you somewhere out there or someone is giving you a very bad rep. On a more serious note, please remember that ugly break-ups are leaving the ugliest scars as well – and the causalities are always on both sides.
OPTION 4: Hit and run: Deploy the message and disappear
The hit and run strategy; highly effective way of breaking up, chosen mainly by people who don’t have the guts or patience to deal with the break-up aftermath.
You leave a simple and clear message that it’s over and then you disappear.
Literally, disappear – you remove your ex from all social media, block the phone number and carry on with “reverse stalking” (learning someone’s routine in order to avoid them). If you have the chance to move to another country or city – now is the time! It is equivalent to: “I’m leaving you at the alter” note and running away from the ceremony couple of minutes before the church bells start to ring.
Pros: Fast and effective, plus you avoid the uncomfortable discussions or dramatic scenes. No tears (at least not for you to witness), no explanations and no difficult conversations. You literally disappear from your partner’s life altogether and you don’t need to worry about anything else (at least in the short term). For her this may turn out beneficial as well; we all know that “out of sight out of mind” tends to be quite effective.
Cons: She may find you; she may get you and boy… that can turn out pretty “graphic”. On a serious note, that kind of solution is usually associated with people who either lack courage or class. We like to think that a “real man” should take his decision “on the chin” – including all the unpleasant consequences. Additionally, while ending a relationship, the side that is being abandoned needs some sort of closure – an explanation or final answers. Taking that opportunity away from her could amplify the hardship of the break up even more; as some say, what haunts us the most are the unanswered questions.
OPTION 5: End the relationship with love and integrity
I won’t lie, this is probably one of the most difficult – if not the most difficult – ways to end a relationship.
It requires courage, honesty, patience and last but not least – empathy. And on top of that, it can turn out pretty dramatic and it doesn’t necessarily provide instant gratification or an automatic “feel good” vibe. But you know what? This is an option that in the long run will turn out to be emotionally the healthiest – both for her and for you.
While breaking-up we tend to focus on our own feelings and emotions only – that’s why it’s so easy to become self-involved, defensive and even aggressive. Let’s pause here for a second – even if you say that you don’t know how to go about it because you don’t want her to suffer or cry, the chances are that in reality what you don’t want is FOR YOU to feel personal discomfort caused by the fact that she suffers.
Think about it, if you considered ending the relationship over Messenger just to avoid seeing her hurt/cry it means you are aware that this is how she will feel but you just don’t want to cope with it. Well, I have some unfortunate news for you – regardless of how you decide to end your relationship, she will suffer. And you will feel discomfort. It’s a break-up after all and that’s a given.
If you accept this thought – that some extent of suffering is an integral part of the experience – you can focus on how to end it while handling both pain and discomfort in the most loving and respectful way.
Be brave and have a face to face talk. Instead of focusing on “how bad it can go” shift your attention to the fact that this is your “goodbye meeting” and try to make the best out of it.
Be honest about your feelings. Don’t try to “invent reasons” or justifications regarding why you don’t feel about her the way you should. Once you start to do it she will automatically try to figure out what she could have done better/differently and respond with propositions of changes (“I can improve this”, “I can work on that”) in order for you to stay – it’s a standard “psychology of the breakup”. Feelings are quite difficult to explain; sometimes we meet great people and yet we feel no attraction towards them and then an asshole comes along and we lose our head completely. You need to be clear that your feelings towards her have nothing to do with things she has or hasn’t done.
Prepare yourself for an emotional storm and once you’re in it, sit through it. This too shall pass.
I don’t ask you to “feel” her pain or disappointment, but rather to understand that she is entitled to go through all sorts of emotions and that it is perfectly normal and fine. Whatever unpleasant accusation, situation or scene you witness, don’t take it too personally. We tend to lose our nerve while upset, angry or despaired and in a twisted way that’s the beauty of being human Don’t engage in a fight and don’t “strike back” with arguments – remember why you are here in the first place – not to “win” or defend yourself but to end the relationship in the most constructive way possible.
Express that you feel sorry for her suffering but don’t dwell on it too much– you have no control or responsibility for her own emotions and whatever she feels, it’s hers to bear. The only way to make her “happy” now is to continue the relationship and this is not something you are up for.
Emotional break-ups, especially the “crying and begging” types, can trick you into reconsidering your decision. Don’t fall for it; ending a relationship with love also means “with love towards self”. You cannot make someone happy by being unhappy so please take care of yourself.
Clichéd lines like “You deserve better”, “There’s someone out there for you”, “It’s not you, it’s me“ can be dangerous, for the sole reason that they are clichéd and over the millennia of break-ups they were over/misused – even if they were actually true. If you want to send a positive message, express your gratitude for the time spent together and wish her well, but do it like you mean it.
Pros: You will do “the right thing”. Being honest with yourself and with your partner is the highest form of respect you can pay, taking into consideration the difficult circumstances. Your conscience will be clear and your partner will receive a proper closure (at the beginning she may not appreciate it, but when some time passes I’m almost certain she will appreciate it).
Cons: Difficult, potentially dramatic and emotionally demanding. Requires mental preparation, self-control, and thoughtfulness and yet it can end up very upsetting for both partners.
To sum up…
… ending a relationship is a skill; a skill that we all have to learn if we plan to have relationships in a first place.
As much as we would wish everyone to find their “one and only” on their first go, let’s just agree that a fairy tale option is rarely the reality. We will fall in love, we will create relationships and yeap… we will end most of them.
A wise man once said: “You learn the most about your partner after the relationship is over” so let’s all strive to be better partners – in our relationships and when they are over.
Anna & Marta