It can be tricky to end a short-term relationship -- you know you don't need to have a long, drawn-out discussion, but you don't want to leave the person without any explanation, either. While any break-up is bound to be somewhat uncomfortable, these guidelines will help you part ways in a respectful way that you can both feel good about.
Because no one likes to deliver bad news, it can be tempting to send a text or email, call or leave a message, let someone else pass the message on, or cut off contact with no explanation -- all in order to avoid an awkward conversation with the person you've been dating. Try to have a face-to-face conversation, says Elly Prior, a couples counselor and founder of the website Professional-Counselling. This lets your partner ask you any questions she might have, and express her feelings. In the end, she'll respect that you were brave enough to break up in person, and you don't have to feel shame about delivering the news in an insensitive way.
As hard as it is to be honest about your feelings, in the end, you're doing the other person a favor, notes an article on Match.com, reprinted from Cosmopolitan. Some people feel it's easier to always put the reason back on themselves. For example, you might say, "I'm just really busy right now and don't have time for a relationship," or "I'm not looking for a relationship right now." But by telling white lies, you deny the other person a chance for growth and reflection -- not to mention, you don't fully close the door on the relationship, giving the mixed message you might be available "down the road." For example, if your partner loves to spend weekends watching sports and you love reading and hiking in your spare time, it's OK to let him know you don't think you're compatible. Or, say he doesn't seem to value family the way you do. It's perfectly fine to mention that you always pictured yourself with someone more family oriented.
Have a Real Conversation
It's common to be unsure of how to go about having a breakup conversation. Your best bet is to speak gently and slowly, rather than blurting out every thought in your head, says Prior. Pause every now and then so the other person can process what you're saying. But don't let the conversation drag on too long, either -- if you've given your reasons and let your ex express his thoughts, then you can feel free to end things there. You're not obligated to explain yourself more than once, and if you feel like things are getting too emotionally charged, it's perfectly OK to wish him the best and make your exit.
Find Your Communication Style
Just as every individual is unique, so are communication styles. Words that may feel natural and right for you may make someone else uncomfortable to say, and vice versa. There are several scripts to go by when letting someone know you're not interested, said Dr. Erina Lee, a relationship research scientist, on her blog "The Science of Love" on eHarmony.com. She cited a 2010 study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships that polled participants as to how they would decline further dates, and noted the different ways they chose to break ties.
You can choose words that match your way of communicating: For example, a direct communication style could be phrased like this: "I can't go out with you." A style that is an explanation, could be phrased like this: "I'm not ready for a relationship yet." If someone wants to make an apology, that person might say: "I'm sorry, but...". A person who appreciates the thought might express it this way: "I'm flattered that you asked, but...". Someone who is concerned about the other person's reaction, might state: "I hope you don't take this too hard." A person who like to encourage others might say, "You're a really great person..." Lee also noted that while letting someone down can be difficult, you'll want to make sure you're respectful to the other person -- while still remaining consistent with who you are.
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