Break-Up Rules: My Proposal
Being on either side of a break-up (the one doing the breaking up or the one being broken up with) isn't exactly pleasant. But gleaning from past experience on both sides, I think there are some rules of propriety worth following:
- Voice mail or text message break-ups are never appropriate.
- After more than a few dates, the courtesy of an in-person break-up is warranted.
- Despite #2, an in-person break-up does not mean waste lots of hours on a date before doing the dirty deed.
- If at all possible, warn the other party. Tell him/her that you need to talk—that's a pretty good signal that something ominous is coming and prevents surprise.
- If you are going to do the breaking up by framing it in a "Where are we at in this relationship?" context, do not ask the other party what her opinion is before giving your own. This can only lead to embarrassment if she says she thinks it's going great and your response is something like, "Actually, I don't feel that way at all, and I don't think we should continue dating."
- Please, please, please do not do the breaking up in such a way that you then need to travel together afterward. Break up in a car. Or on the sidewalk in front of your apartment building. Or anywhere that does not mean you will have to spend more awkward time together.
- Make sure that all of each other's possessions are returned before the break-up. This prevents future awkwardness.
- Do not say that you still want to be friends. Maybe you'll end up being friends and that's really nice or maybe you won't and that's also OK. But the last thing someone wants to hear when they're being broken up with is, "I didn't really like you that much, but I sorta liked you." Also, because most of the time, at the moment you're being broken up with, the thoughts in your mind are something like, "Jerk. Jerk. Jerk. I never want to see this person ever again." And probably the person is not a jerk if you've dated him for long enough that an in-person break-up is warranted, but that's still what you're feeling in the moment, which is significantly different than wanting to be friends with him.