Dear Lauren: If you realize you don’t like someone, should you tell them the moment you realize, or wait for an opportunity where it won’t mess up something important going in their lives?
One of my favorite quotes about relationships comes from a film that could never ever be categorized as a romance of any sort.
As Mia Wallace says in “Pulp Fiction” :
“That’s when you know you’ve found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.”
Strangely enough, I was a fan of the quote before I learned that Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece is one of my boyfriend’s favorite films. It never stops feeling oh-so refreshing to be in a balanced relationship.
Not that I’ve never had my heart stomped on, shattered, and other profane verbs that start with the letter “s.” I’ve been the dumper, dumpee, and “mutual” breaker-upper (seriously, you aren’t fooling anyone. A break up is never really okie-dokie on both sides.)
We never stop breaking up – Hell, even marriage isn’t the end-all-be-all of relationships anymore. And that’s OK! Can you imagine being trapped forever with your first elementary school “boyfriend” or “girlfriend?” My first “boyfriend” came out years after we decided we weren’t ready to commit to each other at the ripe old age of 11. Wouldn’t that have been a love story for the ages?
Which brings us back to you and your relationship revelation: Maybe the Facebook official relationship you jumped into isn’t as great as when you were just dating. Maybe the spark has fizzled out of a long-term relationship. Maybe you have a tiny voice in the back of your head you just can’t get to stop whispering, “Is this really what you want?”
Well, is it? Does the thought of making and keeping plans with this person make you anxious, not excited? Are you faking contagious illnesses to get out of making out? Can you two shut the fuck up and enjoy a comfortable silence?
Con-sad-ulations – it’s time to dump someone.
There is ABSOUTELY such a thing as break up etiquette. And to keep it simple, I’ve created a short acronym to keep in mind before any break up: D.U.M.P.
Do your research. Your question leads me to believe that something in your significant other’s life is taking precedence over your relationship. Maybe they have a family emergency, or are bogged down with schoolwork. Maybe they are having trouble with their mental health, other relationships, etc. A break up might just be what pushes them from emotional overdrive to fuck-my-entire-life status.
Good way to start a break up conversation: “I know you’re going through a lot right now (list some examples to show you care, even if you don’t want to continue a romantic relationship.) Focus on what will make your life most manageable.” Maybe they’ll put you on the back burner until their life settles, and then you can break up without “messing up” anything major.
Bad way to break up: “Sorry your dog just died. Also, I think we should see other people.”
Understand and empathize. Maybe your BF/GF saw a break up coming. Maybe it will totally blindside them. No matter what, they are going to have some kind of emotional response to the news that you don’t like them anymore.
If they start crying, the worst thing you can do is say, “Well, I better be going.” The least you can do is make sure your ex will spend the immediate post-break up time in good hands. Ask if they want you to stay with them to talk about why you want to end the relationship. Volunteer to call a friend for support. And most of all:
Make yourself the bad guy. Wait, what? You’re only breaking up with this person because they made themselves unlikeable, right?
No. Shut up. You’re an assclown.
“It’s not you, it’s me” is cliché and passé. Instead, use “I” statements to put the breakup in perspective for your now-ex. This leads into the next rule:
Provide a valid reason for the break up. Think of how your ex feels: You’ve been dumped. Your single, and you don’t want to be. You like someone who has stopped liking you. And you just don’t get it.
My worst break ups, the ones that tanked my self-esteem, kept me awake night after night, looped Taylor Swift song after Taylor Swift song, were the break ups where the guy just couldn’t answer “why?”
You might feel awful for the real reason, but you don’t have to sugar coat it. “I have a crush on someone else and want to pursue that relationship.” “I don’t feel chemistry with you anymore, and that’s really important to me in a relationship.” “I feel too much pressure being a boyfriend/girlfriend, and I really just want to be single.”
And if all else fails, think about how you’ve ended relationships in the past, or how exes broke up with you. Did someone try to pull out the “I promise we’ll stay friends!” line, then proceed to date one of your friends? Did you break up with someone via MySpace message, which your ex then printed and showed everyone in your high school and you couldn’t get a date until after prom?
You don’t get to stay in their Top 8 if you said, “forever and always,” but didn’t mean it, baby.