Breakup Etiquette

With St. Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is in the air everywhere you go. Unfortunately most relationships do not get a storybook ending. Breaking up is always messy business. Someone always gets hurt, but unless you’re a sadist you’re not supposed to like it. So what’s the best way to end it?

Cut off all ties
You don’t actually break it off… you just don’t contact them anymore. This can also involve blocking e-mail addresses, phone numbers and online ties like Facebook and MSN. This is a terrible way to go if you’re in an actual relationship. If you’ve had a couple of dates or a one-night-stand, you can probably get away with it. But would you want to? Any more than that and you’ll probably cause a devastating emotional blow to your ex. The only exception to the rule would be if you’re trying to escape from an abusive relationship. Conclusion: Cowardly and mean-spirited.

E-mail / SMS / Letter
You can drop the bad news in a letter. In print you can make a logical argument or get as nasty as you want without having to see or hear any of the fallout. After the deed is done you can block their e-mail address, or in the case of snail mail, “return to sender” and just walk away. Very classy.

Over the phone
This is generally acceptable if you’ve had a short relationship, measured in the weeks rather than months. You don’t have to deal with looking him or her in the eyes when you break the news which is easier on you, but the other person at least gets to interact with you. You can talk about why you want to break up; but, they’re going to ask some tough questions of you.

In person
You know this is the best way to break the news, but it’s the hardest. You have to look your lover in the eyes and tell him or her you don’t want to be with them anymore. There could be kicking and screaming, shouting and crying involved, and it could go on for hours. I’m sure you’d rather be sailing, but it’s one of those things that just has to be done. It’s a way of showing respect to the other person, although the breakupee probably won’t see it that way.

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