aish.com > Dating > Dating Advice

Dating Advice #38 - Break-Up Methodology

May 8, 2009 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

Sometimes you gotta say "bye-bye." But how do you do it without making the other person feel bad?

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I need to end my relationship. The woman I am dating does not seem very stable and I'm concerned for her mental health. Can I let her down easily?

Mike in Birmingham, Alabama

Dear Mike,

You've given us very little information to work with. Some people can never be let down easily precisely because they have extremely fragile personalities. However, a person who does not want to continue a courtship should not allow it to continue simply because he or she fears how the other person will react to a break-up. You've given us very little information to work with. Some people can never be let down easily precisely because they have extremely fragile personalities. However, a person who does not want to continue a courtship should not allow it to continue simply because he or she fears how the other person will react to a break-up.

The best way that anyone can end with someone they have dated for a while is:

  1. End the courtship in person, not by letter or telephone. (And certainly, not email!)

  2. Pick a private location to discuss the subject. Don't add to your date's humiliation by creating an opportunity for others to see their pain or tears.

  3. It is kind to mention some of the person's fine qualities, but don't feel you have to overly praise your date in order to soften the blow.

  4. If you give a reason for the break-up, base it on your own feelings rather than anything the other person did or didn't do.

  5. Don't give the other person an overly-lengthy explanation of why you are breaking up. It's not necessary, and it can make what you have to say more painful.

  6. Be unequivocal. Don't give the other person false hope that the two of you can date again at some time in the future, simply because you want to ease their pain.

  7. Don't flee after breaking the news. Even though you're ending things, you should express your concern for the other person's well being and future happiness, and make sure they're okay before you go off.

  8. Depending on where you are when you break the news and how your date reacts, it may be advisable to escort them home or call them a taxi afterward.

As long as you treat the person you have dated with respect and concern, there's little more than you can do to ease things. We hope that your parting is less troublesome than you fear it will be.

Rosie & Sherry



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