We’d like to believe that the best way to break up with a person is to sit down with them face-to-face and have an honest, open discussion about why you feel the relationship should no longer continue. After a calm, mature discussion, you will both come to the amicable conclusion that the relationship isn’t working for either of you. You’ll share a friendly hug, and part ways saying, “I’m so glad we’re still friends.”
Can someone tell me on what planet this actually happens? I’d like to go there. It sounds tranquil and civilized.
Every relationship I’ve ever been in, with MAYBE a few exceptions, has ended with a cataclysmic scene. Even the ones where we agreed to the aforementioned amicable break-up scenario ahead of time didn’t end that way. There was always crying, shouting, and throwing things. Histrionics of epic proportions, if you will.
Having been dumped by every means possible, I’ve come to the conclusion that face-to-face is the worst way to end a relationship.
Maybe I’m not mature enough. Maybe the guys I’ve dated aren’t mature enough. Maybe there was way too much passion for things to just fizzle out and allow us to part ways like rational adults – love makes you do crazy things. I’ve yet to truly experience the “it was mutual” outcome. I don’t even believe it exists. Generally one person has one foot out the door before the other even has a clue but regardless whether you see it coming or not, this face-to-face plan has some serious potential pitfalls.
I’d argue, knowing its controversial, that the phone is your best bet. Here’s why.
I don’t want to see you. You’re about to break my heart in a million tiny pieces, betray my trust, and basically tell me something I don’t want to hear. I don’t want to see your face because at that moment I’m going to hate it. It’s much easier to take the news if we remove all the non-verbal communication because your body language and delivery are crucial to my response and, more than likely, you’re going to screw it up. If you’re awkward and fumbling your words, you’re just going to make me feel uncomfortable. And see, you dumping me is already uncomfortable. Let’s not make it any worse. If you’re coming off as an inconsiderate ass, I’ll probably be even more hurt and start wondering why I cared about you in the first place. Just FYI, once that moment where I doubt my decision making abilities passes, I’ll probably want to punch you in the face. Bottom line, pick up the phone.
I also don’t want YOU to see ME. If I’m madly in love with you and you’re completely blindsiding me, this is going to be a mess regardless. Having this discussion over the phone allows me to preserve some semblance of my dignity. I can simply say, “ok, well… I wish you all the best,” hang up, throw up, and dissolve into a puddle of tears on the floor. And I’m not talking your standard everyday crying. I’m talking about the mouth-wide-open/eyes-squeezed-shut/hyperventilating/convulsing/drooling-all-over-yourself kind of sobbing that inevitably accompanies a breakup you never saw coming. No one needs to see that! I’m about to lock myself in my room for days and just lay there in the fetal position near comatose on the floor. Hey, it happens! But I certainly don’t need you to know anything about it because then how will I maintain my carefully-crafted-everything-is-great-since-we-broke-up status updates and Facebook photo charade?
Location, location, location. The problem is that there is no good place to get dumped. Wherever you do it will forever be tainted by this unrealistically mature conversation we’re about to have. There are numerous locations I still can’t go back to, even years later, because they’re the “scene of the crime” so to speak. So where do you do it? Do you invite me over to your place and dump me there? How does that work? Do you deliver the message calmly and then ask me to leave? Because it’s not as simple as escorting me to the door. It may require a police escort. Do you come over to my place and dump me on my own turf so I can think, “oh that’s the spot where he looked me in the eye and ripped my heart out of my chest” every time I sit on my couch? That’s just rude. If you opt for someplace neutral like a public park or bar, now I’ve got an audience watching me fall apart. Thanks for the public humiliation.
Lie to me. That whole “honest” part of the “honest face-to-face conversation” you’re planning to skillfully execute when you break up with me is a bunch of crap too. Do me a favor, lie. I don’t want to know the real reasons you don’t want to date me anymore. No one wants to know that. I lie to people on a daily basis. I even lie to myself. Why? Because it makes everyone feel better. It’s bad enough you’re dumping me. Now you’re going to add insult to injury by being completely honest? No, thank you.
See if you dump me over the phone, not only is there less risk of hysterics, violence, and a potentially awkward exit, you don’t have to look me in the eye while you give me a plausible but vague excuse as to why you can’t date me anymore and thanks to modern technology and cell phone portability, I get to choose where I get dumped. This may not seem like the optimal method for ending a relationship, but trust me, it’s actually a fairly considerate thing to do. Plus my living room and the local bar, where they serve amazing margaritas, will continue to be my sanctuaries and I’ll definitely need a place that won’t remind me of you. Especially when I start seeing other people.
Kate’s Dates is a column that runs every other Wednesday on Kate-book.com. It is written by the lovely Kate Richlin-Zack, who fully admits to majoring in engineering to meet guys. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.