There’s no great way to put it. You had a go at being together, and it isn’t working out. It may be over, but you owe it to your nearly ex-partner (and yourself) to be considerate. Angry, indifferent, or bittersweet, there are certain codes of conduct that should apply to every parting of ways.
Don’t Wimp Out
If you’re on the aggressive side of a breakup, the very least you can do is show up. That means no emails, no voicemails, no letters, and absolutely, indisputably, and unequivocally, no text messages. Some purists like to extend this edict to rule out phone calls as well, but honestly, sometimes a simple call is easiest for both parties. Most of us don’t really need to stare into the eyes of our soon-to-be exes. Whichever execution you choose, breakups should at least have the potential to be a two-way conversation. And that’s really best for everyone because that single conversation may be the closest to closure either of you get.
Don’t Drag it Out
Once you know it’s over, don’t wait for the right moment. It will never happen. You might have saintly intentions in the short-term, but your procrastination will be twice as cruel once your partner realizes they were the only one manning the relationship in the end. Breakups are hard. Do it anyway. When there’s no turning back, a quick and decisive break is best for both of you.
Don’t Take Cheap Shots
You’ll leave them feeling lousy — not only for getting dumped, but for caring about such a jerk in the first place. It may seem like science fiction now, but some day you might appreciate a friendship with this person. At the very least, you don’t want any chance encounters to come to blows. But while humanity and compassion are perfectly viable reasons not to stoop so very low, the best reason is a selfish one. Whoever they are and whatever they’ve done, their flaws can’t excuse yours. You owe it to yourself to maintain your character. Regardless of the circumstances now, you cared about this person once. That’s yours, and one day you may want to remember that fondly.
Softening the blow with euphemisms may get you out of telling them about their halitosis, but laying blame where it doesn’t belong won’t cut it. For instance, don’t claim their thoughtlessness did them in, when it was really your steamy neighbor. They won’t understand why their most romantic overtures can’t win you back. While telling them their stories put you to sleep isn’t particularly helpful (someone else may find those snoozers fascinating), chalking up a split to their busy schedule won’t work either. Most of the reasons behind a breakup can be filed under information that doesn’t help anyone, but fiction is never the answer. Keep things vague if you must — just keep your sense of reality.
Put your sensitivity to good use, but hold the pity. Do your S.O. the favor of letting them escape as a whole and undamaged person in your eyes. You very well may be the best thing that ever happened to them, but they don’t have to know that you know that. As with all breakup rules of conduct, the guiding principle here is that both parties are treated as independently loveable individuals who just aren’t going to work out together.
Don’t Rush a Friendship
Hopefully, the two of you part ways civilly and can put your knowledge of and respect for each other to use in a future friendship. Key word being future. Don’t confuse things by spending time together too soon. Even if you’re the exception — even if you’re really, truly, utterly certain you can handle it. The rebound friendship spells doom. You need at least three months apart before you can try building (or returning to) a platonic relationship. Give each other some space, then you can trust you’ve given your friendship a fair chance.
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