Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Don't Break Up- Break EVEN!*

* Cheesy pun intended.

Here's some more world-famous Neko Relationship Advice. Nothing in particular inspired this, except for the paucity of reasonable advice about breaking up. Oh, sure. Advice columnists love to wax poetic about starting relationships and maintaining relationships, and even repairing relationships, but no one has too much to say about ending them. So here's my take on the whole deal. Notice I didn't say here's my reasonable advice. I'm not really sure if it is reasonable or not. It's just how I would like to be broken up with, not that it has ever happened like this. Or probably ever will. 'Cause the people I hook up with tend not to read this kind of stuff.

NOTE- This advice in no way pertains to people who feel they are in an abusive relationship, or who fear violence from their partner. If you are being abused, you don't owe anyone anything. Do whatever you feel you need to do to keep yourself safe. Really.

When you decide to end a relationship, it can be hard to know what to do. Emotions are running high, and often, people just make things worse when they try to make a graceful exit from a relationship. So, below are a few things you can do to help smooth the transition for yourself, and your soon-to-be-ex-partner.

A few helpful definitions- the following are terms I will be using:

Dump- This is what you are doing, really. You are dumping your partner. Aren't comfortable with this term? Good. You shouldn't be. Don't try to sugarcoat this. Believe me, it only backfires in the end.

Dumper, AKA "Bad Guy"- That would be you, at least from your partner's perspective. Get used to it.

Dumpee, AKA "Victim"- That would be your partner. This is how they see things.

Committed Relationship- If you have been with your partner for a few months or more, if you live with them, if you or they have used the word "committed", "serious", "exclusive", or "monogamous" to describe your relationship, if you have made big purchases/decisions together, etc., you have a committed relationship. If none of this applies, you have a casual relationship, and a quick good-bye phone call should be enough.

OK. Now we've established some definitions. Let's get to it, shall we?

1. Think before you leap. Nothing is worse than having the drama of a dumping, only to have the dumper come slithering back in a few hours/days/weeks begging forgiveness. If you are the dumper, this makes you look bad. If you are the dumpee, it makes you go through a lot of needless heartbreak. Either way, it doesn't do good things for trust in the relationship. A committed relationship, is,by definition, something both partners have invested some time and energy into, so be sure you really want to end things before you go through with it. You've been together for a while, what could a few more days or weeks hurt? Once you've made up your mind, don't waver.

2. Plan Ahead. If you live together, think about what the arrangements are going to look like post-dumping. If you live at your partner's place, have another place ready. If you both co-own or lease, have some contingency worked out to sublease, or be prepared to buy out their interest/sell out your interest. If it is your place, make sure you give your partner reasonable time to find someplace new. If you co-own things, have an idea of how to divide things up. Remember, it is you who is electing to leave. therefore, if there is any hardship to be borne, YOU should bear it.

3. Be direct and honest. Don't beat around the bush. Hopefully, you and your partner have been communicating about the relationship, so this dumping shouldn't come as a total shock. If not... it WILL come as a total shock to them. Be prepared for this. Know exactly why you are leaving. Don't say "I don't know." Don't lie. If another person is involved, tell your partner-- they will usually find out at some point anyway, and it's better they hear it from the horse's mouth. Be ready to answer questions. Your partner will likely have some. Again, you need to be firm. If you waver, you just make things harder.

4. Expect drama. The dumpee is going to have an opinion about what you are doing. they will usually express this opinion through crying, yelling, pleading, etc. That's OK. They deserve to have this chance to respond. You need to be ready for this, and you need to accept it. If they veer into the violent or crazy, get the heck out of there. If they don't, be patient, and take it. From their perspective, you deserve it. You are either going to hear it now, or hear it later. You might as well get it over with, and give them a chance to vent. Don't tell them you are sorry, don't tell them you don't want to hurt them, etc. You have weighed your emotional well-being against theirs, and decided yours was more important. You are entitled to make that call, but don't be patronizing about it.

5. Never, ever be "just friends". Ex lovers do not good friends make. It just keeps false hope alive, or continues the friction that necessitated the dumping in the first place. No, if you dump someone, you can't really qualify as a "friend". Maybe, after time has passed, and both parties have moved on, a cordial relationship can be re-established, but don't bet on it. Old hurts die hard.

6. No mercy fucks, last flings, etc. Again, when it is over, its over. Don't call them looking for love on a lonely night, don't accept calls from them looking for love. It never works out well.

Having a relationship end sucks, but you don't have to. Treat the other person LIKE a person, expect some unhappiness, and move forward decisively. One day, they'll thank you for it, and you will too.