DEAR KELLY: What’s the best way to get out of a relationship without too much drama? I don’t want to hurt her feelings because our moms are friends, and I know we will see each other a lot in the future.
She really likes me, and I think she thinks it’s all good. But it’s just not there with us, and I’m kind of interested in someone else. I want her to see it’s a win-win for both of us.
DEAR RAY: Not sure it’s possible to get a win-win on this, but the goal would be to minimize the damage and do it in a way that shows respect and compassion for her feelings.
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There’s nothing wrong with deciding things just don’t click. Having chemistry with someone is not something we can force or fake. It just happens or it doesn’t. Being honest about your feelings in a mature way will reduce the drama and hopefully avoid negative feelings around the breakup. Sadness should be expected, but if you do it right, hatred and bitterness can be left out.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to treat her the way you would want to be treated if someone was ending a relationship with you. Think about how you would feel and how you would hope they would do it: with kindness, respect and honesty.
Whatever you do, don’t text or direct message her to break up. It may seem like a form of communication, but situations like this call for face-to-face conversation. Texting is the fastest way to deliver news but definitely not the most effective at avoiding drama.
Find a good time to meet and talk with her. Tell her you value her as a person and you think she is really fill-in-the-blank (funny, smart, silly, pretty, easy to talk to), but lately you have felt more like you guys are meant to be friends rather than in a relationship. Don’t blame her or point out the things that drive you crazy – it’s pointless and will only come across as hurtful.
If she doesn’t see this coming, she will probably be surprised and ask if something has changed or if she did anything wrong. Let her know that she didn’t do anything and nothing big changed, but the romantic feelings you were hoping to have for her just never happened.
If she gets angry, it’s part of the process. She’s just defending and guarding her feelings, and anger is an easy emotion to access when you are hurt. If she seems sad, be compassionate and kind. Offer a hug, text her to see if she’s OK later and remind her that she didn’t do anything wrong.
Give it a few weeks before you pursue anyone else. Jumping into another relationship quickly will seem disrespectful. Give the hurt a little time to heal so she doesn’t feel like you left her for someone else. When people feel scorned or betrayed, that’s when the drama starts. Be careful to not text the other person how you feel, in case they decide to show other people what you say and create a buzz around why you broke up.
Be careful also of giving her false hope that you will get back together. Using words such as, “I need space,” or, “It’s not a good time for me,” or, “I know I will regret this,” makes the other person feel like with a little bit a time, you may come back. Stand your ground and be firm in your decision.
And please, no social media about it. Social media is not an outlet for expressing personal feelings about someone or a relationship. Even if she (or her friends) tweets or posts, avoid responding or engaging. Getting into a Twitter war only brings out the worst in people and often things are tweeted in the heat of the moment that can make you look really class-less and immature.
Make sure you give your mom a heads-up in case the ex’s mom talks with her about her daughter’s feelings. Tell your mom what you say when you break up so she can be in the know on your reasons in case she is asked about it. If she is caught off guard, she may not be able to represent your feelings correctly, and she may believe whatever is told to her.
Breakups are not an experience anyone looks forward to, but they are a part of life and a necessary part of dating. It can be challenging to end a relationship without any drama or hurt feelings, but if you are honest, respectful and practice kindness, the odds are the hurt feelings are going to dissolve faster and the possibility of remaining friends with the other person are high.
Breakups aren’t fun, but they don’t have to be ugly or cause a scene if you handle your self maturely and treat the other person the way you hope someone would treat you.