In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, we often reflect on the dynamics of our own romantic relationships. The unfortunate reality of this holiday is that many people will conclude, after some thoughtful consideration, that their relationship is no longer what they want. With this comes the unfortunate burden of having to end things… right around the time of the most romantic holiday of the year. Woohoo!
Though the position is typically lauded as the lesser of two evils when it comes to a breakup, being the instigator is often harder than being the receiver. When ending a relationship, it’s important to find the right balance between honesty and kindness. If you’re too honest, you could say things that are hurtful; this isn’t productive and isn’t something that your soon-to-be-ex can learn from. If you try too hard to be nice, however, you risk leaving them with no explanation, or with the false hope that you might get back together.
The following 7 phrases should be avoided at all costs when trying to let someone down easy:
1. “I love you, I’m just not in love with you.”
Their first reaction to this one will likely be, ‘what the f**k does that even mean?’ It does make some sense – you care about them as a person but you don’t feel that spark that you should feel. Unfortunately, this sounds like an attempt to let them down easy gone wrong, and may leave them feeling friend-zoned or unattractive.
2. “I don’t know how to do relationships.”
Maybe you don’t have much experience in relationships, but if this was truly a good one, you’d try your best to figure it out. It sounds like a BS excuse; one that leaves them wondering: ‘what’s the real reason?’
3. “I met someone else.”
Unless you cheated during the relationship, don’t bring up other people you’re interested in. Maybe there’s someone who you feel a connection with, but if nothing has happened yet, don’t bring it up. This will hurt your future ex in a needless way.
4. “What if we did a friends-with-benefits sort of thing?”
Attempting a friends-with-benefits relationship after a breakup is almost never a good … and certainly not a good one to bring up during the breakup itself. Depending on how your partner takes it, it could be really hurtful, suggesting that you still want the sex but are just aren’t interested in them as a person.
5. “I’m going to miss you.”
This immediately begs the question, ‘well then why are you breaking up with me…’ While it may be genuinely true that you’ll miss them, in the moment of the breakup this only serves to make the situation more upsetting for everyone. It could also be perceived as you just trying to sugarcoat the situation to avoid conflict.
6. “You’re going to be so much happier without me”
Again, this sounds like utter BS, with the only appropriate response being an extremely sarcastic ‘oh, then thank you for doing me this favor!’ Avoid condescension at all costs, as you don’t want to reaffirm the notion that you’re in a superior position to them.
7. “It’s not you, it’s me”
And lastly, the infamous classic. This is honestly not a bad sentiment, and should shape the overall tone of your discussion, but this phrase just sounds like you’re twisting the knife and trying really hard not to make it hurt. It’s a classic for a reason, though, so don’t forget to focus the conversation away from things they’ve done wrong (unless, of course, it was extremely clear that they did something wrong and they would benefit from knowing about it for future relationships).
It won’t be easy, but if you feel that you really aren’t invested in the relationship anymore, then you’re doing the right thing by ending it. Although not as important as the actual conversation, don’t forget to think about logistics as well. Do they have your stuff? Do they have keys to where you live? Are you about to sit through a long event together? Keep all of these in mind, because nothing could be worse than breaking up before a long plane ride together. Seriously, nothing.