Breaking up. Just the phrase makes my heart pick up a little bit. It's the worst. But the funny thing is that from my experience, breaking up with someone is way harder than being broken up with. Now a lot of you who have only been on one end may say "but you've obviously never had your heart broken!" Or maybe there are some who have had both sides and just think it's easier to break up and protect your own heart. To the first, I say that that is simply not true, because I have been broken up with and had my heart broken. I do know that pain. And to the second: Yes, do you! If you think it's easier, then more power to you. But here's my take.
As someone who has broken up with more people than I've had people break up with me(I know, ouch), I can say it is much harder. Because when someone breaks up with you, you have that vindictive righteousness. You can go with your friends and they'll say "he was a jerk!" And you'll all eat ice cream and you can direct your anger somewhere very tangible. You can ask yourself where you went wrong and be assured by those around you that you didn't, anywhere. You have support and you have justified angst.(Note: I love the word angst. "Angst, angst, angst". Okay. Back to the emotions.)
But when you break up with someone-- all those feelings are there. Anger, sorrow, loneliness. But often without the support. I can't say how many times I've broken up with someone, then seen them have a hard time and think "I did that". You feel responsible, and you feel that anger that things didn't work out, but there's nowhere to put it. And on top of feeling all those things that the other person is feeling, you have the added responsibility of having hurt someone you care deeply for.
So yeah, breaking up is really hard. But learn from my mistakes, children! I'm here to give you a guide on how to break up with someone the best possible way. Because even if you feel crappy about it, at least you can make the other person feel "A Little Less Crappy"™.
1.Do it in person.
Guys. Girls. Please. This should be the most obvious one. Remember that breakups are not about you, because you're not the one being hurt. And I know, you don't want to see the hurt look on their faces, but let me be clear: Your comfort is not the main priority here. Can I repeat that? No? Well, get it in your head. The only time that it's acceptable is if you're long distance and won't actually see them for several months. And there's a reason for that. You could be blindsiding this person, so the least you could do is be there in person to explain yourself.
2. Don't drag it out.
Scenario time. You've been dating someone for about a month. Things started out great, but now things are decidedly "eh", with spatterings of "oh no what have I gotten myself into". But breaking up is uncomfortable! You don't want to be alone! What if you lose their friendship?! And so: You stay in that relationship for months after it's actually run its course, destroying any hope of a good clean break.
Listen, friends. If you know the relationship isn't working out, end it. End it. When you drag things past their time, feelings become more deep and complicated, and you're going to hurt the other person a lot more. And if you want to keep that friendship at any point in the future, I can guarantee that keeping a relationship afloat when you just want out is not going to help your case. I have done this, and this has happened to me, and it's not fun on either side, trust me.
This is also why breaking up over the phone is alright in the case of long distance. Not dragging it out is more important.
3. Make it personal. Think about what you're going to say.
Nothing is worse than sitting and listening to a spattering of cliches as you nurse a freshly broken heart. It makes you think, "okay, then what's really the reason they don't want to be with me?" Before you break up, think hard about the good and bad parts of the relationship. What did you love about the person? What was not so good? What ultimately made you feel that it was necessary to end things? Making a breakup personal makes the other person confident that you cared about them enough to tell them the truth. But when you're doing this, keep this very important rule in mind...
4. Above all, be kind.
It is important to tell the truth. But it is also important to be kind. They don't need to know all of their shortcomings laid out in painful detail. Let them know the things you enjoyed, and tell them the ways you two did not work together. Now is not the time to counsel them on what they did wrong. That is not your place anymore. Especially because there are probably things you could have done better as well. They're already hurting, and if you just tell them what they did wrong, they're not going to think, "oh, I'll work on that". They're just going to be hurt more. So be kind. There's no need for more damage.
5. Expect nothing.
This is the hardest part. Especially if you were dating a friend. Don't expect them to be friends with you again, don't expect them to forgive you, and don't expect any sort of closure. You're the one breaking up with the person, and that means that all of that is their decision. If they say they'd like to be friends again one day, unprompted, great! But don't push it. Give them time and space. I have been able to maintain some friendships out of breakups, but know that that is not normal, and it was always because we made sure to have space afterwards.
Even with all this fantastic advice, a breakup can go wrong. They might be angry, they might yell, they might go and gossip about you to their friends. Even with thinking about things beforehand, your words might fail you. Even when being kind and expecting nothing, you may find yourself hurting their feelings or desperately missing their friendship. So pray. Pray for wisdom and maturity, and for guidance in the right thing to do and say. Pray for peace and comfort for both you and the other person. Pray that God will teach you throughout the experience. You have nothing to lose by praying in this situation(all situations, really) and everything to gain. If you take nothing else away from this article, take this instruction to heart.
So there you go! A(not quite) foolproof method to break up with someone. I wish you all luck in your adventures for love and purpose(and maybe bagels). Don't be afraid to let your heart open up, but don't keep it open for business. The right person will come along for you. All you gotta do is wait. And if you do end up with someone who, oops, ends up not being the one? You(to an extent) know what to do!
P.S. Sarah's handy list of cliche's to NEVER say:
"God told me we should break up."
"It's not you, it's me."
"The Spirit is just leading us apart."
"I hope we can be friends!"
"Trust me, this is just as hard for me as it is for you."
"We're just on different paths right now."