Etiquette of Breaking Up, Single Senior Style

Etiquette of Breaking Up, Single Senior Style

 Breaking up is hard to do politely. The duration of the committed relationship does affect how much someone is going to be hurt. Certainly rejection isn’t fun whether you’ve been together three months or three years. Here are a few of my “Rules of Etiquette for Breaking Up.” The “breaker” is the one initiating the end of the relationship. The “breakee” is the one who doesn’t know. Sometimes she or he has no clue.

  1. Do it in person. Not on the phone, not in an email, not in a text message. The latter two can be poured over in too much detail. It’s easier for people to read concern in person’s face. The breaker must have courage and Man or Woman up.
  2. Do it as soon as you realize it has to happen. It doesn’t serve the breakee well to string him or her along. The breaker is afraid to inflict pain. The breakee may know something is wrong, but rationalizes it away if you stick around.
  3. Make it a clean break. You may be able to stay friends, but it’s best to give the breakee a little time to heal.
  4. Don’t date the breaker or the breakee’s friends or relatives.
  5. Unless it’s mean, the breaker should tell the breakee what went wrong. People can’t change their attitudes or behaviors unless they’re aware of it. I am not taking about a “blame game.” Rather, if the breaker cannot handle the controlling nature of the breakee, best to say so. If the breakee was always complaining, say so.  If the breakee is a poor lover, and you communicated the problems all along, there’s no need to reiterate it. One date reported to me that his last breaker said he was the worst lover she’d ever had. That was an unnecessary shot below the belt.
  6. If you’re breaking up with someone for a physical reason they can’t change, keep it to yourself. If the breaker just thinks he or she can do better, it’s best to just say it didn’t work out.
  7. The breakee should not wail, sob, or plea. That is to be done with friends later. Quiet crying is appropriate.
  8. If the breaker is experiencing personal difficulties, he or she doesn’t have to get into the details but does have to take on the responsibility.
  9. Many times breakups happen because of adult children. One partner can’t stand the way the other coddles or criticizes his/her own or the other’s children. If you choose to share that, it will put the breakee in a defensive mode. It may be better to say that the two of you have different and incompatible adult parenting styles.
  10. The breaker should call the breakee a week later to ask about their well being and thank them for the good part of the relationship.

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