Once upon a time, I had a close friend give me some advice that, at the time, resonated loud and clear with me. It’s also stuck with me since then. The message was this – if you believe in fate and ‘finding the one,’ then you need to go into every relationship scenario with expecations that match your ideals. That means that if you date 100 people, you should expect that 99 of them will fail. Pessimistic? That depends on your mindset. Nevertheless, that means anyone who’s been dating for a while will have a lot of people to break things off with over the course of their ‘dating life.’
But what’s the protocol for breaking up with people, even if you were never actually dating? Or what if you were kinda dating but never really defined if you were exclusive or not – then what?
Well, here’s my best effort at defining the appropriate behavior for ‘breaking things off,’ depending on the length of time you’ve been dating.
2-4 weeks – Do nothing. Whether you’re the girl ignoring the phone calls or you’re the guy who’s not making them, it’s the right thing to do. On it’s face it seems impolite, but it’s far more natual than having an awkward ‘breakup conversation’ with someone that you were never actually dating to begin with.
1-2 months – Preferably not a text message. Pick up the damn phone. I know it’s 2012 but you’re also a step ahead of cro magnons on the evolutionary chain, so let’s be grown-ups about this and act like hominids. If you made it to this point then chances are you were headed toward a relationship, at least in someone’s eyes. In a best case scenario, it’s happening for both of you. If it’s not, then start dialing; you owe them that much. Also not to be ruled out? Fly-over airplane break-up advertisements, like the ones you see on South Beach, FedEx packages with an explanation letter and a parting gift, or…yeah, stick to a phone call.
More than that – In person – and bring a weapon. These conversations are so hard to have because you more than likely care a lot about this person, but not enough for it to be pursued further. Nevertheless, this is the only acceptable way to do it. And once the initial feelings of hurt or anger wear off, the other person will be appreciative of your personal, human gesture.
So why the weapon? Well, when someone is at their worst, you see their true colors. And if things start to go south, then you’re allowed to use your weapon. I know breaking up is hard, but if my life is ever in danger, I will gladly take yours in its place and write it off as collateral damage.
But hopefully it doesn’t get that far.
David Berry is a Miami-based copywriter who has delivered writing solutions for a wide set of clients with a diverse range of needs. From books (fiction and non-fiction) to blogs, feature stories and everything else in between, he’s written for restaurants and retail clients, hotel chains, cosmetics companies, universities and more, as well as magazines, Fortune 500 companies and numerous entrepreneurs.
Berry has an MBA from Florida International University and draws passion for his craft from a wide base of interests, as he’s also a NASM certified personal trainer, former stand-up comedian, and volunteer, having won Miami Children’s Hospital’s 2011 Volunteer of the Year award while raising more than $100,000 for the hospital’s Radio Lollipop program.