The Art of Letting Them Down Gently

The Art of Letting Them Down Gently


tumblr_n3ttpb3sFJ1st5lhmo1_1280We all have different needs, wants and desires. It’s difficult to find that perfect person and to develop an initial spark into a solid partnership. The search for your someone will likely be a case of trial and error. Lots of trial and error. Not everyone is made to match and there will inevitably come that moment when you know a relationship has nowhere left to go. It may be really early on within the first few dates or it may be after a few months.

Once you know that you’re no longer emotionally or physically invested in taking an acquaintance or relationship further, you owe it to yourself and the person you are seeing to call it day. Even if it’s early on, this process may be difficult; most of us don’t like confrontation and we don’t want to hurt the other person. However, it’s better for all involved parties for you to be up front about your feelings (or lack thereof) to allow both of you to move on.

Keep it Simple

There are a few important things you may consider to craft a gentle, respectful separation. Firstly, do not make a breakup more dramatic than it needs to be; your breakup will be more complex the further you are into your relationship, so keep this in mind when you begin the process. Try to avoid big gestures and clever breakup methods; Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s recent ‘conscious uncoupling’ sent shivers of revulsion through many – it sounds complicated, protracted and more than a bit uncomfortable.

Timing is Everything

Sooner is better than later; once you know, you know, so don’t drag it out. There’s never a good time to breakup and if you look for one, you’ll probably find an excuse to delay the awkwardness by a few. days, weeks or even months (it’s his birthday in a few weeks, we’ve got a friend’s wedding coming up, we’ve booked an overseas holiday, she’s going through a rough time at the moment, etc.). Don’t let pending events get in the way of the real issue; you and your partner aren’t suited for the long term. It will be better for both of you for it to end now so that you can both begin to heal and move on. Although it would be nice to try and avoid breaking up on big occasions, statistically, you’re more likely to breakup around the holidays. According to a US survey, relationship breakups peak around holidays like Valentine’s Day, summer and just before Christmas (but curiously, not on Christmas itself). Mondays are also the most common day for a breakup.

Breaking up Etiquette

Letting someone down gently in person is more respectful than doing so online or with a text message, however breaking up electronically is becoming more common, especially for those in the early stages of dating. This doesn’t mean that it is socially acceptable; always try to meet face-to-face. Even if it’s very early on, the other person has the right to know that you aren’t interested in taking things further, so let them know – don’t just fade away or ignore phone calls/emails. Be honest with the other person but aim for tact. This is not the moment to be brutal about all the things that you don’t like about them. Attraction is subjective and it’s ok to acknowledge this as a reason for a breakup. Instead of paying particular attention to faults or flaws in the other person, try to phrase things generally. However, be direct. You’re aiming for a clean and (relatively) simple break, so don’t muddy the waters too much with overly-complicated explanations or vague phrases that may leave room for interpretation or misunderstanding. Once you’ve said the words, there’s no going back – do not back down, even in the face of heightened emotions. Stand fast, you know that the relationship isn’t working and there’s no point in prolonging the agony, no matter how uncomfortable the process may be. When it’s all over, give the other person space to accept the situation and move on. This usually means no contact but may differ depending on the nature of your relationship. Breaking up is never easy but with respect, sincerity and grace, you can let the relationship down gently, allowing both you and your former partner to move forward with dignity and integrity intact.