The art of the break-up

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Photo credit: Brooke Morrill


“Please pass the salt” is not code for “please pass the pepper”. But sometimes it seems to be taken as such. No, I’m not really referring to condiments; I’m referring to how well we take breakups. For example, when someone says they want it to be over, it means it is really over. It likely doesn’t mean they secretly want to be with you, even if you continue to pursue them with high hopes.

To avoid the typical crossing of wires when it comes to severing ties with your current flame, one can take to three simple rules to really get the point across without giving false hope things could still work out, or doling out any unnecessary pain.

First, be sure you know exactly what you want, even before you attempt to pursue the person. This will help prevent future instances that make you look like a liar by saying how you felt at the time, but then apparently later changed your mind. Saying you are not ready to be with someone after you told them you loved them is probably a huge red flag on your part, spraying you with the scent of uncertainty and doubt— one of the quickest ways to run someone off.

Second, now that things just aren’t working out for whatever reason you must just nip the problem in the bud. Try to avoid leaving any thorns behind for them to get hung up on. Do it in person so they can see you are making an effort.

Third, do not confess leftover feelings to them afterward. Even if you are attempting to be friends and still be a part of each other’s lives, do not try to light any old flames or regret your decision. Obviously there was a reason you wanted to end it in the first place, so do not rub salt in the wound by changing your mind.

Lastly, make sure you do not make it seem like you are blaming them. Even if you are choosing to end it because of something they do or an attribute they possess, make sure you do not convey it in a way that seems like you are the victim by framing it as a situation where they were just hanging on too tightly for you to tell them to stop. However, be clear on the reason you are ending it so they do not feel as though it is simply because you found someone better or you find them inadequate. That is the surest way to annihilate their heartstrings.

Remember your manners when ending a relationship. Be cordial and direct, and do not intentionally seek to cause them pain. Simply try to focus on the science of the breakup and not the emotions or collateral damage that will ensue. It is better for everyone if you simply remain polite when breaking up instead of trying to spark up a full-fledged war.