How to Make a Clean Break

Breaking up? Keep it clean. Dirty’s easy, mean’s easy. Sure, there can be a bit of primal nyah-nyah fun in that, but it’s fleeting at best and petty at worst. Why make things difficult if you don’t need to — particularly if said difficulty might end up making your life more difficult?

(Also, dare I point out: It wouldn’t kill you to be human.)

In an ideal world, both parties would be OK with splitting up, with each of you going your own ways as civil, cordial beings. This is rarely the case.

If you are the kind of guy who has a pattern of making things messy after a split, you should know that being an ass will never simplify things, or speed them up. You might think that throwing on this armour will help her get over you (or you her), or perhaps protect you from being bothered by your ex until all feelings have passed. This is known as something that sounds good on paper. Like communism.

Here’s the thing: When men act like an ass in a breakup, women tend to cling even more. Even I’m not entirely sure why this is, but suspect it has something to do with this shocking turnaround from the previous ‘nice guy’ image, impossible to rectify in the face of this new, devolved you. The result: With each aggressive message you send, you’re only giving her more material to (over-)analyze with her friends.

Surely, you don’t want that.

Instead of going on auto-pilot and letting unresolved emotions fester, keep it clean. Admittedly, a gauntlet thrown down here when I tell you: Be a gentleman. Here are three necessary steps; man up.

Get your stuff back, quickly and politely
In any relationship, partners’ possessions intermingle; in any breakup, ownership disagreements are inevitable. Still, there will be many items that are clearly yours; get them now. Six months down the way, when you’re in another relationship? Not the time to ask her to meet you “for a coffee, and please bring my Battlestar Galactica DVD box set (in the Cylon head), and that snakeskin belt we used that time for… sorry, just bring the belt.” Simply, as early as possible during the split — ideally, immediately after the big conversation — just ask for everything that’s yours, and hand over everything that’s hers, promptly. (Note: This approach fails is a not-worth-lawyers collateral hostage rift. Good luck with that.) This kind of up-front exchange is not only a good way to ensure that you both retrieve your own chattel, but also one less reason for either to contact the other down the road. Nothing wrong with that!

Remove the Facebook (and BBM) bandaid
Planning on deleting her from BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook, or other social media forums where she’ll see you un-friended her? Do it like a bandaid: fast and a.s.a.f.p. Once she knows you deleted her, she will wonder what triggered it. Again, old wounds will open and, even if she’s moved on, it will set her back. And again: She’ll analyze this behaviour with her friends, and might end up approaching you. (You see where this is going?) The quicker you cut off every tie, the better for both your sakes. Also, keeping her on your lists and allowing for even a soupçon of wall-following contact might give her hope; better to avoid the opportunity for either of you to cave on immediate-communication media.

Keep your big mouth shut, at all times
When celebrities go through breakups, their publicists say ‘no comment’ on the couple’s behalf, or release some b.s. statement about how they’re going to remain friends and asking that people appreciate their privacy. Sure, the public still speculates, but it doesn’t turn into a he says/she says. You should do the same. A minimum of one year later, the dust long-settled, you can rail and backstab (and exaggerate to the point of outright lying) to whomever you want. In the early post-break days? Keep quiet and use positive blanket statements. If you start talking about it or flaunting it — or, worse, dissing her — it will get back to her. You know it will get back to her; it’s half the reason you’re doing it, subconsciously. This will result in communication and some sort of confrontation. Point is, open mouth is open door. Keep both closed.

Image courtesy of Ashley Rose.

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