5 Steps to Breaking Up With Dignity

The holidays are around the corner, which also means you—yes, you, the guy in a so-called happy relationship—are getting ready to give the old heave-ho to your girlfriend.

Don’t lie to me.

According to a super duper scientific-ish chart (its data was collected via Facebook statuses, but I’m sure it’s totally legit), the weeks before Christmas is peak breakup season because of all that intense end-of-year self-reflection, as well as the stress of introducing your S.O. to your family during the holiday season, and all that “what does that mean?” talk, etc.

And before you contest that Christmas is “so far away!” let me remind you that you are a guy; therefore you’ve been planning your exit strategy since July (we’re onto you, fellas).

Breaking up is a necessary evil for two people who dare to be vulnerable and intimate with one another. And boy, does it suck. Dumper, dumpee. Both roles are the absolute worst. Though we can’t wipe our brains clean a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (hopefully one day?) there is a way of breaking up with dignity. So before you hype yourself up with “Blue Christmas” renditions (the Elvis version is my personal fave, FYI), here’s some tips to help you break your girl’s heart (sorry, but, it’s going to happen).

Don’t be a Ghost

For y’all who don’t check Urban Dictionary regularly, ghosting means pulling a disappearing act on someone you were dating without any explanation. There are no phone calls, no text messages, no Post-It Notes. Just a vanishing into thin air. It’s the cowardly dink’s way out.

Guys: don’t be a dink. For god’s sakes, give her some face time if you’re breaking up with her. Ghosting is the most heartbreaking of all the possible breakup methods. It leaves the woman with so many unanswered questions as she tries to put the pieces together. If you didn’t already know, women love closure. We crave it, we need it. Which brings me to my next point…

Really, Honesty is the Best Policy

Don’t pull a George Constanza and give her that “it’s not you, it’s me” excuse. You’re better than George. We’re all better than George. Let me tell you why honesty—no matter how brutal you may think it is—is the best policy when it comes to breaking up: it allows her to move on. An ex-boyfriend of mine broke up with me almost ten years ago, and, to this day, I still don’t know exactly why. Because of this guy’s refusal to be straight up with me, I didn’t let go of him, or our relationship, for a very long time. I kept questioning the big why, always seeking a better answer from him. The ambiguity of the breakup kept us involved for way longer than we should have been, and it was tortuous for us both.

When you give your girlfriend hard information as to why you’re ending the relationship, it gives her the opportunity to process the breakup so she can come to her own conclusion about it; it gives her closure. If you don’t, you risk 4 a.m. drunk phone calls and post-breakup fights, and no one wants that. We’re all better than that.

Prepare What You Want To Say

So now that you’re going to have a face-to-face with her and you’re going to tell her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the reasons behind the breakup, it’s probably wise to rehearse a mental script. Not only will it lessen your anxiety and effectively emotionally equip you when you’re faced with tears and sobbing, but it will also put you in a more positive light in the long run. Eloquence is way better than ignorance. She will warmly remember the guy who took the time to ease her broken heart with a thoughtful speech over the guy who tells her, “Um, well, I dunno. I’ve been a single dude for a long time, and I just, yeah, can’t do this anymore.” Trust me.

Really Break Up With Her. Like, for Real

Don’t dangle the carrot of a possible reconciliation in front of her while you’re breaking up. Don’t do that whole Ross/Rachel “we’re on a break” thing. That’s bullshit. Commit to ripping the whole band-aid off—not just a part of it. And, no, you’re not being kind by lessening the blow like that—you’re actually being cruel. And no one’s gotta be cruel to be kind in the right measure, no matter what that crappy song says. Even if, on some remote “what if?” level, you feel that getting back together could be a possibility down the road, keep that on the DL. Remember: you want to give her closure. You want her to move on. You’ve gotten this far already, dude, so, please, don’t be a dink now.

Keep Out of Her World Post-Breakup

The worst is over. You’ve had The Talk. There were tears. There were odds and ends exchanged (deodorants, tshirts, razors). Now you’re done. And that means you’re done online and in the real 3D world. Unfollow her on Twitter and Facebook. It’s tempting to see who might be winning in the “who’s moving on faster” category, but, really, that’s just petty artifice. Continuing to interact with her online only invites communication and drama. Same thing goes for when she asks you to come to her birthday party or when she wants to “just catch up” two months after the breakup. Politely decline and stay away. Don’t give false hope. Don’t be a douche. Be the guy who has the clean breakup. The guy who breaks up with dignity. Be that guy.

Brianne Hogan is a freelance writer based in Toronto, something of a humorist, and considers herself more Bridget Jones than Samantha Jones. Though she won’t reveal which parts, she will admit to liking emotionally unavailable men and drinking lots of wine.  You can follow her on Twitter  @briannehogan
Photo courtesy of Jose Manuel Rios Valiente.  

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