Here's some very honest advice on what not to do during that awkward conversation, from men and women who've been there...
We’ve all experienced a break up at some stage in our lives, and whether you’re the ‘dumper’ or the ‘dumpee’, it’s going be one hell of a difficult conversation. As the ‘dumpee’ you just have to listen to a carefully rehearsed speech by your soon-to-be ex and react however you like, but as the ‘dumper’ there’s a lot more pressure to steer the conversation the right way.
Break ups are never pain-free and someone’s feelings are inevitably going to get crushed, the trick is executing your break up in the most efficient and effective way, causing as little heartbreak as possible.
Here are 9 tips on what NOT to do next time...
1) Don’t suggest “going on a break” with me if you have no intention of getting back together… ‘Yes, it may seem like the kindest option, introducing the idea of a “break” to soften the blow and ease me into the separation, but all that it’s actually doing is prolonging the pain and giving me false hope. If you genuinely want to go on a temporary break then by all means suggest it, but if you’re just trying to lessen the pain, please just say so – it will actually hurt me a lot less.’
2) Don't patronise me during and after breaking up with me...
'We both know that I'm feeling vulnerable because, well, you're breaking up with me, so there's no need to add insult to injury by pitying me. Patronising comments like "stay strong" and "you'll get through this" won't comfort me, they will just point out how OK you are by comparison, and that will make me either want to punch you or eat 5 pizzas.'
3) Don't try to be 'mate-y' whilst breaking up with me... 'The chances are that if you're dumping me, I will know that we're no longer in a relationship. Please don't try to emphasise your point by calling me "mate", "bud", "pal" or "kid". You're not Mr Big from Sex and the City and you can't get away with it - all it does is emotionally wind me, so please refrain.'
4) Don't break up with me by ghosting me...
'I can see how this seems like the easy way out, just going silent and hoping that I will get the message, (especially if I'm a casual Tinder swipe) but if we're actually dating this really is the most painful way to go about things. It will take me twice as long to get over you because I will be constantly obsessing over whether you have died, lost your phone or are in fact dumping me. Just don't.'
5) Don't do a long lead in when breaking up with me... 'Some break ups do come as a surprise, but trust me if you look at me stony faced, head bowed and tell me that "we need to talk", the chances are that I'll know what's coming. Reciting a long-winded introduction about how important I am to you is just going to terrify me, and I won't be listening anyway because I'll know what's coming. Get to the point and tell me that you want to break up, then tell me how great I am afterwards.'
6) Don't use any cliché break up lines or recycle old movie quotes... 'You're already dumping me, please don't make it worse by throwing a cliché line in my face - none of this "It's not you, it's me" or "you deserve better than me". And please for god's sake, don't recycle a quote from a Hollywood break up scene. Yes, I've been in the "dumper's" shoes and I know that it's hard to say something poetic in the moment but channeling Noah from the Notebook and telling me "we're from different worlds" is not going to make things better. The chances are that I've seen the film, will remember the line - and I won't be impressed by your memorization, I'll just be annoyed that our break up didn't warrant an original speech.'
7) Don't lie to me whilst breaking up with me... 'If there's a reason why you're breaking up with me then please tell me. "I'm not happy anymore and I'm finding our arguments too overwhelming" is a much more satisfying answer than "You're too good for me". If there's someone else - tell me, I'm going to find out anyway when I stalk you online for the next 6 months - it's much better to hear it from you. There is a line though between being honest and being insensitive. I imagine that you probably don't love me anymore - that's probably why you're breaking up with me, but hearing those five words is probably one of the most painful experiences ever, so try and avoid saying it.'
8) Don't be indecisive whilst breaking up with me... 'This has to be the "break up golden rule" yet it's also the most common dumping mistake. Be sure that you want to break up with me before you actually do it, because nothing prolongs pain like uncertainty. Bringing up the horrendous conversation topic only to bat it away and tell me "I don't know what to do! What shall we do?" hurts a lot. I was perfectly happy in our relationship so I don't think I have that much say in your decision. I understand if you're genuinely confused, but if you're going to break up with me anyway, just do it.'
9) Don't rush breaking up with me…
‘I know that this is an awkward conversation and that you’re hating every minute, but please don’t rush what could be the last time we see each other. Answering all of my questions and talking through everything will give me the closure that I need and stop me from calling you every day for the next month when a question that I need answered comes into my head.’
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Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.
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