The question



I’ve been with my significant other for several months but just don’t feel things are working out and I know that there’s no future. What are your tips for the best way to break up with someone and make it as pain-free as possible?

There’s no easy way to do it. In any break-up, someone gets hurt. But there are ways to maintain dignity and respect and lessen the blow. For starters, don’t make the mistake that so many people do and nurture a relationship on the side just because you’re afraid to be alone. Once you are 100 percent single, then you can consider seeing others.

Plan to meet him or her and speak in person. Relying on methods such as e-mail or telephone might seem easier for you, but not for your soon-to-be ex: Anything short of face-to-face will seem cowardly. Meet in a private place and not a public setting where the person could feel embarrassed by the news. Take responsibility and be honest. Avoid the cliche of “it’s not you, it’s me” — or any other generic explanations and be sure to provide an explanation so that he or she can move on. No matter how bad the relationship might be, avoid insults. To demonize the person will only invite retaliation and perpetuate problems. You dated for several months, so he or she can’t be that bad, right? That said, you both might benefit from mentioning a few things you do like.

Don’t try to cushion things by saying, “But we can still be friends.” A statement like that is probably more about assuaging your guilt than actually wanting to be friends, and it might provide false hope.

 

Finally, don’t jump right back into the dating world. Way too often people get into a new relationship because they’re afraid to be single. Don’t be that person. Instead, take some time to reflect on the past relationship and learn a little something about yourself and the type of mate you prefer.

– Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com

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