Breaking up is hard to do … and hookups and undefined relationships that make up the sphere of modern dating aren’t making it any easier.
A friend of mine was having trouble with a woman he was seeing. They started out as friends, and then hooked up. A couple of months later, he was no longer interested and decided to pull a slow fade away, backing out without saying anything. But the girl continues to call and text and he doesn’t understand why.
I keep telling him he’s not clear with what he wants and that if they were initially friends, she may believe that hook-up or not, they’re still just that—friends. Friends get busy, but still eventually reconnect. If you don’t want this to go any further, you need clarity. It’s that simple.
That’s the problem with how we date today: the lines are so blurred going in they don’t get any clearer on the way out. If you were never really together, you’re not exactly breaking up—it’s more of a break off.
But how do you know what’s an appropriate way to break things off? How do you even know if it’s happening to YOU? When you’re in that weird gray space of a relationship, it’s helpful to have a few tactics. You should never be cruel but there is a certain level of honesty you need to reach.
Ever went out with someone a couple of times only to have them disappear? That phenomenon is known as ghosting.
While this is an easy (and cowardly) way out, it’s perfectly acceptable if you’ve only been out a couple of times. If you haven’t been out that much with this other person and you don’t respond to their messages or calls, eventually you both can move on.
2. The Fade Away
The fade away is a slow burn type of break off. You’re not actually breaking up, because you were never really together. You’re not completely disappearing on a person, but you’re not making yourself available either. You start to reply to texts later and later, creating wider and wider gaps in communication.
You just hope that things taper off.
I really dislike this method. You’re leading someone on by not being direct. But it’s socially acceptable to use the fade away method if you’ve only been hooking up or seeing someone for a short amount of time.
3. Tapping Out
When I was dating, this was my favorite method to break things off with someone I dated for less than two months.
A quick text or call letting them know you’re no longer interested in pursuing this, is a direct and considerate way to end your unofficial relationship. You’re honest, strong and sympathetic to the other person’s time and options.
You’re tapping out for someone they have a better chance at connecting with. Hopefully, they’ll agree.
4. The “We Need To Talk” Talk
Oh, those dreaded words.
When you’ve made things official (as in boyfriend-girlfriend), a “we need to talk” conversation is the least you can do to break things off.
Preferably you have this conversation in person, and are kind and compassionate with the person on the receiving end. Make sure to go in with a game plan. Don’t leave things open-ended or talk each other out of continuing a dead end relationship. You both deserve bigger and better things.
No matter which method you use, be clear in your decision to end things.
Do not leave things open-ended or give false hope. Don’t offer friendship if you’d prefer to remain strangers. Don’t lie and don’t try to protect their feelings more than is necessary. They need to know the truth. That’s the endgame here: above all else, end a relationship with honesty and empathy.