Author Topic: What to Say  (Read 6420 times)

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mbbored

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What to Say
« on: July 02, 2013, 11:29:51 AM »
A friend and I were debating what to say when ending a relationship last night. I say if you're ending things after a few dates but before getting serious because you don't mesh well, it's kinder to stick with "We're looking for different things," "I don't feel the chemistry, etc." I might not like the daily phone calls along with multiple text messages and emails after a first date, but maybe there are people who do. However once you're serious, it's ok to tell them "You demanded too much of my time," "I can't handle your jealousy," "I'm not attracted to you anymore."

She says it's always kinder to tell them the truth. So if after the first date they call you twice a day, you should say "You're making me feel claustrophic."

What do you guys say? Should you always be honest during a break up, always give a polite vague reason or somewhere in between? Or, does the type of answer depend on how serious your relationship is?

EllenS

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2013, 12:12:25 PM »
I think if you save up being honest about your feelings, needs and boundaries until you are ready to break up, you are missing the chance to have a happy healthy relationship.

If your date is doing something annoying, why not ask him nicely and calmly to stop or change it?  You find out an awful lot about a person from how they react to that.  There are a lot of things, like texting too much, that are just habits, or things that other girlfriends liked - not character flaws.

Similarly, if you are serious with someone surely you are discussing and dealing with these things (space, attraction, obligation/expectations/committment/jealousy) as you go along?  If you are breaking up a serious relationship, surely the cause is not news to the other person?  If the person you are seeing has never heard your real opinion, I don't understand your definition of a "serious relationship".

gollymolly2

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2013, 12:18:19 PM »
I asked a similar question a long time ago. And in hindsight, I think the reason I wanted to give my reasons for breaking up were actually because I wanted him to say "oh I can change those things, lets stay together." But outside the context of a break up, I didn't want to pay out a litany of things that bothered me about him.

So to answer your question, I would say if you would stay with a person if they changed the things that you are listing as your reasons for breaking up, then don't break up with them, just communicate about the issues.

But if you're done with the relationship or think they definitely can't change, then just break up without comment. Break ups aren't the time for constructive criticism.

Yvaine

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2013, 12:32:56 PM »
I think if you save up being honest about your feelings, needs and boundaries until you are ready to break up, you are missing the chance to have a happy healthy relationship.

I agree with this and with Gollymolly too. The breakup speech should not be the first time you mention some annoyance that you've saved up until you were so annoyed you didn't want to resolve it anymore.

I'm also a big believer in the polite fiction when breaking up. Seriously. You're breaking up with the person; they'll be hurt. There's no reason to compound it with "I'm breaking up with you because you snore, I hate your teeth, and three years ago you burned the toast." As much as I've overanalyzed the "It's not you, it's me" tales I've been told when getting dumped, in retrospect they were easier to take than a litany of one's faults, especially if it's the first time those faults have ever been mentioned.

If you discussed an issue during the actual relationship and it still wasn't resolved, sure. "We've gone around and around and we still can't agree on whether to have kids," I can see that. But hitting someone with both a breakup and a list of petty annoyances or superficial flaws--it's unnecessary.

Pen^2

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2013, 12:43:23 PM »
POD to Gollymolly2. There are things that people will do that rub you the wrong way, and you can politely ask them to change these things. But some things aren't merely behaviours, but a part of who that person is: they can happily decline from calling you every hour once they realise it bugs you, but giving up their extensive trilobite fossil collection is too much to ask. Or whatever, it depends on the person.

I think the whole point of a relationship is that, as long as both people are being honest with each other, they can adjust the small things that aren't hugely important and that they're willing to change, so that they can see if underneath the basic human beings are compatible.

If they aren't, then it isn't the time for constructive criticism. That time was during the relationship. If a fundamental part of who they are just isn't working for you, i.e. some of what isn't working is a part of them that they couldn't change without still being honest about who they are, then say so without blaming them or a part of them. Not "we have to break up because your room is full of five hundred million year old fossils and it's freaky," but something more like, "there just isn't any chemistry for me; you're not what I'm looking for." Break-ups are never fun. If you've both given it an honest try, then the least you can do is end it without making it their fault somehow.

Yvaine

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2013, 12:46:11 PM »
"there just isn't any chemistry for me; you're not what I'm looking for."

Because there's way too much paleontology.  ;D

Pen^2

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2013, 12:51:12 PM »
"there just isn't any chemistry for me; you're not what I'm looking for."

Because there's way too much paleontology.  ;D

If I was breaking up with someone and they said that, I would reconsider everything.

whiterose

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2013, 02:02:41 PM »
How about variations of "We are just not a good match for each other"?

Can be both for very short ones, as well as to somewhat longer ones. My second longest relationship ended because we simply were not a good long term match for each other- among other reasons, he wanted several kids, and I certainly did not want a big family (and eventually decided I would be childfree).

Or for shorter ones, "I am not feeling the same way- and I cannot figure out why". Whether you know exactly why, you truly have no idea, or you only have a vague idea but are not entirely sure. OK, so this one may not be conclusive- so it may be better saved for cases where you truly are not feeling a no, just not feeling the same feelings the other person has for you.
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EllenS

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2013, 02:39:24 PM »
How about variations of "We are just not a good match for each other"?

Can be both for very short ones, as well as to somewhat longer ones. My second longest relationship ended because we simply were not a good long term match for each other- among other reasons, he wanted several kids, and I certainly did not want a big family (and eventually decided I would be childfree).

Or for shorter ones, "I am not feeling the same way- and I cannot figure out why". Whether you know exactly why, you truly have no idea, or you only have a vague idea but are not entirely sure. OK, so this one may not be conclusive- so it may be better saved for cases where you truly are not feeling a no, just not feeling the same feelings the other person has for you.

These are good. And of course, if you are talking openly during hte relationship, the exact points of mismatch won't really need restating.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2013, 03:42:03 PM »
I'd been on a couple of dates with a guy.  There was nothing wrong with him but we had absolutely no chemistry.  When he called me for a third date, I told him, 'I think you are a really nice guy and that there is someone out there for you.  It just isn't me.'

He was quiet for a couple of seconds and then told me that he appreciated my honesty and that he hadn't really been feeling it, either but thought he'd give it another go.  We both hung up, somewhat relieved.
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Re: What to Say
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2013, 04:21:11 PM »
I think you are not communicating well with your friend here  :D
You are both suggesting telling the truth, its just you are suggesting a gentler more edited version and she is suggesting a more detailed version. But "we're looking for different things" and "you're making me feel claustrophobic" are to me pretty much the same reason just worded differently. I think both have their merits. Sure the first is kinder, but the second perhaps with some people, is useful for them for next time so they don't repeat the mistake.

The longer one is dating the more detail I think a person should give, but even still, ultimately it should be as brief as possible an explanation. Ultimately all break-ups boil down to the same thing "I no longer want to be in a relationship with you." Sometimes the reasons are easy to explain and obvious to everyone, sometimes the reasons are difficult to explain or seem petty to others, but in the end it doesn't matter. If one person no longer wants to be int he relationship, pretty much the relationship is over regardless of what is said.


Twik

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2013, 04:24:24 PM »
Giving too many details simply gives the other person the hope (usually fruitless) that if they just fix those problems, the relationship can be salvaged.

I would say "you make me feel claustrophobic!" if you want the behaviour to change. I'd say, "I don't think this relationship is working out," if I want it to end.
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whiterose

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2013, 06:58:19 PM »
Whatever you do, do not just dump the person like a hot potato (unless you are in danger)- especially if you will be seeing the person regularly again.

Quick does not automatically equal painless. An explanation- even if it is just a polite embellishment of the truth- is always helpful.

Exception- person is dangerous and you will be avoiding this person at all costs. But not someone you would like to stay friends- or at least in speaking terms- with.
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blarg314

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2013, 09:12:42 PM »

I call this the "It's not me, it's you" breakup method.

Sure, it can feel good at the time to tell someone exactly why you were forced to break up with them - a list of deeply personal flaws that made them unbearable to be with, and make it clear that if they weren't such a loser, you'd still be with them.

But really - telling them this isn't going to make them feel better about getting dumped. It's going to make them feel worse. They've been dumped *and* insulted.  If they were willing or able to address the issue, they would have done so in the relationship, so the excuse "But I'll help them be a better person in the next relationship" doesn't fly either.

If the 'flaw' were fixable, then you could have addressed it during the relationship. If you didn't or couldn't, then telling them isn't going to change it.

There are a few specific cases where you can point to a single, large incompatibility, like "I want kids and you don't". There are also some extreme cases like "I'm leaving you because you hit me. Do not contact me again or I'm going to the police." or "You slept with my sister".  Otherwise, an "I don't think we're a good match in a romantic relationship" or "We want different things out of life" are as deep as you need to go.

You can flip it and see how you'd feel if someone dumped you and said "The sex was great, but quite frankly you're boring and needy, and the way you snort when you laugh is like fingernails on a chalkboard".

Mind you, I do think you have to deal with things differently when you're dealing with a marriage or cohabiting relationship, rather than dating (or even extended, exclusive dating) There's generally no way that's not going to be messy, if for no other reason than having to find a new place to live, splitting joint assets, and deciding who gets the dog.


Pen^2

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Re: What to Say
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2013, 11:11:22 PM »

I call this the "It's not me, it's you" breakup method.

Sure, it can feel good at the time to tell someone exactly why you were forced to break up with them - a list of deeply personal flaws that made them unbearable to be with, and make it clear that if they weren't such a loser, you'd still be with them.

But really - telling them this isn't going to make them feel better about getting dumped. It's going to make them feel worse. They've been dumped *and* insulted.  If they were willing or able to address the issue, they would have done so in the relationship, so the excuse "But I'll help them be a better person in the next relationship" doesn't fly either.

If the 'flaw' were fixable, then you could have addressed it during the relationship. If you didn't or couldn't, then telling them isn't going to change it.

There are a few specific cases where you can point to a single, large incompatibility, like "I want kids and you don't". There are also some extreme cases like "I'm leaving you because you hit me. Do not contact me again or I'm going to the police." or "You slept with my sister".  Otherwise, an "I don't think we're a good match in a romantic relationship" or "We want different things out of life" are as deep as you need to go.

You can flip it and see how you'd feel if someone dumped you and said "The sex was great, but quite frankly you're boring and needy, and the way you snort when you laugh is like fingernails on a chalkboard".

Mind you, I do think you have to deal with things differently when you're dealing with a marriage or cohabiting relationship, rather than dating (or even extended, exclusive dating) There's generally no way that's not going to be messy, if for no other reason than having to find a new place to live, splitting joint assets, and deciding who gets the dog.

Exactly!

If it's a minor thing that the person is willing to change, then you owe it to them to at least be honest about it at some point during the relationship and ask them to please tone it down/alter it. Holding it all inside until a breakup is dishonest and silly, almost petty, and shows you aren't really trying to make things work. But it it's a major part of who they are, then telling them that the break-up (which is almost never painless) is due to a fundamental part of them can be just plain unkind. It shouldn't be, "I'm not interested in a relationship because you want to have 83 kids," but, "I'm not interested because we're both looking for different things and we're just not a match for each other." That way, it's not the desired 83 kids that is portrayed as being the problem, but it instead acknowledges that both of you have aspects that aren't compatible, rather than just one of you being at fault. The actual incompatibility is that one wants 83 kids and the other doesn't. This is a minor but important distinction.

A break-up is absolutely not the time to give someone relationship feedback. That should have happened during the relationship, if you were giving it a fair go. If you are ending things, hopefully, both people should be aware of what things aren't quite working, rather than one person thinking everything is going well and the other person suddenly dropping a bombshell on them. They should, hopefully, both be aware of the incompatibilities to some extent before one or both decide to call it a day.