Dismissing someone you're no longer interested in can be emotionally difficult. Still, if you want to spare your ex's feelings, there are some steps you can take to ease the scam. Choose effective communication strategies, avoid common break-up pitfalls, and end the conversation so you both can move on.
Part 1 of 4: Getting the Right Message
Step 1. Choose an appropriate time and place
The place and time make a difference if you want to make it easier. Be empathetic and search for a suitable place, reflect on when it's best for both of you.
- Difficult conversations must happen in person. Humans use non-verbal signals, which can convey security in complex conversations. A pat on the shoulder can make the person feel loved and valued, even if the relationship in question isn't working. A look of sadness can show your partner that you care about his or her feelings, even if you want to break up.
- Choose a place where the person feels most comfortable, if possible. Chat at her house, for example. It may be uncomfortable for you, but empowering her during this delicate situation can help her assimilate the bad news.
- Prefer a time when you are not interrupted, if you know the conversation will be long. For example, don't break up an hour before work or class, go to his house a little after dinner, midweek. With time, the conversation can be clearer and unfinished business can come to an end.
Step 2. Take responsibility and assume your actions
You must make your decision, as it will be easy for you to finish. It's common for people to prefer that their partner break up because it seems easier, but it's you who wants it. Using subtle cues to trick the person into doing this is manipulation and can confuse them; she'll have a question mark in her head and probably won't break up.
- For example, if you start to physically distance yourself to show that you are losing interest, your partner may start to feel that you are no longer attractive and not that you simply want to finish. He will suffer because you don't have the courage to speak directly. To make the conversation easier for both of you, be honest and take your decision.
Step 3. Be open and honest about your feelings
You don't need to talk about every detail that makes you want to finish, but be clear about your expectations. Explain that you want to break up and why.
- The primary message you want to get across to the person is: "I don't want to be with you anymore, I'm up for other things." It's okay to say that. The person will understand your reason, which will give you a feeling of closure. Be kind and say “I'm sorry but I don't love you anymore. I want different things now and I think we should each go their own way”; if it's a less serious relationship, you can be even shorter than that: "I'm not in love with you and I prefer that we be friends."
- Honesty is important, but it doesn't have to be aggressive. It's not nice to be throwing the wrong things your partner did in his face and other nasty things. For example, you don't need to say that you no longer feel any desire for him - be tactful. Recalling past resentments and arguments can be cathartic at this point, but it will be painful for your partner. To make the break-up easier, the reason should be more general than that, and you shouldn't talk about what he did or didn't do.
Step 4. Be brief
Again, while it's great to be honest, it's also great to be succinct. It doesn't help to beat around the bush and avoid the subject. Start the conversation with a simple statement of what you want such as "I wanted to talk to you, I'm not so happy with our relationship anymore." From there, try to be brief.
- It is important to remain calm and in control, as ending a relationship is not simple. So you will speak coherently. Getting carried away by the emotion of the moment can cause you to be unable to articulate ideas properly, compromising the message. Try to take time to prepare yourself emotionally for the conversation, have a mental script of what you're going to say if necessary.
- Write what you want to say. Memorizing a speech may not be ideal, but it can help you get a sense of what you want to say and stay focused. Rehearse your words a few times before the actual conversation.
Step 5. Offer your friendship, if applicable
Providing some kind of comfort at the end of the relationship can help reduce trauma. Offer your friendship if possible. Say something like “I hope we can stay friends”, but remember that this is difficult after a breakup (even more so if it's recent). However, don't even think about saying such words if you don't make a point of maintaining the friendship.
Part 2 of 4: Avoiding the Pitfalls
Step 1. Try not to use clichés
It is important to avoid a speech that sounds condescending. Phrases like “It's not you, it's me” will certainly sound like a lie. Instead, express yourself firmly and avoid vague phrases. It is best to speak from your own experience to make it easier.
Step 2. Don't try to pinpoint the culprits
You may feel anger and resentment, you may want to blame your ex, especially if you've been hurt. However, if you want to simplify the process, pointing your finger won't help.
- Avoid any kind of negativity; this is one of the best ways to not hurt someone. Clinging to past disagreements can lead to an argument and the situation will no longer be simple.
- Keep in mind that your partner might appeal to this. Avoid getting into these frictions and respond with something like "I'm sorry even if you feel that way, but it doesn't change how I feel or my decision."
Step 3. Avoid social media after the conversation
They can be particularly harmful at this time. If you want this process to be smooth, don't talk about it online, even from profiles he doesn't seem to access; it can be liberating to talk about it publicly, but their feelings can be hurt depending on what you post. It's also nice to stop following him on any of the online platforms. It takes time to create space between you, which will help you move forward later. Cutting virtual ties is a good start.
Part 3 of 4: Moving on with life
Step 1. Remember the good things
You'll help yourself and your "ex" a lot if you prioritize the positive things. In the end, the conversation should be lighter in tone, focusing on good things for both of you.
- Highlight all the cool things he's done for you; he has to leave the conversation feeling that the relationship worked for as long as it lasted, even if it ended. “You always encouraged me to be a kinder and more empathetic person and made me feel good about myself. I will always be grateful for that.”
- Encourage gratitude. It may take a while for this, but encourage your partner to celebrate the good times you had together. Relationships are social exchanges and people have a natural tendency to seek rewards. Your partner will be happy if you help him look for a positive light, even at the end of the relationship.
Step 2. Be clear about reducing contact
As stated before, it can be helpful to leave the door open to friendship, but you don't want to get the wrong message across. Be honest about the type of contact you feel is best to have with him. You may say that you don't want any contact, especially if you need some time before you can feel friendship again. Don't try to force friendly dates ahead of time: this can confuse your "ex". You will need space before you can see yourself without making any association with the past.
Step 3. Be civil after finishing
You will probably meet at some point. Be warm and friendly when this happens and prepare yourself emotionally. Keep this in mind on the way to work or school and when you're out on the street. That way you will be calm and in control when it happens.
Step 4. Resist thinking of him as the love of your life
When we're in love, we convince ourselves that that person is our true love, but we need to let go of those feelings when it's over. In fact, there are a lot of people out there that you can get along with very well. You'll probably meet someone new in the future, despite everything you're feeling right now. Allow yourself to accept that the relationship ended for a reason and that new relationships will come.
Part 4 of 4: Should I fire the person?
Step 1. Are you sure you want to end the relationship?
Otherwise, keep him alive. You need to understand that layoff means separation. Don't try to dump someone just to "stay full of options." You either end the relationship or keep it. Playing with someone's emotions isn't cool…
- Don't try to dismiss someone gently if you're expecting the other person to take the initiative with the termination. Don't expect the other person to do all the work: take on that responsibility.
- If the person doesn't understand the hints or if your kindness doesn't work, be prepared to end the relationship firmly.
Step 2. Do you want to end the relationship for good or just keep the friendship going?
It is important to think about the reasons for your separation. If you no longer want to see a person, end the relationship gently and quickly. Dismissing the person gently is more appropriate if you want to slow down the relationship.
- A gentle dismissal can give the impression that you want to return to the relationship later. If you don't want to convey such an impression, get it over with without delay.
- Quickly end the relationship if you are being kind because you are concerned about your safety. Don't worry about being kind. Ask a friend to be around when you end the relationship if you are afraid of the other party's reaction.
- If you need a little space after some disagreements, please dismiss the person gently. That way, you can resume friendship when the dust settles.
Step 3. Does your relationship have serious flaws?
All relationships have ups and downs, and it's easy to forget the good times during the bad ones. Before dismissing a person because of any difficulty, ask yourself if you really don't like them or if their discomfort is with the current situation.
- Do not hurry. Wait two or three weeks to see if your feelings change. Try to write a list of pros and cons to better frame your decision. Use it to see if you can adjust things instead of ending the relationship.
- Many people like to "dismiss others gently" because it opens up the possibility of reviewing the decision later. If you keep changing your mind all the time, however, it's possible that your relationship is going through a little difficulty rather than a major crisis.
- End the relationship once and for all if you keep fighting for the same reasons every day.
Step 4. Would a no-frills finish be good for all parties?
Even though your intention to end gently is noble and you care about the person's feelings, ask yourself if methodical dismissal is really the best option. Sometimes you have to be direct. It's impossible to gently dismiss a person who is truly dedicated and surrenders to the relationship, no matter what you do. Don't prolong someone's suffering.
If the person seems distant and the relationship is lifeless, gently dismiss them and move on
Step 5. What can you do instead of gently dismissing the person?
If you've come to the conclusion that a kind dismissal is not fair or appropriate, rethink your options. Consider:
- Ending a relationship with a manipulative person.
- Ending a friendship.
- Rekindle your relationship.