Our advice for successful dating

Article 22

How to Let Someone Down After A Few Weeks of Dating

It’s not them, it’s not you – the spark just isn’t there. How can you end things gently? Kate Taylor advises you on how to achieve a no-more-tears break-up

First of all, take a long, quiet moment to think through the reasons you want to end the relationship. You’re going to have to be very sure before you do it, because not only will your partner possibly try to change your mind, but you’ll also have time on your hands afterwards to wonder whether or not you did the right thing. This is why I’ve often felt that being on the receiving end is easier than being the one to end things. It often seems that all the responsibility lies with the person who initiates the break-up.

So, think about your reasons. It might be that there is one definite deal-breaker, and in this case it’s simple. If you’ve discovered something about your partner that you just can’t live with – or you have simply found someone else you like more -- then end the relationship and give your reason. Meet your partner somewhere on public, neutral ground for a coffee or a quick drink, and as nicely as you can, tell them you’re finishing the relationship, and why. We often try to hide our true thoughts thinking that it’s kinder to the other person, but in reality it’s better to be given a specific reason.

After a relationship finishes, the person who was left often spends hours questioning the split. “Was it something I said? Was I not attractive enough? Did they ever like me at all?” These whirling thoughts are tiring, confusing, and can sometimes lead to depression. Left wondering, the person spends hours talking it out with friends, miserably. At least if you kindly but firmly state the reason, you’re giving the other person something to focus on.

When telling them, state the reason specifically and then don’t be allowed to be talked out of it. If your partner offers to change, or asks for another chance, simply say, “I’m really sorry but this is just the way I feel and I can’t see you anymore.” Don’t be in a rush to get away as quickly as you can – if you leave hastily, the chances are higher that your ex will contact you afterwards by phone or email to discuss things. Stay until you feel they’ve understood and accepted things, and then leave. If they contact you afterwards, answer the first contact but think twice about responding after that. This might feel unkind but in the long term, the less contact your partner has with you, the faster they will move on.

It might be that there isn’t one definite reason why you’ve decided the relationship. Perhaps it’s a collection of things– or just that being with them doesn’t make you happy. Then what? Again, meet them in person. But this time, keep the conversation focussed on your feelings. Use phrases like, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t feel this relationship is right for me. I don’t feel we are suited to one another. I feel it’s wrong to carry on seeing you.”

It’s not as clear-cut as a definite reason (which is why giving a reason is always better), but the truth is that nobody can argue with your feelings. You have a right to feel how you do, and you are not wrong! Don’t try to soften the blow by listing all the things you enjoyed or liked about the other person - as that can prove confusing for them. Be brief, but unshakable.

However you finish things, the worst mistake you can make is to waver. That gives your ex hope, and will be stressful for you. If you aren’t 100% convinced you want to end things, don’t rush into it. Take a week away from the relationship, or spend a weekend with friends instead. When you know it’s the right decision, it will be easier for both of you.

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