How to Break Up With Someone Without Being a Total Jerk

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to make things work with the person you’re dating, it just wasn’t meant to be. And while nobody should stay in a relationship that’s not making them happy, there’s still a right way and a wrong way to go about ending things. In a thread on Reddit, people have been sharing the worst ways that they have been dumped, and the effect it’s had on them, in the hopes that other people will avoid making these (often cruel and thoughtless) mistakes in their own lives.

One of the most commonly referenced breakup techniques on the thread, and easily one of the most frustrating, is ghosting. The absolute worst thing you can do to somebody is “leave and never return, don’t send any messages, block them from all social media, never tell them the reason,” according to one commenter, who added: “Losing someone who you thought was fine with you so suddenly in such a quiet and confusing way will really fuck with someone’s anxiety and self esteem.”

While ghosting is seen by many as a perfectly reasonable way to bounce when you’re only very casually seeing someone, it’s a different matter when in a serious relationship. The complete lack of closure can lead people to try and seek out answers, but that way madness lies. “Ghosting is usually a clear indication that they are unwilling or unable to give you the closure you’re seeking,” says relationships writer Lorrae Bradbury. “Perhaps they don’t know the answers themselves, or can’t communicate their feelings properly. Either way, you’re unlikely to get a straight response. You might be tempted to ask about exactly what went wrong, but it’s best to chalk it up to incompatibility and know that a better match is out there for you.”

In some extreme instances of ghosting, you don’t even realize that the relationship is over right away, because the other person was stringing you along and didn’t really consider it a relationship, as was the case with this person: ‘I found out my ex and I weren’t together after he posted an Instagram picture with his best friend of 3 years saying ‘It only took me 3 years to ask her out’.”

When breaking up with someone, you have to remember that while you’ve been thinking the decision over for some time, getting used to the idea, it’s brand new information to them, and the news will almost always come as an abrupt shock — so a cavalier delivery can come off as heartless (via text message for instance).

And that shock is compounded the longer you wait. “My college roommate spent an entire weekend with his girlfriend from another state knowing he was going to break up with her,” reads one comment. “When he took her to drop off at the train station on Sunday, he waited until she was leaning in with the car door open to kiss him goodbye. Broke the news instead of kissing her, didn’t even unbuckle and get out. She stood there stunned with bags on the curb and he closed the door and drove off.”

If you’re mentally checked out of a relationship, you might already think you’re in a place where you can start pursuing or even sleeping with other people, even if you haven’t actually broken things off yet. Some men actually do this as a way to end things, as being caught cheating is seen as less “work” than having to sit and talk about your feelings. I don’t know who might need to hear it, but… don’t do this, guys.

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