Tuesday, August 21, 2007

HOW TO LOSE A LOVER


A GUIDE TO DUMPING SOMEONE

Since launching my site - soyouvebeendumped.com, I have seen just about every type of dumping story you could possibly imagine. Hours of debating the 'best way to leave your lover' have gone by. Hundreds of posts have been written about whether it is better (in the long run) to be cruelly dumped or to be let down gently. Regardless of the situation, there is no cut and dry solution and no matter which way it is done – some amount of pain is inevitable.

My intent in writing this article is show that though there are no “good ways” to dump someone there are certainly “lesser evils”. It's been an article I've been writing for years and been meaning to finish for a long time. It's maybe an article that will never truly be finished but here goes nothing...

NO GOOD WAY TO SAY GOODBYE

I am a firm believer that there is never a good way to break-up with someone you care about. I have been both a dumper and a dumpee in my time, so I do realise that most dumpers do experience at least a little pain before and after they do it (even when you see no evidence to support that fact.)

When it seems like your ex is “over it” so swiftly – it indicates that they have been thinking about it for a long, long time (days, weeks, months and in some cases I’ve seen on the site even years). So try not to assume that they’ve done it without batting an eye. While it may seem “out of the blue” – the dumper has actually been contemplating an exit for a lot longer than you might assume.

SOME TYPES:

GUILLOTINE DUMP

This type of break up tends to be one where this no going back. It’s totally harsh and your relationship is well and truly severed.

There is a high probability you’ve been treated poorly and most likely lied to. Or there could be another person involved (there often is another person involved!)

You simply will have been betrayed in some way. The person ending it though tends to ensure there is no possiblility of getting back together. You are officially in ex-territory. No grey areas here.

Harsh as they are to come to terms with, they’re often easier to recover from because, if you’re smart, have any self-worth and want to keep your dignity – you won’t even consider wanting, someone capable of such action, back.

THE SOFT SPLIT

This type of break up is more unclear, even wishy-washy, leaving the dumpee to harbour hopes of reconciliation. The hope is what ties us to the ex long after they're gone.

The dumper spouts those platitudes of needing "time/space", how they're "not ready yet" and often say it's their fault not yours...."You're wonderful..." blah blah blah,...

All the while, you sit there thinking, "if I am so wonderful, why are you dumping me?" Or "why aren't we still together?"

NICE VS JERK

I can only speak from my own experiences (and to those I have witnessed on the site), but it is often easier getting over the cruel (“no hope”) dumping than it is getting over the "nice" person’s split.

I once had a guillotine dumping, (arguably the most painful experience of my life), but in spite of it all, I never asked for him back. I never even once asked him to re-consider or wanted him back.

I hurt, of course, but I figured if he was capable of dumping me the way that he did (over the phone and for someone else), he wasn’t worth me pining over him so, off on the road to recovery I went!

A subsequent split was the opposite – where the guy kept telling me I was the “single most interesting person" he’d ever met and that he had been "happier with" me than he had ever been. Do you know what? Hearing that did not at all make the pain any less. He apologised profusely for hurting me, but never really gave me a good explanation to why he ended it. To this day, many years later, I am still none the wiser.

While he was trying to let me down “gently”, I think it made it worse. It actually gave me hope that because he cared so greatly for me, I could change his mind and convince him we could be together!

So I broke the cardinal SYBD rule and tried to be his “friend” – meanwhile it prolonged my healing process tenfold. Something that took two years to get over would have taken a few months had not I kept trying to win him back by being Miss Wonderful.

If when he ended it, he just said: 1) “I don't fancy you” 2) “I am seeing someone new” or even 3) “You’re too stupid/ugly/old/whatever” or 4) “I like you as a friend, but not romantically” 5) "You're not the same religion as me so this won't work" --- (OR whatever else it could've been)...I could have ditched the hope, gotten angry, and then got over it and moved on.

As a result of his not wanting me to hate him, and his desire to be a “good guy”, he kept doing nice things for me. He'd email me daily, make me compilation mixes, tape movies off the film channels for me, etc, and so I simply rationalized his behaviour for the following year (or so).

I'd say - "see, he really *does* like me, he just can't handle it, that's all" or "Maybe he will realise how fantastic I am and come around." Oh and let's not forget the "If he didn't like me still, he wouldn't do X, Y, Z for me" rationale....There I was, rather mistakenly, thinking that if I was patient and remained his "friend" and constant supporter, then perhaps he would realise we should be dating after all.

You know what? Not only did he never come to that conclusion but he married the next girl dated…

THE VANISHING ACT

A word to those with itchy feet....In my opinion, one of the worst types of break ups is the vanishing act. One day they’re there and the next day they’re not. It’s the equivalent of someone going out for a pack of ciggies (or some ice cream) and never coming back. It happens far too often on SYBD for my liking and there really is no good excuse for behaving this way.

The dumpee’s worries range from “what did I do wrong?”, “what could I have said to have a different outcome?” to "Oh my gosh, has something horrible happened?" a la “is he/she dead and lying in a ditch somewhere?”

It's just not fair, or humane, especially when all emails, texts, phone calls, voicemails go totally ignored. And anyone who’s ever posted on SYBD will know my view of ignoring people. I am of the opinion that it is the cruellest, most rude thing possible.

By the way, this isn't just aimed at you disappearing dumpers out there. In fact, on a daily basis, I say it even to dumpees who are ignoring their exes. While I am the first to advise having "No Contact" with an ex - that only works once all things have been said and practicalties sorted. I seldom think ignoring someone is ok. It’s just one of my major pet peeves in life. OK, so call me "quirky", but damn I hate to be ignored. Actually, I think everyone does...particularly if it's by someone you once shared something special with.

So if you once cared even an iota for this person, resist the temptation to just vanish. Avoid ignoring them too. Have the decency to say a proper “goodbye” and tell them why you’re doing it. Don't just randomly dump them off your buddy list, block them on Facebook, or update your online dating profile without saying "cheerio" to your former honey.

Come one, it won’t kill you. And no, it won’t kill them to hear it. No one is irreplaceable. Not even you. So get some emotional integrity, and dump with dignity, honesty and courtesy – not cowardly.

Later on in this article I’ll talk about how those good endings make for good beginnings.

SO YOU WANNA BREAK UP – MY TIPS

Here at SYBD, as the name would imply, it’s mostly people who have already been dumped that visit. Sometimes, though, we get questions from people who want to end a relationship, for whatever reason, and as there aren’t a lot of resources to help someone end it – I thought I’d offer some tips on how to do it with some sensitivity. This is the first in a series of articles about dumping someone.

Naturally, once again, there is never nice time or way of being dumped – but there certainly are some ways to end it that are better than others…

DO IT IN PERSON!

One online poll on soyouvebeendumped.com showed that nearly half (45%) of those dumpees surveyed were dumped in person. Not bad but it could be better…

If you need to end a relationship, whenever possible, sit the person down face-to-face and do it. Ok, in some cases you may live far away, so other forms of communication might be necessary, but if possible – try to do it face-to-face.

If you’re unable to do it in person, aim to do it over the phone and not via email. While it is tempting to do it over the phone, via email, do a ‘vanishing act’, or maybe even an SMS message to their phone - it’s not treating the person with any respect.

Again we are speaking generally here. I have actually ended something (not quite a relationship) via email because I knew when face-to-face with the gentleman – I’d never have done it, not because I was a coward, but because I adored being around him too much. So each time I’d see him, I’d put it off. As most of our communication took place via email, (we never spoke on the phone) it somehow seemed justified to end it that way too. I took the time to write him a long, heart-felt reason why I was ending it and how much I treasured my time with him.

But dumping by email, yeah that was not my best moment, I am woman enough to admit it. Thankfully this was years ago and we’re still friends. Also, in my defense, we weren't a committed couple anyway - just sporadically dating.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Ok, so you’ve taken my advice and you have opted to do it in person, but where? Do it somewhere neutral. Do it in private where you won’t be disturbed and will be able to answer any questions your (ex) partner may have. The living room/lounge is preferable than in bed – I am one who knows!

Some places to avoid – dinner parties, public restaurants, the pub/bar or when you have company staying with you.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

If you can, do your best to avoid breaking up on their birthday, in the middle of a vacation/holiday, just before (or DURING) their exams, or at some other important time.

One of our members was dumped over the phone on Valentine’s Day - just a few hours after her grandfather’s funeral.

Another of my esteemed members was dumped on her birthday whilst on a cruise – on day one of the cruise, no less! How clueless is that?

I know, I know, there’s never a good time to do it - but certainly there are less bad times…Just use some common sense.

ANSWER THE QUESTIONS

Whenever we get dumped, it sets of a barrage of questions: What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? Is there someone else? So be prepared, as much as you can be, to know why you are ending the relationship, what was working and what wasn’t and so forth.

If you fell out of love, then just say so. Yes it’s cruel but it’s better than lying or giving false hope.

If you fell for someone new, say so. Honestly, listen to me when I tell you this, if there is someone else, it’s best to break the news yourself, they’ll only find out eventually anyway, and it should come from you. Did you go back to your ex? Did you fall for your co-worker? Did you meet someone new? Just tell them!

If you had certain needs that were simply not getting met, say so. Maybe your ex was too busy with work, or too wrapped up in the kids, or spent too much time with their friends. If that’s the case, simply be honest.

Whatever the deal is, just aim to tell the truth and assist your ex with achieving the closure that he or she needs to move on. Though it can be challenging, especially when you don’t want to hurt the person, try to be as honest as you can about your feelings and your reasons for leaving.

One member on SYBD some years back expressed his reaction to the demise of his five year relationship:

“My ex had real trouble being direct with me when she ended it - not because she meant to hurt me deliberately, but because she didn't want to hurt my feelings. She produced about four different (and confused) reasons why she was calling it off, and tried to put the blame onto me for certain things; she was getting very defensive. Because she said she needed “time and space”, it meant that I was constantly going over in my mind what might have happened or gone wrong, and whether there was anything that I could have done differently that would have changed things. I had no closure. I could have dealt with it better if she'd just said, "look, I'm seeing someone else - I'm really sorry". Yeah, I would still have been devastated, and I'd still hate her for it, but I would feel that at least I knew why. At least she would have had the decency and courage to tell me the truth.”

BE FIRM

Kill the hope and don’t imply that this is a temporary thing. Don’t suggest that you might “just feel different in time” if you honestly know this is it. Giving false-hope that you still really care and it might still work out when you know it actually won’t is cruel and unfair. Be firm but compassionate when you let go of someone. Not being firm may result in the dumpee resorting to Herculean attempts to convince the "dumper" that the relationship is worth saving. If you don't want to be bombarded with cards, gifts, emails, phone calls, text messages and so forth, then be concise. While they might not thank you at first, in the long run –it will serve them well.

MAKE A CLEAN BREAK

Along with firmness, don’t keep the EX lined-up in case you change your mind or the new job, play mate (or what have you) doesn’t work out. It’s unfair. So if your ex is still in love with you, and is unhappy with your decision to end things, then put the friendship on hiatus until he/she heals a bit. Don’t be selfish and insist on a friendship if your ex doesn’t feel ready to downshift from lover to friend immediately. It’s not fair and it will impede your ex getting over it.

AVOID THE CLICHES

Don’t say, “It’s not you, it’s me” when it really is them. Avoid suggesting “it’s for the best” – even if it is. There’s nothing worse than hearing that at the time of the Dump!

PLAY FAIR

Don’t pick a fight with them or be really nasty so they will dump you. That’s no way to end things – it’s cruel and manipulative – even if your intentions may be good.

Let's be honest, that's just someone trying to avoid resposibility.

HAVE A SOBER SAYONARA

Try to do it when you’re both sober and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Don’t drink and dump. Emotions can be escalated during intoxication of any kind. You may think you want to break-up but the next day you might very well cringe and regret your actions. Sleep on it and if you still feel like splitting, then do so with a clear head.

MONEY MATTERS

If you’re leaving someone and there are money issues at stake, for instance, joint bank accounts, shared assets etc – then be generous. This is particularly true for those co-habitating.

Remember, if you’re upheaving their world, possibly leaving them for someone else, then compensate your ex for having to start over again. None of us likes to have the rugged pulled out from under us.

Besides starting up in a new home, having to buy new white goods and sundry items is expensive! Trust me, I know...

GOOD ENDINGS MAKE GOOD BEGINNINGS

Dr. John Gray has a chapter in Mars and Venus Starting Over that says that “good endings make good beginnings”. This is true and worth striving for. You won’t ever be able to ensure someone isn’t hurt by your decision to walk away, and there isn’t ever really a "good" way to dump someone, but there are certainly better ways than others as I’ve pointed out here.

I am one who doesn't like to burn bridges so if at all possible I do like to end things with friends and lovers on the best possible terms. You just never know when your paths may cross.

Plus if your situation has simply been a case of "bad timing" - you may actually have a shot some months or even years down the road if you've chosen to end it well.


IN SUMMARY
To re-cap, do your best to do it face to face. Be honest. Choose your timing carefully – avoid birthdays or other special times and locations too.

Be…

- Certain - that it’s over and explain your reasons as to why it's over...

- Firm – about your decision, don’t keep your ex on the back burner

- Accountable – answer any questions your partner has

- Honest – if there is someone new, tell the truth

- Considerate – Remember the golden rule – dump how you would want to be dumped (if your ex was dumping you!)

- Private – Don’t make it a public spectacle

I think that's enough for this instalment...Look out for the next instalment called, "How My Ex Could've Ended it Better" (which contains actual words/thoughts/advice from my esteemed site members).

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