Need advice for gentle break-up


#1

Hello,

I have decided that my long-distance relationship of one year should end for our mutual benefit. Our relationship was off-on, has been financially involved, includes language and cultural barriers (yes, we met on the internet), and my family and friends do not support this. I am simply tired of trying to make something like this work when my emotional needs are not met.

I'm afraid this may come as a shock to my friend. He has told me repeatedly that he counts on me, that we have a big chance for being together, that we should be living together within one year, that he is prepared to sacrifice for me.

This is the last episode in a short but memorable string of ineffective relationships. For right now, it's way more important that I get myself right with God before diving into dating again...

I feel terribly guilty already about having to end this relationship. I know it's not 100% my fault for its failure, and it kills me that he doesn't see the problems here (or doesn't want to see them.)

My last big break-up was amidst mental illness and verbally abusive responses to my decision, so I'm naturally a bit shy about approaching this again. Nobody likes dumping or being dumped, but I'm pretty sure this is a good decision. Do you have any advice about how to go about this?

Thanks in advance, catherine


#2

I'm not sure if it's financially possible for you, but one of the nicest ways to break up with someone is in person. It shows him, he meant a lot to you. Although if you haven't meet him yet in person, it might change the situation quite a bit. Most importantly, be honest why you want to break up. People crave closure in situations like these. Nobody is perfect at this, but they can be charitable when going about it.


#3

Do you have any advice about how to go about this?

The best advice is to keep it simple; whatever method of telling him you use (phone; letter; face to face) you should try and keep it to the point and not distract away from it; so - simply tell him that you feel the relationship is not working. It is unfair on the other person if you have a longwinded discussion before getting to the point -- explain that you do not feel that the relationship is working and that you have decided that it is best that it ends; give your reasons for this and that's that.

If the other person is verbally abusive or rude just walk away or hang up the phone. They are an adult they should be able to handle adult situations.


#4

Dear Friend,

When I wrote to a Catholic forum for advice, I realized I already knew what to say:

I have decided that my long-distance relationship of one year should end for our mutual benefit. Our relationship has been off-on, has been financially involved, includes language and cultural barriers, and my family and friends do not support this.

I’m afraid this may come as a shock to you. . You have told me repeatedly that you count on me, that we have a big chance for being together, that we should be living together within one year, and that you are prepared to sacrifice for me. But I am simply tired of trying to make something like this work.

This is the last episode in a short but memorable string of ineffective relationships. For right now, it’s way more important that I get myself right with God before diving into dating again…

I feel terribly guilty about having to end this relationship.

My last big break-up was amidst mental illness and verbally abusive responses to my decision, so I’m naturally a bit shy about approaching this again.

catherine


#5

I’ve been in three long-distance relationships (included one that lasted many years and ended in marriage) and have known lots of others in them, too.

Do not feel guilty about ending the relationship. Even if you are engaged, you are not bound to stay with someone who would like to marry you. If the goal of the relationship is marriage, and you realize you aren’t going to consent to marry the person, the relationship is over. Once you know the relationship is not going to end in marriage, you need to say so.

There are better and worse ways to do this, but not any that are guaranteed to be gentle. How “gentle” the news is depends almost entirely on whether he feels in a similar way. Get used to the idea that your boyfriend may not go quietly, no matter what you do. He may do desparate things to keep you from leaving, no matter what you do. (He may also share your conclusion, to an almost disappointing degree!)

Give your reasons, if you want to, but do not give reasons for your reasons.. The only reason you really need, though, is this: “We knew when we started this that long-distance relationships are very hard and that they usually don’t work. I have to admit this to you: ours didn’t work. It doesn’t need fixing. It just didn’t work. Maybe it would have worked in the same city, maybe we would have the same outcome, but that is a moot point. I’m sorry, but it’s over. I care about how you feel about it, of course I’m willing to listen to your reaction, but I’m not up for a discussion. I’m not going to change my mind. There is nothing that a discussion of that point is going to accomplish.”

If (maybe I should say when) your reasons are questioned, you need to say, “John, my reasons are not up for discussion. My decision is not up for discussion. We’ve had a relationship for a long time, you are a good guy, I still respect you, and you deserve to know from me when it is over. What I’m not going to do, though, is have a discussion over whether or not it is over. It is. I’m sorry. I never wanted to hurt you. But now that it is over, telling you that and letting us each move on in our own way is the only way to deal with it. There isn’t anything I can say that will make it any easier. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. I hope you find that someone you’re looking for. I wish you all the best.”

After that, I’m sorry, but you need to cut off communication on the topic. You might even say, “John, I don’t know if ‘just friends’ is even possible for people who were considering marriage–and if you think I would ever dream ‘living together’ did not mean ultimately mean marriage, think again–I don’t know. I think it would be better if we cut off communication for the time being.”

Also, remember that you can say “I’m sorry” in the sense that “I feel for you” or “I wish you didn’t have to go through this.” That is not the same as “I’m sorry, this is my fault, I am guilty.” The hurt of this is something you both hazarded. Unless you lied to him, you have nothing to feel guilty about.


#6

It may be better to break up in person, certainly it should not be done by e-mail, but a phone call may be better than flying all the way to who-knows-where for a very short conversation. I don't know that I'd feel a need to go to him to break up unless it was a town in which I knew other people. I certainly wouldn't allow him to travel to see you again, if it could be avoided.

IOW, tell your boyfriend what you have to say before he pays for another plane ticket to see you. Be very clear when you break up that you are not going to talk to him about getting back together, even if he comes to see you in person, walks on water, or hires a sky-writer.

Honestly, I think the best thing to do would be to break it to him directly as soon as you can bring it up in your next regularly-scheduled call.

It is over. Do not pretend otherwise, even with yourself, but especially not with him. Start acting accordingly, starting right now.

Oh, and schedule yourself some time with other friends for the day you do it, after you have talked to him. You may need to de-brief, and you certainly will need to be with someone you feel comfortable with.

Plan on having zero alcohol yourself, but otherwise something a little bit nicer than normal isn't a bad idea. Mostly, a place where you can talk about nothing in particular for a very long time...or maybe be more emotional than you thought you would be with someone you trust. You aren't guilty of anything, but that doesn't mean it won't be normal to feel bad. Or relieved and free. Or both....


#7

This is really good advice!


#8

I've been in three long-distance relationships (included one that lasted many years and ended in marriage) and have known lots of others in them, too.

Do not feel guilty about ending the relationship. Even if you are engaged, you are not bound to stay with someone who would like to marry you. If the goal of the relationship is marriage, and you realize you aren't going to consent to marry the person, the relationship is over. Once you know the relationship is not going to end in marriage, you need to say so.

Thank you for reminding me. I have felt guilty, and did express hope for marriage in the future - after all, isn't that the point of dating? - but it's clear to me that I cannot consent to such with him. My decision is made; I just have to prepare a bit. I know this decision will be best for both of us. I think he could make a very good husband, just not for me!

"We knew when we started this that long-distance relationships are very hard and that they usually don't work. I have to admit this to you: ours didn't work. It doesn't need fixing. It just didn't work. Maybe it would have worked in the same city, maybe we would have the same outcome, but that is a moot point. I'm sorry, but it's over. I care about how you feel about it, of course I'm willing to listen to your reaction, but I'm not up for a discussion. I'm not going to change my mind. There is nothing that a discussion of that point is going to accomplish."

Thank you for giving me pointers about firmness. My last break-up was a lot messier because we "debated" a lot. Making a decision and sticking to it is the best policy, at least in this case.

Oh, and schedule yourself some time with other friends for the day you do it, after you have talked to him. You may need to de-brief, and you certainly will need to be with someone you feel comfortable with.

I am in a very in-between state socially, but I am pretty sure I can call up some old friends...just to remind myself that I am not alone in this world :)

Thanks!


#9

[quote="monicatholic, post:4, topic:208172"]
Dear Friend,

When I wrote to a Catholic forum for advice, I realized I already knew what to say:

I have decided that my long-distance relationship of one year should end for our mutual benefit. Our relationship has been off-on, has been financially involved, includes language and cultural barriers, and my family and friends do not support this.

I'm afraid this may come as a shock to you. . You have told me repeatedly that you count on me, that we have a big chance for being together, that we should be living together within one year, and that you are prepared to sacrifice for me. But I am simply tired of trying to make something like this work.

This is the last episode in a short but memorable string of ineffective relationships. For right now, it's way more important that I get myself right with God before diving into dating again...

I feel terribly guilty about having to end this relationship.

My last big break-up was amidst mental illness and verbally abusive responses to my decision, so I'm naturally a bit shy about approaching this again.

catherine

[/quote]

^^ Brilliant. :)


#10

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