A reader wonders the best way to break up with her boyfriend who is still in love with his ex and using her as a rebound.
“My boyfriend recently insinuated to me that I’m a rebound and that he missed his ex. Since then, I’ve limited contacting him. I’ve noticed that he tries to find ways to get angry with me over what I say, so he can justify distancing himself from me. There’s no break up talk, but I have a hard time moving on.
Should I just stop talking to him completely with no notice or just break up with him by text? I’m not even sure he deserves it since he’s stringing me along. It’s hard, but I know I deserve better.
I just don’t want to burn any bridges. What’s the best way to approach this?”
I’m really sorry to hear that you’re planning on breaking up— it’s super disappointing to find out that any relationship you were once hopeful about isn’t going to go the distance.
As far as your question— the kindest way to handle any breakup is to have a conversation where the other person can actually respond to you in real time.
Face to face is the most honorable way to break up, seconded by calling him. For some tips and pointers on how to make this breakup as painless as possible for yourself, I lay out the exact steps for how to break up gracefully here.
I understand the urge to want to take your hurt feelings and ride into the sunset, but texting, emailing, ghosting, smoke signals and carrier pigeons just aren’t really honorable ways to tell someone you don’t want to see them anymore.
When you participate in these things, you’re simply adding to the social and cultural problems we’re having with less connection and kindness.
The reasons WHY you are breaking up just don’t have much to do with the best way to break up.
Even though your boyfriend misses his ex, that doesn’t mean he’s automatically a monster who deserves to be ghosted. While I understand that his level of investment with you might not be enough for you to want to continue a relationship with him, it doesn’t entitle you to treat him (or anyone) carelessly.
Since you probably wouldn’t want someone you once enjoyed spending time with to straight up ghost you— it’s not okay for you to do it to someone else.
However you conduct yourself during a breakup is a reflection on who YOU are, not who the other person is. If you conduct yourself honorably— by doing the face-to-face breakup or calling— you are making yourself more likely to attract honorable treatment from others in the future and your self respect stays firmly intact.
The other thing is— the weirdest things bother us later on. If you break up with him honorably, you are ensuring that the way you did it— kindly— won’t bug you one day when he’s a distant memory, but you’re mad at yourself for being mean.
I STILL think back— years later— to jerky things I did in relationships with people I no longer talk to and regret some of the shoddy and unkind ways I handled things back then.
Never once have I thought, “I should have been more unkind.”
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