How To Let Him Down Gently

by Maggie Quigley

When it’s over, it is most certainly over. You cannot stand the sight of him, you hate his laugh and every time your phone goes off with a text from him you groan in exasperation. How can you get this guy to get a clue? My rule for break-ups – of which I’ve had plenty – is that I never want to leave someone worse off than when I found them.

This means trying my hardest not to take any cheap shots, holding back from insults and explaining that a break-up, most of the time, is simply because two people aren’t compatible.

It is hard sometimes to distinguish between the idea that you just are not right for someone else, and thinking that you are inferior or not good enough. But I strongly believe that people are just wrong for each other sometimes and, in that case, you just need to end it.

The break-up has almost become the punch line for dating nowadays. People pride themselves for utilizing the most insulting and humiliating methods for dumping one another. Insulting Facebook statuses are posted, cars are vandalized and “private” pictures once exchanged during happier times in the relationship suddenly appear on ex-revenge websites.

Suffice to say, that’s fucked up.

Sure, it is easy to be bitter once a relationship has run its course. Maybe he did not pay as much attention to you as he should have. Or maybe he was clingy and did not respect your need for independence. But no matter how terrible the relationship was, there is a reason you need to let him down gently. In fact, there might even be a few.

A bad reputation is hard to shake.

Even though you might share a few giggles with friends after publicly shaming your ex-boyfriend, it will not be worth the potential fall-out. As quickly as the population grows, a combination of globalization and connectivity are gradually making our world smaller. So damn tiny that you cannot possibly anticipate the connections that you will make in the future.

One night at a bar in my hometown, I met a handsome older gentleman, Fernando. Regardless of the fact that he was 14 years older than me, once I saw his Facebook I realized that he had a connection to one of my best friends, a big-shot fraternity brother at my school. Crazy.

Even if all common sense suggests otherwise, you never know who knows somebody, and that this person could wind up being an important part of your life. If you make a name for yourself as that crazy bitch with no self-control, you might find yourself forever labeled “Undateable.” This experience is certainly not worth the five minutes of pleasure you will feel in humiliating your ex boyfriend.

We are  firm believers here at Elite that no relationship is ever truly over. You may “get over” an ex, and you may even stop talking to an old best friend from high school for a while. But with the increasingly common propensity for people to walk around with WiFi enabled smart technology, we become more amenable to keeping in touch. It is now easy to text that girl you went to camp with in 4th grade, even if you could care less where she’s graduating from in spring.

And if an ex boyfriend texts you, the chances of chatting just to catch up go up drastically. Who knows how you will feel months or years after a break-up? Maybe if you were not compatible together as boyfriend and girlfriend, you two could make fantastic friends. Your ex could have an opportunity to really help you out. And if you covered that bridge with gasoline before torching it with a smile, you’ll be totally out of luck.

One of my closest friends is a guy I dated four years ago. This summer, he helped me land the best apartment I have ever seen – more luxurious than I possibly could have imagined finding for myself. If our relationship had ended with us hating each other, I would be living in a cardboard box. Or the FIT dorms. Yuck.

While it is important to move on from those who hold you back, try to never sever your ties with anyone completely. People are dynamic and constantly change. Just because you two were not a good fit in college, does not mean you will never speak after graduation. Keep an open mind, and look to the future.

Honesty is the best policy, but sometimes a little white lie is just plain necessary. In situations where you can tell a man really loves you, but you are not on the same page, it is best to set this guy free. But instead of saying, “Look, I don’t love you and I don’t care about you,” sugarcoat your statement with the same motive and the same effect.

Rather than making him feel terrible about himself, explain that you two are simply not meant for each other. Focus on an undeniable difference between you two, something that cannot be fixed. If the relationship is ending, there probably is a reason, so cite this as an example of your incompatibility:

We’ve been together for a while and I’m happy about the time we spent together. But I don’t think we’re a perfect match. Even our senses of humor just don’t overlap. I know you’ll find someone better suited for you, and I want you to be happy, but this is over.

Any separation is painful and hard to adjust to at first. Chances are, your significant other will not take being dumped too kindly. You may even have a Stage-5 Clinger on your hands. Just remember: you do not owe anybody anything.

Every decision you make is an opportunity for you to move forward. Do not allow anybody to hold you back, even if you are sympathetic to the cause.Worst comes to worst, block all forms of communication and do your best to give him the space he needs.

If there’s potential for a friendship, he will come around to realize it. If not, you are better off for it. It might be a little harder to take the high road – frustration in a dying relationship makes it easy to freak out while seriously losing your temper. But in order to preserve any shred of friendship and understanding between two people, take the extra steps to end things on a good note.

Maggie Quigley | Elite.