One of the biggest issues I see my girlfriends facing is when and how to let guys go. Thoughts I’ve heard over and over:
- How do I know he’s not “The One”?
- I'm sure he didn’t mean those terrible things he said
- But if I just say one more thing, the right thing, he’ll change his mind!
I think part of this insecurity about how to let go comes from watching far too many romantic comedies, something that I’m just as guilty as everyone else of doing. Think about it - the traditional romcom features a courtship stage, a great relationship, and a fight/breakup/conflict of some sort, followed by one party reaching out on a wing and a prayer, hoping their Hail Mary play will win back the one they realize just might be “The One.”
Disney corrupted us pretty much from birth, training us that
we should expect our princes to come rescue us. And now, thanks to Meg Ryan,
Julia Roberts, and our other favorite leading ladies, we think that we have to rescue our relationships. WE
DON’T. Sometimes, just cutting your losses is your smartest course of action.
Don’t feel guilty about moving on to the bigger-and-better if:
- You’re consistently unhappy.
- They’ve cut you loose first.
- They’re consistently negative, abusive, “mean,” drinks or uses other substances too much for your comfort level (this doesn’t make you prudish, I promise).
- You’ve been cheated on or they’ve cheated on someone with you (and the latter doesn’t mean they love you ).
- You can ask yourself, “What if this situation had happened between my best friend and her man? What advice would I give her?” and you’d honestly still recommend cutting and running.
While maintaining a relationship is work, maintaining breakups can be, too. Since we’re all human and therefore don’t have an emotional on/off switch, missing your S.O., the future you’d started to plan with them, and the routines you had had together is completely and totally normal. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should be a relationship recidivist.
Here are a few ways to still make your break as clean as possible:
1. Make a decision you feel pretty good about and follow through on it.
2. If you’re doing the breaking-up, then face-to-face, or at least over the phone, tell them you’re done and why. Try not to be crappy, petty, or overly-bitchy. Unless they already know why you’re peacing out, that is, and then by all means skip to #3.
3. Don’t return calls, texts, Facebook communications, emails, or Skype requests. You’ve cut things off and need to stand by your decision - mixed messages will get you nowhere but unhappy. If you’ve been broken up with and you think it’s due to a miscommunication, allow yourself one free pass to reach out to your ex. If they’re really interested in getting back together, they’ll respond. Otherwise, at least you know for sure where you stand.
4. Don’t initiate communication, either. Breakups are often preceded by something negative - so remember why you broke up in the first place. Remind yourself that continuing to reach out after a breakup looks desperate, and desperation = vulnerability - you’re just asking to be taken advantage of. If all else fails, don’t go Carrie Underwood on his ride or anything, but get mad, mad enough that your own temper won’t let you say anything (e.g. “Oh, he doesn’t think I’m worth his time? Well, FINE! He’s not worth MINE!”).
If you’re looking at getting back with your ex, give yourself at least a month, and then check out my tips for “green dating” to help decide if it’s a good idea or not.