Way back in 1975 Paul Simon (ace folk/soft rock singer and biggest selling solo artist on the planet) sang a song about how to break off a relationship, "50 ways to leave your lover."
Paul Simon didn't cover anything like that number of ways but it was a great song which still speaks to us today.
The problem of how to break a relationship is as old as relationships themselves. The Sixties classic, "Breaking up is hard to do" Neil Sedaka 1962 says it all. Enough, enough, get on with it, no more pop nostalgia, please!
OK, no matter how you are dumped, the way that it is done can tell you a lot about the person doing the dumping. If they really cared about you then they will try to do it kindly, with empathy and understanding. If they didn't care that much then a text message is now often thought to be the best way to go. This is never a good way to end a relationship.
The length and depth of the relationship is relevant but the principle is the same
Clearly, the length and depth of the relationship is key to the choice of methods that are appropriate. Ending a 20 year marriage is a whole heap different from closing down a three or four date relationship. The impending death of a marriage is usually well signposted for at least one of you. Making the first move into a divorce is a whole different thing as it involves so much more than a relationship between two people. However, the thoughts below are just as relevant.
In a life after divorce dating world breaking up and recovery skills are likely to be very important and rather frequently used. Clearly, the earlier in the relationship a break up occurs the easier it is to do. If you feel your relationship is not really going anywhere and you are looking for a serious relationship then don't just keep things going for the time being. That is just not fair. Best to break up now before one of your gets really hurt.
Here are some thoughts to help guide you to do this in a way that is both civilised and practical.
Do it in person
This is never going to be the easy way to do it. Ending it in person shows that you have respect for the person and for the relationship. Judging the moment and the situation in which to say the words is always so important in doing things properly.
Decide which day would be best to break the news. If she or he's very emotional and you think that the break up will be heartbreaking, Friday is a good day. This gives the weekend to start recovering and the opportunity to spend time with friends.
Do it in the right location
The location is another difficult and important decision. Don't do it at your place, that's cruel and callous. It leaves the dumpee with a lonely journey home. The best solution is a neutral place where both of you would be comfortable to express your feelings, like a walk in the country or in a park. There's time to talk and something to do rather than just feel trapped staring at each other across a room or even worse still a restaurant table.
Say what you feel, why you feel that way and why that's a deal breaker. The tired cliché, "it's not you, it's me" just doesn't cut it and is a weak cop out that he or she does not deserve. Be kind and honest about what was good in the relationship as well as what did not work. Judge carefully how much detail it is wise to give.
If you are leaving this relationship to start another straight away then think very carefully if this needs to be mentioned and also if not how to answer the question "Is there someone else?" The honest answer may be hurtful but it's going to be the right answer.
"Can we still be friends?"
In many ways it's a tribute to the relationship to enable your friendship can survive the collapse of the romance. Don't say "Yes" unless you really mean it. Any break up will take time to morph into a platonic friendship and can only work if both of you really mean it. If one of you is using this as a cover for trying to get back together it will spell disaster. And remember that girlfriends or boyfriends morphing into friends can be misunderstood in the context of your next relationship. Be aware of this and be honest about it!