Straight Talk Advice

Jul 22, 2009

Don’t be a flake, break up properly

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I’ve been going out with my boyfriend since last September. But recently I’ve met someone at work who I like better and we have been flirting. The problem is I do not know how to break up with my boyfriend. He thinks we are “very much in love” even though I’m not anymore. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through! He is so nice and I know it will hurt his feelings a lot. Each day it just gets worse with me making excuses for not seeing him and pretending everything is okay, while feeling guilty because I am dying over this other guy. What is the best way to say it’s over? — “Chantelle” from Clearlake, CA

Brie 18, Ashland, OR Ask me a question

I wish there was a graceful way, but as far as I know, he’ll be hurt any way you do it. It’s best to just be honest and let him know the feelings are no longer mutual. But you must do this in person. Technology has its perks, but breaking up over the phone or by text is a lousy way to end things.

Maureen 17, Redding, CA Ask me a question

You’ve done the hardest part already, and that is deciding what you want. Definitely do not tell him you are interested in someone else. This will make him feel he wasn’t special and is easily replaced. If you are having difficulty getting up the nerve it might be easiest over the phone, but anything less personal than that, such as instant message, text, or email, is rude. I can’t give you word-for-word advice, but assure him that you enjoyed your time together, that he didn’t do anything wrong, that you are just young and need new experiences in order to grow up. Don’t be surprised if it hits you harder than you expect though. You can never fully prepare for a break-up.

Peter 22, Monterey, CA Ask me a question

There’s no good way to break up. No matter what you say, he’s going to feel how he’s going to feel. That’s why it’s called breaking up and not “happy separation party time.” At least if you’re honest, he’ll respect you for it. Heartache is part of the growing-up process.

Ashley 20, Auburn, CA Ask me a question

Your boyfriend probably already suspects you are going to break up with him. When I broke up with my boyfriend I never told him there was anyone else, but I wish I had since he found out anyway. Yes, it’s going to hurt no matter what, but lying and having him find out the truth later will hurt worse. Don’t lead him on. Make it clear that it’s final. That will help him move on from you.

Hannah 17, Auburn, CA Ask me a question

Since you guys have been together for such a long time and he is “crazy in love”, you owe him an honest conversation. I’ve hurt some ex-boyfriends by just letting it fade away and not talking to them anymore. The best way is to sit him down and tell him of your changing feelings. But don’t tell him you like someone else. That’s just unneeded hurt that has no helpful value for either of you.

DEAR CHANTELLE: Let me get this straight. You’re attracted to someone else so you want to split up with your boyfriend and create the opportunity to explore something new? Congratulations, this is the proper way to do things! But only if you actually break up before the new thing starts — as opposed to letting things progress because you’re too weak or flakey to tell a difficult truth. When presenting any truth, ask yourself: Is this truth necessary? Is it helpful? Is it kind? Too much information (in your case, sharing that you find someone else more attractive) usually bombs everywhere.

Editor’s Web Note: Breaking up is one of the hardest things we all go through—regardless of which end you’re on. Summertime comes with a lot of breakups for young people and though there are “50 ways to leave your lover”, most of them are pretty flakey! I hope today’s column inspires more people to learn how to face a difficult truth compassionately and see it as part of growing up.—Lauren

  1. By Arthas, age , from Huntington Park, CA on 08/11/2009

    All of you guys have the right idea breakup r are never easy to fa ce with. Be ho nest a bou t how you f bu t do nt tel l h im thats hes being repla ce d. He d ererves that much. Hell get through it but do it in person its not cool having to find out any other way sorry wierd spelling i was typing on a cellphone. X )

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