Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.
I’m planning on breaking up with my boyfriend of eighteen months, Harris. He is a little high-strung (not violent or anything like that) and I am worried about how he will take it. I’m going to be honest and tell him why I don’t want to be with him anymore, which is because I don’t see a future for us long term due to some of his behaviors. What’s the best way to manage this awkward moment?
The most common letter we receive here at the Hard to Say offices is how to let someone down easy. This does not apply to our LW, but if you really care about someone you do not let them down easy. This goes for if the reason is not something like, “The proportions of your body disgust me.” That kind of information you can keep inside you : it is subjective and unlikely to affect your boyfriend’s next relationship.
The most common reason couples break up is that the attraction is gone. For some reason, people are reticent to say this, due to various environmental factors that associate a lack of attractiveness with an inherent ugliness. People get bored of each other’s bodies, even very beautiful people who starred in the 2011 smash Limitless. When this happens, the underlying reason is usually not physical at all. An exciting woman is attractive even if she has a different shape or size. If this is the reason you are dumping Harris, you should tell him that. It is a verifiably innocent excuse for the breakup and he will probably get over it in three to four months and hop back on Tindr, get syphilis, and regret your departure for another three months.
If the reason you are breaking up the relationship is something more fixable, it is both dangerous but kind to tell him. For example, if his sister lives in his apartment and feels comfortable being a part of every aspect of your life including clucking comments about your wintercourse, he probably already knows what the issue is, and might offer to remedy the situation. Given your plan, you have already moved past the possibility of relationship working, so why bring it up? If you loved him, his sister would not have mattered.
As for how to accomplish this, a lot of people are into doing these things in public places. In my experience, men and women today don’t have much compunction about making a scene. Justin Long manages it on a biannual basis. This can backfire: your ex-SO will realize that the moment you walk away, this is seriously going to be over and he will never see your gorgeous face again. This incentivizes him to keep you there, which is nothing like the outcome you were hoping for.
Instead, you want to pick a moment where you know with absolute certainty that he is going to separate from you. At that time you can do the lion’s share of the breakup and finish it over later via text or phone. Always cry yourself — it is very important that he know or believe you are as affected by what is occurring as he is.
Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.