past few weeks weíve discussed some of the important issues with
regard to being
single, becoming more assertive, finding someone
to date, and getting
to know the character of this new potential lover. Of course this
leads to the ultimate decision - are they a keeper, or not?
when you realize what youíve found is not what you really had in mind?
Now you have to find a way to end it - which can be even more difficult
than finding them in the first place!
to grade school, most people "broke up" through someone else.
Suzyís friend Marcy would tell Donís friend Joey that Suzy wanted to
break up with Don. Why? A fear of having to be straight up,
uncomfortable with the possibility sheíd hurt him, etc. etc. Then as
these youngsters "grow up", they find other ways to
communicate this without involving friends.
primitive technique is what I call The Weenie Way. This is where Suzy
just flat out stops calling Don. She doesnít return his calls or
email, and hopes heíll just get the idea and give up on her. Or Bill
goes out on a few dates with Nancy, then simply never calls her again.
Many adults still use the Weenie Way as a form of avoidance rather than
being direct and upfront.
thereís the old Make them hate me routine. If I am cold enough,
donít have time for them anymore, and do things that will make them
angry enough, theyíll stop calling me and I wonít have to be the one
to break up!
Of course we
canít leave out the Drop subtle hints for what seems like forever
version of breaking up. If we donít show a lot of enthusiasm, seem to
be slowly losing interest, and just kind of hint around, maybe theyíll
get a clue. Closely related to this is the Maybe Iím just not ready
for a relationship technique, suggesting the reason youíre thinking
about not being in a relationship is you; your lifestyle, your job, your
inability to get too involved - itís not them.
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All of these
approaches reflect a sorry state of immaturity, but still happen
everyday around us anyway.
It is my
belief that the more direct you are, the more open and honest from the
beginning, the easier it is to break up in a manner that leaves a mutual
respect and sometimes a friendship intact. When a failed relationship
ends in an explosion of hurt, anger, and resentment, it's usually
because one partner either adopts one of the above approaches to
breaking up or (worse yet ) totally shocks the other person with a
sudden, out-of-the-blue, statement that they want to end it.
relationship doesnít seem to be heading the way you want it to be
going, itís not that unreasonable to communicate your thoughts and
feelings as you see it begin to unravel. But when you act like
everything is perfect because youíre afraid of hurting them, then you
drop the bomb, well, thatís when people snap!
There is an
art to breaking up, just like there is in meeting people. If you become
comfortable with honest, firm, but non-assailing communication, you can
begin and end relationships without all the turmoil and grief that some
right time to end it? That, of course, is different for everyone. For
example, if you arenít really ready to get too serious and be on a
timeline to get married, then maybe youíd date someone youíll know
youíd never marry for a little longer. But when you feel the other
person is getting more involved and wants much more than you and you
sense an imbalance occurring, itís time to start communicating how you
see things progressing and your thoughts about your future together.
relationship starts off on the wrong foot, and you feel itís too much
work for the amount of pleasure, Iíd end it sooner than later. Too
many people are way too patient, and spend years in a series of high
maintenance relationships that should have been terminated early on. The
timing issue is never a simple one since there are many variables in
each relationship. So instead of trying to pinpoint when you should
break up, Iíd rather leave you with one thought about HOW you do it.
- communicate from the beginning about every thought and feeling you
have about your new relationship. But do keep a dialogue going on a
regular basis about what you want, how you see things are going, and
what direction youíre heading. If and when your new relationhip
falters and itís time to end it, it shouldnít be a surprise to
either of you.
need to protect this person from the truth that you want out - they can
handle it. They may be hurt or disappointed, but you arenít so awesome
that they wonít be able to live without you. Theyíll get over it.
You owe it to them, and to you, to not let it drag on forever. Donít
take the Weenie Way out - tell them how you feel. In the long run
theyíll respect you more, wonít slash your tires, and hopefully find
it in their heart to salvage a friendship out of it.
P.S. - David LeClaire is available for
speaking engagements on a range of topics, including "Finding The
Right Partner" and "Keeping Love Alive". He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information can also be found at his web
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