When a guy and girl hit a point in their relationship where things just aren’t going to work, what’s the best way to end it?
Does there need to be some kind of formal conversation stating that it’s not going to work along with a potential explanation in order for there to be closure? I’m gonna guess a lot of girls will say, “yes.” I had another hallway conversation here at work in which a co-worker asked, “Why does it seem guys so often just ghost me–stop calling and try to fade away when a relationship isn’t working?”
I can’t remember where I read it, but I recall someone explaining that a guy often thinks it’s more honorable to quietly fade away instead of trying to formalize the end of a relationship with a conversation that might be painful. Anyone who has gone through a breakup knows how awkward it can be for people who once saw potential together to try to talk through why it isn’t going to work. It almost seems like a no-win proposition. If you’re totally candid about why you’re not a good fit, there’s a good chance you’re going to make the breakup even more painful. If on the other hand, you try to be vague and euphemistic, you end up saying one of those lines that drives everyone crazy — like, “It’s not you, it’s me,” or “God wants me to spend more time working on my relationship with Him for awhile.”
The alternative, I guess, for some guys is to let the relationship die of neglect — to hold back on any formal ending and any attempt at explanation in order to avoid the hurt that may go with it.
As someone who once took that approach — thinking it would cause the least hurt — I know now it’s not honorable. While avoiding saying something that might have caused immediate and concentrated hurt, my “fade away” ended up stretching that hurt over an extended painful time.
My encouragement to guys who see the need to end a relationship is to do the honorable thing of bringing closure. It doesn’t need to be a long, awkward unpacking of every doubt and reservation you have, but it should clearly state that you have reached the end of your “relationship” so that there is no confusion about what your status is. In a day of pseudo-relationships, this isn’t easy. It’s much more tempting to keep all your options open by “cushioning” the person and simply let a dating relationship fall back into something nebulous — a person you could still hang out with and talk about life if you want.
But that’s not healthy for anyone. If there’s anything today’s relationships need are more formal dead-ends. To get out of the maze of today’s mating system, people need to know when a path is a dead-end so they can keep their energy focused on better paths.