Although Paul Simon made a hit with his song “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover”, “get on the bus, Gus” or “step out the back, Jack” are not all that practical for most of us. Nor is leaving a Post-it note on the refrigerator, as I have heard of one person’s announcement of departure from a marriage.
In any case, I have entitled this essay “graceful”—not angry, not insulting, not vindictive—ways by which to end a relationship. For those who are still mad about how they were dismissed or embarrassed about how cruel or petty they were in breaking off with a dear one, this piece will hold no interest.
I am speaking to a member of a couple who feels it’s time to end the arrangement for personal reasons and sees no need of hurting their partner unnecessarily. I personally feel that once you have given your heart, even if later you feel you have done so wrongly, a small piece of it stays where it was gifted.
So then, some graceful, not necessarily hurtful, ways to take your leave:
1. Don’t spring this on him or her at a busy or already stressful time in your partner’s life. Choose your timing carefully.
2. Arrange some place where and when the two of you can have a quiet time for your feelings or announcement to be talked over.
3. Your partner needs the respect of your reasons for leaving the relationship, more than “I am ending this.” You have decided that this is not a good fit or you are feeling cramped in a partnership and want be out on your own. Help the other person to understand why this is happening.
4. Find some other ways to deliver a painful truth such as “I have fallen out of love with you” or “Yes, there is someone else.”
5. If you add “I’d like to remain friends” then demonstrate that you mean it. Make some social overtures. If your partner is too hurt to respond give it some time and try again. Don’t offer friendship if you really want to end the association and move on.
6. Think such an announcement through thoroughly for your own good. Do you really want to end it all or would renegotiating some aspects of what you have be better for both of you?
For the sake of both of you and the sake of a relationship that deserves to be exited with two heads held high rather than with one of you angry or in tears, think this through beforehand.