If the first rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club, then the first rule of hook-up culture is likewise its invisibility. Not talking about “us” is the juice that keeps the passion flowing and the questions that might stop it from formulating. But what happens when you finally realize you’re ready to move on?
Anyone will tell you when it comes to ending a relationship that there are two paths you can take: the high road, and the low.
But what if this romantic… thing, hardly even registers enough speed on your dating profile to merit a clear cut path?
The best thing about ending early relationships is that there simply wasn’t enough time for you to connect and for anyone’s feelings to get irreparably hurt. This leaves you with a little ethical wiggle room, in which the “high” road and “low” roads translate more into direct and indirect endings. You can either drop hints and slowly back off, or you can be bold and call it off.
Whether you’re looking to slip out of a friends-with-benefits situation or veto your BFF’s well-intentioned match-making skills—the best break up method is going to depend on the nature of your relationship.
Because when it comes down to it, we’re all just trying to figure out how to end a story before it truly begins. With as little ego bruises as possible, of course.
Let it Fizzle Out
If you’re lucky, both of you will come to realize that your budding romance is just not meant to be and your relationship will slowly burn out. Technologically this kind of ghosting tends to look like “seen” messages on Facebook, short one word texts, and unscheduled date nights. Gradually decreasing your conversations or date nights is a subtle and effective reminder that your relationship just isn’t a priority for your future. With this method, you also give permission for your partner to faze you out of their lives as well. After all, you can only get so mad at a blank screen.
This fade out method definitely takes two to tango, and it’s one of those weird chicken-or-the-egg dilemmas when it comes to pinpointing its origins. An easy way to respond if you feel the “fade out” is happening to you is to throw yourself into activities that make you happy. Guys have been doing it for ages, and it’s about time that we followed suit.
Waiting for that booty call might be nice at 3 am, but it’s going to be boring as hell at 9 pm. Get back to your roots and remember what truly makes you come alive—whether that’s dancing or baking or hiking or travelling with friends. Shakira said it best when she immortalized the words “can’t remember to forget you.” If you replace a romantic passion with an extracurricular one, it just might help you forget who wanted to break up with who. In the best case scenario, you will both be so engrossed in your new separate lives that you won’t hold any grudges for the other not including you in their plans.
However, while this is probably the most popular break-up method, it can leave a weird taste in your mouth since nothing is definitively ended. Slowly fading out can take a few days, or even a few weeks if the timing is off and your partner just isn’t getting the hint. Conversely, if you’re serious about ending the relationship then this open-ending leaves you more liable to future relapses. So if you want to make yourself truly commit to the break-up, it’s best to address the elephant in the room and end things more directly.
Embrace the future
Look, here’s the deal. If you’re avoiding talking about boundaries, labels, or expectations with your latest romantic-tryst–chances are there’s a lot more you guys don’t know about each other. And that’s 100% ok. After all, how much do you even remember about your ex-partners once you finally do find “the one?” Exactly. Memory will always be selective.
Instead of thinking about what they meant to you in a relationship, try thinking about what that person will be to you in a few months—a stranger. Use the fact that you were two ships passing in the night to help calm your nerves and put things in perspective. Understand that you don’t “owe” your future ex-anything other than your honesty from here on out.
There are three things to keep in mind when choosing the direct break-up method. Be firm, be direct, and be brief. No one likes to know their relationship faults in depth. The “golden rule” of treating others how you want to be treated definitely applies here as well. While you may not have to deal with their emotional aftermath, the general consensus with relationships is that you should leave people in better condition than you found them.
It may seem impersonal, but a quick and to-the-point “thanks, but no thanks” message may be all you can really give such an early relationship. Whether that’s delivered face-to-face or via email is up to you. You may feel bad right after, but in the end the less reasons you give the better. If the devil is in the details, then be glad you walked away as relative strangers and bask in the unknown that is your future relationship potential.