How-To Break Up When Dudes Don’t Get The Hint

First published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name, Elizabeth Rose.

One of the hardest parts of dating is telling the other person you’re not interested. (You may even find yourself Googling, “How To Break Up.”)

Whether you’ve moved on to greener pastures or you are, “just not that into them,” it’s awkward for everyone involved and requires you to put on your game face, be an adult, and deal with it.

Either way, it’s uncomfortable and can be hard to do.

We’ve all been on the receiving end (and if you haven’t, then congrats. And you’re in denial).

As everything in life, there are good and bad ways to handle it.

One of the worst situations is to leave someone hanging with open-ended plans that you have no intention of following through on.

Keeping the other person’s hope alive is a slow death of happiness that also contributes to the weight of guilt you subconsciously carry.

Plus, it majorly sucks when it happens to you. (“Do unto others,” and whatnot.)

For example, here’s a real-life scenario of what-not-to-do, brought to you by yours truly.

I am not proud:

Example 1

“Would you like to go to (fill in the blank) on (fill in the blank) night?”

“I’d love to, but I’m busy. Thanks for the invite!”

[Same question two days later. Same response:]

“Okay, well, let me know if you would like to hang out.”

“Yeah, will do!”

And never call again.

Example 2

Or, you could be a mature human being and actually be honest.  (They call this, “the big girl route”.)

Admittedly, I’ve only done this a handful of times, but I’m getting there.

Here’s how the conversation went:

[Phone rings]

“Hey, Elizabeth! How’s it going?”

“It’s going well. Is this a bad time?”

“No, not at all. What’s up?”

“I, uh, wanted to know if we could just be friends.”

[This could have been a little better but I did what I could at the time.]

“You mean, and not have a romantic relationship?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean.”

“Wow, I really appreciate you calling and telling me. Most women just don’t respond at all.”

“I’m trying something new. Plus, you deserve it. It’s been really nice getting to know you and I truly wish you all the best!”

“Well, thank you. And I wish you the best, too.”

Granted, he was older than me by a good amount, but the whole conversation proved that honesty is, in fact, the best policy.

Example 3

Unfortunately, even the best intentions and clearest communication can be misconstrued.

Here’s an example of the message not being received:

[Phone rings. Blah, blah, blah, then cutting to the chase.]

“I wanted to know if we could just be friends.”

“You mean, and not have a romantic relationship?”

“Yes, that’s what I mean.”

“Okay. I understand. Thanks for letting me know.”

Phew. It was a clean break.

So I thought.

Ten minutes later, I receive a text.

“I think I may have misunderstood you. We can keep it casual if you’d like.”

[Palm to forehead.]

I had to respond.

“I would like to keep it on a friendship level.”

His response: “Okay, we can talk about it later.”

And, of course, there was no “later.”

Sometimes, you just gotta say your piece and end communication, knowing you gave it your best shot.

The ultimate way to nip-it-in-the-bud is to tell them you’ve started seeing someone else, but be warned: you can only say this if you actually are seeing someone.

Otherwise, it’s bad dating karma.

What if you’ve tried these tricks and none of them work? 

There’s always the smiling poop emoji response to fall back on.

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