By Riley Fuller
I’m a happily married man, and I get to spend every day with my beautiful wife and best friend. We have the cutest 3-year-old son, and we live a life beyond what I ever imagined. But honestly I struggled tremendously to get here.
I got married several months before I turned 30, so I spent almost my entire twenties in and out of relationships. For a long time I just didn’t feel good enough — for myself or anybody else. And I didn’t know God loves us and is longing to give us direction, purpose, and the ability to persevere.
Throughout my twenties, I was completely lost, yet consumed by the desire to love and be loved.
As a result, I made a lot of mistakes and witnessed others make mistakes, too. Inevitably, every romantic relationship we have will come to an end, except for one (ideally). Most of us want our relationships to honor the people we are with. So here are seven ways NOT to end a relationship (and an alternative for each scenario, in case you relate a little too much).
1. Flee the scene
I have a friend who met a woman on an airplane (they both had been drinking). One thing led to another, and they went on a date a few days after they landed. Once they met up for their date, the guy realized his memory was worse than he thought. When his date went to the restroom, he put money on the table and sprinted out of the restaurant.
Alternative Solution: Muster up the courage to tell your date you aren’t interested. It dignifies the person instead of leaving them with unanswered questions.
2. Become invisible
You know the relationship is over and you don’t want to go through the pain of telling the other person, so you disappear. You stop answering texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, DMs, whatsapps, and Twitter. You ghost.
Alternative Solution: Your partner deserves the right to move on. You just need to tell them it’s over.
3. Offend the other person into breaking up with you
Personally, I’ve never seen this one in action, but here’s what I’ve been told: You know it’s over, but you go to Thanksgiving dinner anyway. While you’re there you insult the cook, talk about how badly the house needs redecorating, make fun of dad’s job, and get so drunk you start speaking a different language. Your partner has no choice but to dump you.
Alternative Solution: Invest the time you would have spent offending people into telling your significant other the truth about your feelings.
I had two serious girlfriends before I graduated college, and both of them cheated on me. (I still believe they are both good people who made painful mistakes.) As a result of these romances, I was terrified of relationships yet wanted to find my soulmate so badly. I developed a pattern of getting super close to a woman, and then leaving because I was so afraid she would leave me. It was devastating for everyone involved.
Alternative Solution: If you want to be with someone else, leave the person you’re with and leave them with dignity.
5. Commit to something together, then back out
I was in my early 20s and dating a woman in her 30s. She was ready to lay a foundation for life. After graduating business school, she considered job offers and asked if I would be willing to leave Philadelphia. I said I probably would. So, she accepted a job in a different state thinking I would move. When I told her I wouldn’t move, the relationship ended.
Alternative solution: Be candid. If you have reservations, share them now. It’s much more loving than pretending to handle something you’re not ready for.
6. Move on emotionally before ending the relationship
We’ve all seen this one. Someone is in a relationship that is not working, so they start to invest time and energy into someone else — usually “as a friend.” Not only is this disrespectful to the person they are with, but it doesn’t give them time to heal emotionally or choose the next right person. Everyone loses.
Alternative Solution: Tell your partner as soon as you know in your heart that he or she is not the one for you.
7. Move to a different state
I used to work long hours, so naturally my co-workers became my close friends. After a particularly hard breakup, I ended up sharing everything about my ex and our relationship with a coworker. My coworker and I started dating long before my heart healed from my last relationship. I ultimately figured out my coworker was not the woman for me, either. Rather than tell her the truth, I got a new job with the same company and moved to a new city.
Alternative Solution: Don’t start a new relationship until you’ve processed the last one. And if you do, be honest with your partner about where your heart still hurts.
We’ve all made at least a couple dating “mistakes.” What have you learned the hard way?
Read more from Riley here.
Photo by Rachel Peterson of RP Imagery