News » Features

Love Hurts: Doing It The Hard Way

Sometimes the how is as important as the why


"Hi, Wayne, I got you a present," said Stacy.

"But we broke up two months ago," replied Wayne.

"That doesn't mean we can't still go out," reasoned Stacy.

The scene from Wayne's World makes it plain: Stacy's crazy. In fact, Wayne's one-time object of affection is labeled as a "psycho hose beast" because even though he broke it off, Stacy just didn't quite get it.

The good news is there are some rules of breaking up that, if followed, can make a bad situation at least bearable. Heidi Reeder, an associate professor in the communications department at Boise State, offered a few tips.

"I don't know if there is any right way but there is a wrong way, said Reeder.

One wrong way is the coward's way out: leaving a text message or making a phone call to end a relationship. According to Reeder, a text war can drag the process out even longer.

Sending a Dear John letter by fax is another breakup technique that falls in the "wrong way" category. The receiver of said letter may forever be haunted by the shrill screech of the facsimile machine, bringing back memories of a callous dumping technique.

Hiring a breakup service to do your dirty work is another unorthodox method that leaves much to be desired. The person being dumped opens the door to a stranger dressed in fatigues delivering the bad news via a bouquet of dead flowers. True, this way screams, "See you later," but it doesn't quite cover the "what went wrong."

The quick fix for broken relationships comes in a convenient form. Although sometimes hard to swallow, the bitter pill of truth is most effective. While meeting with the person you are about to dump, face to tear streaked face, it's important to concentrate on what went wrong with the relationship instead of what's wrong with the individual. Name-calling is not the answer. What wasn't working in the relationship requires more explanation than merely, "It's not you, it's me."

According to Reeder, the best way to break up may depend on the length of the relationship.

"If after only two dates, someone decides, 'This isn't right for me,' a two-hour conversation might be overkill," Reeder said. "The simple rule is the longer the relationship, the more difficult it is to accept the fact that it is over."

However, being truthful during a breakup makes it hard to argue with the cold, hard fact that feelings have changed.

"Both people need closure, including the person doing the breaking up," said Reeder. "People might think, oh, you are the only that broke up you should be happy. That is why a lot of people avoid breaking up when they know they should."

Another thing to consider is the interaction between the two people.

Reeder cautions that it is necessary to be ready for the person to offer a remedy for any issue they think may be the deal breaker.

"There is no magic right way to do it," Reeder said. "If someone thinks they are going to come up with the perfect thing to say, there is no guarantee the person will accept it and everything will be fine."

When the end of the relationship has arrived, using a suitable relationship exit strategy will, at the very least, make acceptance on both sides easier. Breaking up is tough, but if done correctly, the heartache will eventually fade to the point at which the owners of broken hearts just might be willing to try again.

—Elaine Lacaillade