The choice: Break up or spend the weekend together

My friend shared his dilemma and his choice. A woman he’d seen a few times wanted to drive 2.5 hours from her home to see him. While he thought she had many wonderful characteristics, he knew they were not a long-term match. He said, “I knew I had to break up with her then on the phone or let her come see me. I didn’t have the energy to deal with the crying and upset of a breakup, so I let her come spend the weekend.”

“But you’re leading her on,” I responded. However, I know I did the same thing once. “You wouldn’t like to be led on. Now she thinks you’re more of an item.”

“You’re right. But I just couldn’t deal with the aftermath of breaking up with her. So now that she’s back home, I’ve got to do it.”

“And she’ll be even more confused and hurt.” I was trying not to chastise him, but instead help him see what he was doing to her.

This was not a case of him being unclear on his feelings for her so wanted to give it one last chance. No, he was clear he was going to break up, he just wanted the timing to be convenient — for him.

Yes, breaking up often causes at the least some tears and candid conversation. At the worst, there is yelling, name calling, arguing, perhaps dish throwing. I took the coward’s way out once — not returning a phone call from a suitor gone sour, then emailing him. I’m not proud of this, as I prefer to act with courage and integrity and have at least a phone conversation to share my thoughts.

But I thought it was important for my readers to know that just because a man spends the weekend with you, it isn’t necessarily an indication that he is deepening his relationship with you. Some men will do it for the companionship, the physical closeness, the sex. Some will do it because it is easier than dealing with breaking up. While I won’t say women don’t do the same things for the same reasons, hopefully you wouldn’t. Know that this is how some men operate.

Is my friend a cad, a player, a jerk? No. Although I find this behavior caddish. He is typically a caring, considerate, fun, intelligent, accomplished man. However, he — like most of us — can make short-term choices that are easier on him, without thinking through the ramifications for the other person.

I remind myself and encourage you to act with compassion and integrity. If you know you need to break up, do so, even though you know there will be some cost of time and emotion. And, if you have been with the person more than a few hours, have the courage to do so ideally in person, but at the minimum on the phone. You will be happier with yourself in the long run.

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3 responses to “The choice: Break up or spend the weekend together”

  1. Nancy Avatar

    DG – Sometimes it’s just hard to know what the best thing is until hindsight kicks in. I still kick myself for one of my choices. I was dating a man long distance and I eventually came to know that it wasn’t going to progress and it was time to break up. I thought it would be rotten to break up with him over the phone so I planned a trip to see him. I took him out to dinner (okay, it was really stupid, and I still blush to think of it). We were sitting in a very private area and I explained that while I thought a lot of him, I knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere and so was breaking it off. Now I know I should have done it over the phone, but I was trying to do the right thing. I wanted to give him a chance to see me face-to-face and express whatever he felt he needed to. I think my biggest mistake was to not ask one of my male friends for his advise on whether I should have done it on the phone. I guess it’s just always a good lesson that just because what someone does *seems* caddish, doesn’t always mean they are a cad.

  2. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Nancy — you are so right about someone’s behavior being caddish, but their intentions weren’t.
    I think it is hard to break up over dinner. Do you pretend everything is fine until dessert, then lay it on him? That doesn’t seem right. If you tell him early on, then the rest of the meal can be awkward. I think over coffee or at one or your houses is a good strategy for in-person breakups. Not the car, as you are then both trapped.
    What do other readers think about where to break up?

  3. Nancy Avatar

    It’s a great question. I’ll be awfully interested in the replies you get. There really is no way to do it to make it okay for that person. They’ll be in charge of making it okay for themselves. The thing to shoot for is an environment and tone that lets the person keep their dignity and respects their feelings. Give them a chance to express something of their hurt, if they want to, without getting defensive.

    P.s. I respect how generous you are in your regard for people on both sides of the equation. Even in the midst of a painful experience yourself.