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.