breaking up with kindness“How do you break up with someone without hurting his feelings?”

Great question, posed by a thoughtful, kind woman who cares deeply about others. My client, “Janice,” has been dating a guy who is good-looking, sweet, and well…passive and not too exciting. She asks him, “How was your day?” He answers, “Pretty good.” Janice is a dynamic, upbeat woman, someone who has survived an abusive marriage and emerged a much stronger person. She wants to be with a guy who has his own interesting life to share with her.

Janice was worried about how to break up with him. She didn’t want to hurt his feelings. You see, Janice is a people pleaser. She hates making anyone feel bad. As a former people pleaser myself, I understand. Pleasing people is fine as long as it doesn’t come at the risk of your own integrity. If you are trying to please someone and it’s not where your heart is, no one benefits.

But it is possible to be honest and kind at the same time. You just have to know how. First, I suggested that Janice tell him what she does like/value about him. Then kindly (but bluntly, not beating around the bush), tell him what’s not working for her. This is not meant to be a criticism of his character. It is just a statement about what’s not working for the two of them as a pair. She feels they are not a good romantic match, but she’s not defaming him. He may disagree, which is fine, and she should give him some time to say what’s on his mind. But truthfully, she’s doing him a favor. He will find a better match in a woman who is crazy about him, someone who loves him for who he is.

Of course, you are not meant to be a good match with every person you date. Finding someone special is just that – a man who is uniquely suited to be with you and vice versa.

As for the saying, ‘the truth hurts?” I don’t know about you, but I get upset when someone is not truthful with me. The truth may sting at first, but a lie that’s told to string someone along because you’re afraid you might hurt his feelings? That is much more painful in the long run.

One final note: don’t change your mind and get back together because you feel sorry for him or you get lonely. If your gut tells you he’s not right for you, be prepared to walk away. A more compatible match is out there waiting for you.

Please share your thoughts on breaking up with kindness, and please share this article with your adult children who may benefit from advice about breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend–this advice is universal for all ages, and both sexes.

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