Q Dear Miss Abigail:
I have been going out with a guy for one year and I am interested in another guy. My boyfriend doesn’t want to break up with me. What should I do?
A Dear Pooja:
Ah, the classic story of failed romance, and the man who would not let go. Looks like it’s time for you to have a little discussion with him. Here’s some advice on how to do it, from Evelyn Millis Duvall’s 1956 edition of Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. And if that doesn’t work, move as far away from him as possible. With a new hair color and name change, he’ll probably never find you.
I’m kidding, I’m kidding.
1956: How to Break Off Without Hurting
Continuing with someone who it is no longer wise to see so regularly is no kindness to either person. . . . Yet the problem often becomes a difficult one because we do not know how to break off without hurting the other’s feelings.
The steps in breaking off with someone without hurting too much look somewhat like this: First, let the other know how you are feeling. Share your first questions about staying together or breaking up with the other person. Try to think it through together. Talk it over calmly. Encourage the other person to tell you how he or she feels about it. Do everything possible to understand how each of you is enterpreting your relationship. Then discuss as openly as you can what next steps might be taken. You may find that the other person has been having some of the same thoughts and fears that you have hesitated to share.
A second point to keep in mind is to do everything possible to help the other person save face. If the girl feels that she has been jilted, she will be doubly hurt. Her pride suffers as well as her love. If the boy senses that his girl is running out on him, he too is hurt. Whatever is done, each should feel that the other is still an attractive person and that it was just the relationship that did not work out.
Young people often make this step hard for themselves by trying to extract from their retreating lovers ‘the reasons why you do not love me anymore.’ This so often leads to a list of characteristics that are unpleasant, or a counting up of shortcomings, that the discarded lover feels unworthy as well as unloved.
It is better to recognize that friendships change and shift with time. During the teen years, when growth is rapid and interests change quickly, it is to be expected that friends will change, too. If two persons who have found each other’s company pleasant come to the place where it is not wise to continue seeing each other, they should face the fact without hurting each other’s pride. They may blame the relationship, they may blame their youthfulness, but every effort should be made not to blame each other.
Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Association Press, 1956.
~ pp. 350-51 ~