Love Actually

Brandt Ranj, Staff Writer

Breaking up is really, really hard to do. So do it right.


Physics has taught me that all that goes up, must come down. Meanwhile, Paul Simon taught me that “everything put together must fall apart,” which leads me to the topic of this issue’s “Love, Actually” —  break up etiquette. I believe that many people would agree that breaking up genuinely sucks. However, if done with respect and regard for the other person, the process can be a little easier, for instance.

Face-to-Face ≠ Facebook: I’ve referenced Facebook before, and for all its awesome stalk-tastic goodness, using it as a means of breaking up is pretty foul. You’re giving the person absolutely no emotion or inflection and while it might be a lot easier for you, it can make the other person feel insulted as you don’t think it’s important enough an issue to discuss in person. Plus, seeing them in person the next time will now be even more awkward. You could at least make the last time they speak to you a little intimate instead of cold.

The Two-Week Turnaround: We’re all human: we all have biological and emotional needs that, when met, make life a lot easier and more fun. However, one always needs to be considerate about how new developments sound on the other end. Say you break up on a Wednesday, it can be truly jarring for the other party to learn that you’re already shacking up with someone else in creative places come Sunday morning. Waiting a couple of weeks to cool down and regroup leads to fewer instances of rebound regret and other uncomfortableness.

Avoid Cliches: “We need to talk” and “It’s not you, it’s me” might fly if you’re living in a wishy-washy rom-com, but in the real world these phrases are empty and tired.  I digress, it’s a lot easier to segue into a break-up talk by using one of these because the other person gets a queue as to what’s coming, and it certainly beats “So . . . about this whole ‘dating’ thing.” However, it’s a lot more meaningful if you let someone down with something you’ve thought up that pertains directly to the situation that you’re in, as opposed to something generic that you could have just as easily used to break things off with five previous lovers.

Custody: If you’ve been dating for some time, it’s likely that you’ve accumulated a fair amount of your partner’s loot and perhaps have become close to their group of friends. In the post -breakup world, the line of what-to-do with these belongings and relationships can be challenging and uncomfortable. As a rule of thumb, please never put people in the middle of an ordeal they have no place in by asking them to choose, that’s rude. Talk to your friends, mutual or otherwise, and look to them for support; don’t simply badmouth your freshly minted ex making it awkward for third parties to look either of you in the eyes. In terms of property, keep some as mementos because you’ve accumulated some great memories, but don’t retain so much that you’ll be constantly reminded of the past, making the healing process more difficult.

Digital Cleanup:  This is a new foray that our generation must write the rules to, because in addition to our physical existence, we’ve got a lot of FacebookMyspace, Twitter, and other vistas that exes have the opportunity to interact and influence. Try to remove all of the pictures of your coupling from social networking sites — save them in a folder on your computer, burn it to a disk and stash it away until a much later date when it will be less painful to encounter them again. Also, although Facebook is being completely overhauled soon, you can still edit your relationship status from “in a relationship” without showing that you’ve changed back to “single.” This should buy you a little extra time before your wall is flooded with well wishes and gossip about it in the aftermath.