Dear Lou,

I'm a 22-year-old female, and I've been dating a guy for five months. I need your advice on how to break up with him. I've never really dated that much and this has been my first sort of serious relationship, believe it or not. Just a little background, we don't fight a lot and there's no lying or cheating or anything like that (we're not even having sex as I am a virgin by choice), but I just don't feel the way I think I'm supposed to feel. We spend a lot of time together and it's ... nice. But that's the problem, that's ALL it is, nice. I can't believe that there isn't more to being in a relationship than this. All the things people talk about, about the "spark" they feel, I just haven't felt that with my boyfriend, even though I care deeply for him. And I absolutely refuse to believe it's because I've chosen to not have sex until I'm married. I mean, even before you have sex with someone, you're supposed to WANT to, right? But neither of us is feeling strongly about that. Still, now I'm feeling like we really shouldn't be together anymore, but also like a terrible person for wanting to break up with him because he's really a nice guy. We get along great, and that's more than a lot of people can say who are married even. So what do you think I should do?

Thanks,

Inexperienced

 

Dear Inexperienced,

Wisdom starts here. I believe you've ended up dating someone who really should have remained just a friend. Friendship is fundamental to love, so what you have is certainly not a bad thing. But, again, sounds like this friendship wasn't meant to evolve into a romance. Being a novice in the dating world might have contributed to your confusion, but many people with different past experiences find themselves in this situation. Please try not to feel guilty; you are certainly not a terrible person. There is nothing wrong with spending time with someone you care about, and seeing what happens. This is how we learn about who we are and what we want in a partner. Not every relationship yields a lifelong love affair, nor are they supposed to. Anyone with an ex will affirm this sentiment; some with a shudder or fist-pounding fervor. So, welcome to your first breakup; while they're never easy, you at least have a pleasant dating experience under your belt from which to learn.

As for the breakup, here are some key things you can do to cause as little hurt as possible. First, know this is going to be unpleasant. Anything ranging from sullen disappointment to a very emotional display may be possible; prepare to be understanding and patient (to a point, as you'll read later). Next, choose your moment as well as you can — don't mar holidays, not right before a big meeting at work — common sense stuff. Keep it honest; no starting fake fights to provoke an angry split or get him to break up first. Finally, make it quick. Sure, a few goodbye hugs and expressions of regret are appropriate, but hanging around after there's nothing left to say is counterproductive. Like I said, he will feel lousy to some degree. This can neither be prevented by you, nor is it your role to provide comfort as he heals. In fact, remaining in constant contact could slow recovery for both of you, so be compassionate, then leave. Just remember, after the hard part is over, you'll probably be able to remain friends, keeping the best of what you had in the first place. Good luck.

Love,

Lou

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