BYU students are regularly reminded of their responsibility to date and then get married. It seems that at almost every event: devotionals, lectures, classes, school activities and church, students are repeatedly counseled to go on dates. “Always say yes to the first date,” “Participate in activities that like-minded people will be at,” “Try to go on dates as often as possible,” are phrases most students have heard at least once.
Students follow this advice, and those dates turn into relationships, which may end in break-ups.
In fact, according to a study by Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld, about 70 percent of unmarried couple’s break-up within the first year of the relationship.
Harrison Woo, a pre-management major from Vancouver Canada, is one of the many BYU students who has experienced a break-up.
“Going into my first-year university experience, I was dating a girl from New York. It was so exciting to be at BYU meeting new people, and trying to stay with a girl on another coast has lots of obstacles. My heart wasn’t in the relationship. I broke up with her over a phone call. I promised we would still be friends, but we never talked after that. I still feel super guilty for how things turned out. I also learned that both people in a romantic relationship need to have that special feeling for each other in order for things to work out,” Woo said.
While breakups, heartache and the awkwardness that can follow may be inevitable, there are a few things that can make breaking up a little easier.
When to break up
When the relationship doesn’t feel right
It can be easy to prolong a break up, even when you feel unhappy in a relationship, simply because you don’t want to hurt the other persons feelings. From Woo’s eperience, however, as soon as one of the members in the relationship starts to feel unhappy a breakup should occur.
“Prolonging a breakup normally results with both members unhappy. A relationship wouldn’t be healthy if one of the members involved doesn’t want to be there in the first place,” Woo said.
Tyler Sweat, a electrical engineering major from Spanish Fork, also concurs with Woo. If you are feeling the need to break up, it should be done sooner rather than later.
“Don’t let it go on and on, and let the other person think that things are going really well, when you’re feeling like they’re not. Just get it over with, there is really no good time to break up, so the sooner the better.”
Sweat recalls an experience at his high-school prom, where his girlfriend at the time broke up with him during the middle of the prom.
“The dinner beforehand was kind of weird, she was on her phone the whole time, and then when we got to the dance she went off with her friend and disappeared. Fifteen minutes later she still hadn’t come back so I texted her and asked where she was. She said, ‘Hey, I’m outside; we need to talk.’ I kind of knew what was coming and she broke up with me,” Sweat said.
Although the experience was long ago, Sweat still wishes she had simply broken up with him sooner, so that he could have enjoyed the prom more.
“It was a bad way to break up. Don’t do it during a special event. If you are feeling the need to break up, do it before,” Sweat said.
When futures don’t match
There are compromises and sacrifices to be made in any relationship, but if you feel like the two of you aren’t heading in the same direction, it may be time to end things.
According to Sophie Wilcox, a biology major from St. George, one of the biggest signs you should end a relationship is if your futures don’t match up.
“Obviously there will be some compromise involved in relationships, but changing everything about your dreams for the future for someone else can’t be good,” Wilcox said.
When you can’t be yourself
If you find yourself stuck in perpetual small talk, a guarded state, or you feel like you can’t truly be yourself around the person you are dating, it may be a sign that you should break up.
“I think that if you find yourself feeling guarded or like you have to change your personality to get along with someone that is a good sign things aren’t quite working out,” Wilcox said.
How to break up
End things face to face
Many have experienced the over-the-phone or text breakup. This is unfair to the person being broken up with, as they will have little time to respond or see how you truly feel about the situation. If you liked them enough to date them, be considerate enough to give them the respect of a face-to-face breakup.
“I think that the best way to break up with someone is to do it face to face and be sure about your answer,” Wilcox said. “It would really suck to be told that someone was breaking up with you if they really didn’t have solid reasons to tell you.”
Make the breakup short, clear and direct
Breakups are difficult, and giving a long-detailed description of the other persons faults and failings isn’t going to help anything. Explain clearly why you are breaking up with them, but do it quickly. Sometimes when people get nervous they talk in circles, making the other person confused as to whether a breakup actually occurred or not.
According to Woo, “At the end of the day, it’s important to be clear that a break up happened.”
Be honest and kind
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Consider how you would feel if you were the one being broken up with. Emily Craig, a student from Calgary, Canada said being honest throughout a breakup is crucial.
“There is no way not to be super cliché — be honest. You tell them honestly why you’ve enjoyed dating them, things you’ve learned from them, and you tell them why it is in their best interest to end the relationship,” Craig said.
Realize that breaking up is often the compassionate thing to do
When you stay in a relationship you know is doomed to fail, you are prohibiting the other person from finding opportunities to date a person who will appreciate them as much as they appreciate you.
“You are doing them a favor because you are enabling them to be available or to find that person that will love them the way they should be loved,” Craig said.
After breaking up, give the other person some distance
You may have been used to spending 24/7 with your former boyfriend or girlfriend, and every muscle in your body might be screaming out for you to text them to, “just to say hi,” or to send them that funny meme that reminds you of them, but don’t do it. They deserve some space and distance to heal and to move on with their lives.
“I think the best way to break up with someone is to be clear and follow it up with distance. Breakups can be messy with the feelings involved and the events that led up to it. Distance is important. It’s common for couples to get back together when they still see each other all the time,” Woo said.
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