Point/Counterpoint: How to Break Off a Short-Term Fling

Telling the straight truth v. feeding ‘em a white lie

By The Editors
April 29, 2016 9:00 am

No matter your age, or your fickleness, or how many dates you’ve been on, breaking up is hard.

So hard, in fact, that ghosting has become a common — and, by some accounts, acceptable — social practice.

Our take: ghosting is for cowards but still probably the best way to go before the third or fourth date. Any more than that and you’re a spineless milksop.

Which brings us to later-stage varieties of fling and relationship.

If it’s been on for more than a couple months, breaking up is going to be messy and drawn out and probably involve tears, the exchange of property and something slanderous about how your relationship with your mother has contributed to your commitment issues.

But what about the in-between relationships? When ghosting is definitely not on the cards but neither is heartbreak? The way we see it, you’ve got two options: A) tell the straight truth, or B) let ‘em down easy with a white lie.

Point: Tell the Truth, Ya’ Yellowbellied Git
Shari Gab, New York Editor

1) No need to add insult to injury. You’re already breaking things off, the least you can do is give it to ‘em straight.

2) It doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk. Telling the truth doesn’t have to mean cutting deep. “This isn’t working for me” is sufficient. Full stop.

3) It’s not a negotiation, so why bend the facts to accommodate for one? Because you don’t want to be the jerk, that’s why. It’s the ego that gets in the way of telling the truth. You don’t want to be the bad guy. Spoiler alert: you already are.

4) Bulls*** has a very dinstinct smell. Don’t insult their intelligence. Don’t waste everyone’s time. It’s the respect you would want if the shoe was on the other foot.

Counterpoint: White-Lie Your Way to Freedom and a Guilt-Free Existence
Walker Loetscher, Managing Editor

1) Keep the lie simple, relatable and believable and you won’t get pressed for details. To wit: “I reconnected with my ex recently, and I need to give things a chance and see where it goes.”

2) Emphasize your honesty. “I just wanted to be straight with you about this. I hate when people lead me on and it’s the last thing I wanted to do to you.”

3) Ego has a flipside. Will this make your ego feel less guilty? Certainly! But the person being broken up with also has one, and maybe a soft lie will reprieve them of wondering what they could’ve done “better” to make things work.

4) Dishonesty only has a negative connotation if we assign it one. A recent episode of This American Life told the story of a family that staged a fake wedding so everyone could visit their dying grandmother, who was unaware of her terminal cancer diagnosis. The argument: there is nothing wrong with being deceitful for the greater good of a group. Something something utilitarianism.

What do you think? Tell us on Twitter.

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