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From our hearts and our heads


LOVESo you’ve been dating someone, but you’re not into it anymore—how do you end it? A lot of words have been spent giving advice to people who like someone and aren’t sure how to make it happen, but it can be just as hard to navigate the art of walking away. Sometimes it’s hard because you don’t know someone that well and you’re not sure if you owe them any kind of explanation, sometimes it’s hard because you were never really “together” so it feels weird to officially call it quits, and sometimes it’s hard because you’re someone who likes to avoid conflict like the plague.

Whether you’re on the receiving end of a kibosh or the one issuing it, there are four main ways of saying adios in today’s technology-heavy relationship world and three out of four of them are terrible.

Ghosting: This is the most intensely irresponsible way of getting someone to stop pursuing you romantically. Ghosting means you stop answering all attempts at communication (text, calls, emails, Facebook messages, etc.), and, from the other person’s perspective, you pretty literally turn into a ghost and cease to exist, as far as they’re concerned. This is the most direct way of avoiding any kind of break-up-related conflict head- on, but it’s also extremely inconsiderate and hurtful to the other person. Even if you haven’t known someone long, ghosting is never a nice thing to do. It’s also not always all that effective. Someone who’s really interested in you will actually probably worry about you and will check in more if you were responsive and then stop answering; they probably won’t immediately “get the hint,” as you might hope.

Icing: You keep the communication channels open, but they become cold (hence “icing”). You answer texts, but in vague, impersonal ways like saying “haha cool” when someone tells you about their day. And where you once might have leapt at the opportunity to make plans with the person you’re dating, you now respond with something like, “Not sure what my plans are next week.” It’s not an official yes or no, so the other person will be lead to believe that if they just keep trying, you’ll have time for them, when you know that’s not going to happen.

Simmering: This is another way of saying you’re leaving a potential relationship on the back burner. It’s not your first priority, but you also want to keep the option open. It usually looks like this: inconsistent communication, and occasional plan-bailing followed by occasional plan- fulfillment. This dynamic is only okay if it seems mutual (e.g. you’re also being simmered), but if it’s clear that the other person is all in and you’re keeping them on the back burner, let them go so they are free to pursue someone who makes them a priority too.

Compassionate power parting: This is the only always-okay way to part ways with someone. It means being direct and clear about your intentions of moving on in a way that is unambiguous, doesn’t leave the door open for any hoped-for change of heart on the other person’s part, but is still respectful and doesn’t include personal attacks about any shortcomings you might see in someone else. Try saying, “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you [if that’s true], but I don’t feel a romantic connection.” You can even wish them luck in their dating adventures if you want. It’s okay to do this over text if you’ve just been on a couple dates with someone, but anything longer should really be ended in person (or over the phone if it’s long distance). TL;DR Don’t be a ghoster, an icer, or a simmerer. Be a compassionate power parter.