Sunday, February 25, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

There's no easy way to break-up with live-in boyfriend

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

No easy way to break up with live-in boyfriend

Q: I asked you about this last week, and sadly, not much has changed on my end. I need to break up with my live-in boyfriend because I don't see a future together. We have different ambitions, interests, backgrounds, etc., and — I hate this part — I'm not in love with him.

I don't know how to do it, though. Do I sit him down in our own home and tell him to move out? (He can't afford the rent alone, and I can.) Do I pick a fight? Do I do it after (an upcoming event)? Before? I've never broken up with someone I lived with. I don't want to hurt him, because he is the nicest and kindest guy — just not the one for me. Thanks.

Breaking Up

Carolyn: Since you wrote to me last week, too, you've read this column at least once, so you probably know I'm more likely to burn my shoe collection than to suggest contriving an argument so you can break up with someone you don't love anymore.

You sit down with him as soon as possible and say he's a wonderful person, but you've come to believe you aren't wonderful together — "different ambitions, interests, backgrounds, etc." You let him ask the questions he needs to ask, then decide together who stays or moves where.

That's all another way of saying, please don't "tell" him to move out, or pick a fight, or string him along till a more convenient time. Just treat him with the frankness and decency you hope others would show with you.

It's going to be awful for a while, but then it won't be anymore.

Anonymous: Carolyn, this made me think of a question I've always meant to ask: Would it be fair to say the single most important aspect to breaking up with someone in the frank and decent way you propose is to fully accept your own responsibility for a decision that may be awful for them? That is, you don't try to dodge the underlying fact that what you're doing may not be in their best interest — or even fair to them (at least over the short run).

Hence, you don't suddenly create a fight to give you an excuse, don't say they'll be better off with someone else, don't do so over the phone or text or Post-it note — which cuts off their chance to ask the questions they need to ask — don't drag things on long past an expiration date, and such. Is this a fair way to look at it?

Carolyn: Yes, and I'm wishing that's how I'd written it.

I don't think the phone breakup is the worst possible thing to do, though. For long-distance relationships, for breaking up with someone violent or who would want the privacy, and for any other scenarios where the in-person conversation isn't practical, a phone call is entirely defensible.

In general, though, I get a lot of questions that are just long ways of asking, "How do I dump someone without causing pain?" — and the answer is, you can't. You can avoid gratuitous pain. That's it.

Comments
Your 4-year-old daughter could land a role in ‘Waitress’ at the Straz

Your 4-year-old daughter could land a role in ‘Waitress’ at the Straz

TAMPA — Could your 4-year-old be the next Lulu? A touring Broadway show wants to find out. Waitress, which runs April 24-29 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, is looking for a local 4- to 5-year old to play a small but c...
Published: 02/23/18

Tell Me About It: Teacher distant after co-worker’s faux pas

I am a teacher at a large high school, and typically only interact with those in my wing of the school. On the first day we returned from break, I bumped into "Polly" while signing in and cheerfully asked, "How was your [vacation]?" She glared at me ...
Published: 02/23/18

Tell Me About It: Daughter needs an ear, not to be rescued

Q: My daughter is in a relationship with her high school boyfriend. They are now living together in a different state with no relatives nearby. My daughter, 25, is a people person with a bubbly personality and makes friends easily. Her boyfriend does...
Published: 02/22/18
Plan your weekend: Monster Energy Supercross. Gasparilla Distance Classic, Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival, slam poet Neil Hilborn

Plan your weekend: Monster Energy Supercross. Gasparilla Distance Classic, Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival, slam poet Neil Hilborn

Extreme Monster Energy Supercross Championship: The action-packed dirt bike stunts and racing returns to Tampa for the first time in two decades. Each track in the 16-city series is different, so competitors will ride between 15 and 20 laps around t...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/22/18
As spring approaches, parties, food festivals bloom at Florida’s theme parks

As spring approaches, parties, food festivals bloom at Florida’s theme parks

Can you feel it? The air is gradually thickening with humidity and the layers of clothes are getting thinner. Spring has almost sprung and with it brings a bumper crop of festivals in Florida’s theme parks full of food, wine, concerts and parades. Th...
Published: 02/21/18
In theaters this week: ‘Annihilation’ based on Florida author Jeff VanderMeer’s book, ‘Game Night,’ ‘Every Day’

In theaters this week: ‘Annihilation’ based on Florida author Jeff VanderMeer’s book, ‘Game Night,’ ‘Every Day’

ANNIHILATIONAuthor Jeff VanderMeer told me at last year’s Times Festival of Reading that Annihilation (R) is going to blow everyone’s mind. The Tallahassee author is biased, of course, having written the novel it’s based on, but there’s some reason t...
Published: 02/21/18
Top things to do this weekend: Supercross Championship, Olate Dogs, Gasparilla Distance Classic

Top things to do this weekend: Supercross Championship, Olate Dogs, Gasparilla Distance Classic

BIKE RACE: Monster Energy Supercross ChampionshipThe action-packed dirt bike stunts and racing of the Monster Energy Supercross Championship return to Tampa for the first time in two decades. Motorcyclists will race at more than 60 mph and fly off ju...
Published: 02/21/18
This week’s top concerts: Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, Clearwater Sea-Blues and more

This week’s top concerts: Willie Nelson, Los Lobos, Clearwater Sea-Blues and more

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Willie NelsonI’m sure that when Willie Nelson had to postpone his recent Clearwater concert after a bout with the flu, you, like me, took the news well, spitting through clenched teeth: "OH NO YOU DON’T, 2018. YOU WILL NOT TAKE WIL...
Published: 02/21/18
Green Thumb, Flamingo Festival and more spring festivals coming to Tampa Bay

Green Thumb, Flamingo Festival and more spring festivals coming to Tampa Bay

spring eventsFlamingo FestivalHelp celebrate the young flock of flamingos that recently arrived at Sunken Gardens at a colorful festival with live music, kids activities, and beer and wine for sale. Wear pink for $1 off admission. $10, $8 seniors, $4...
Published: 02/21/18
5 things to do under $5: The Romantics, Free Hugs Guy, Ybor Fiesta Day

5 things to do under $5: The Romantics, Free Hugs Guy, Ybor Fiesta Day

1Blast Friday: This block party in downtown Clearwater brings a free show by the Romantics, right, the power pop new wave band that brought us What I Like About You and Talking in Your Sleep. There’s also a family-friendly food and craft vendor...
Published: 02/21/18