Hi Carolyn: I’m 16 and in my first relationship. We’ve been dating just over a month. At first I really liked him, but the more I’m getting to know him, I kind of want out.
The thing is, I don’t know how to break up with someone. He’s graduating this year and keeps talking about our future when he goes to college. I haven’t really given any warning signs, so as far as he knows I’m perfectly happy.
This may seem a bit melodramatic, but I seriously don’t know what to do. –Young and Clueless
If it’s any consolation, most breakups are melodramatic. This can apply at 32 and in your nth relationship.
That said, you can do a lot to minimize the misery of breakup – most of it (she said unhelpfully) well before you want to break up.
Choosing carefully is one such disaster-prevention measure. Not every choice will be a winner and, cheez, you’re 16. But you can try to avoid people who are explosive or punitive – and not commit to people you don’t know well yet.
The next breakup softener is to confide in people who want what’s best for you, versus themselves. Having someone to confide in outside a relationship can keep you from feeling stuck. Again, true at 16, 36, 60.
The most important element of a good breakup, though? Honesty throughout the relationship, from Go.
Consider your dilemma: Your boyfriend stands to be blindsided because “as far as he knows I’m perfectly happy.” It is so important not to feign contentment when your doubts are piling up.
So when a boyfriend waxes poetic and you’re still in prose, don’t just look at the floor. Say where you are, and why; if you don’t know why, then admit you don’t know.
It’s late with your boyfriend, but start anyway: “I haven’t been fair to you. When you’ve talked about next year, I haven’t admitted that I’m not ready for that.” Responsibility taken, truth told, conversation started.