Neil Sedaka did say it best, in all of his 70's music glory: Breaking up IS hard to do, so in my opinion it's easier to break it off before things get, well, broken.
What's the difference between breaking it off and breaking up? Simple. Breaking it off is after those first few dates when things could get serious. When you could end up getting invited to the nephew's birthday party or the obligatory cousin's wedding.
Dating the wrong person is like wearing a pair of shoes a size too small. It doesn't matter how long you wear them for or how many attempts you make at breaking them in, they're going to cause you pain. So know what you're looking for before you put yourself out there. If you're ready to date, you know that part of that is knowing exactly what you want. So here are my 3 tips for breaking it off before it becomes breaking up.
1. Be honest with yourself and with the other person.
This is where you really need to rely on that list of what you want. If the relationship you're getting isn't your end-all-be-all, then you need to share that. It doesn't have to be a big, heavy conversation where you pace and wring your hands. A simple "this isn't really what I want out of a relationship" statement will suffice. If you're dating people because you want to find a steady relationship, then this statement opens up the door to the two of you either discussing what you both want, or you can follow that with "so while I'm happy to remain friends with you, I don't think that I see us dating." Hold on to this, and don't be dissuaded.
2. Don't have this conversation on a date, unless it's the first one.
If you've gone out with someone three or four times, you owe it to them to have an eye-to-eye conversation. Don't chicken out and send them a text. Don't disappear off the planet and lose their number. Ask if you can meet them for lunch (a finite period of time) and just tell them. My only caveat to this is - you can definitely have this conversation on a first date if you've met someone online and you're just not feeling the connection. Be quick, be calm and carry on.
3. Treat the other person exactly as you would want to be treated
Ah, the Golden Rule! It exists in so many circles in our lives, and it applies equally to dating (both the good and the bad). I have been on some heinous dates where I haven't followed this rule, and it creeps back into my consciousness when I'm faced with a bad situation again. Be polite and respectful, and treat the other person with every consideration you would want if someone were going to tell you this wasn't right for them.
Yes, breaking it off and breaking up can be a difficult thing to do, but it's part of being human, and definitely part of dating. If you're feeling angst over this process, remember - it's worse to be in a bad relationship than it is to be alone.