WHAT ARE THE ETHICS OF BREAKUPS

It’s never the right moment to break up. It’s an awful thing to say, but once you’ve decided to break up with
your partner, the apparently minor issue of timing can become a huge obstacle. Something always seems to come up, just when you’re finally ready to make your move.

Let’s face it, it’s hard for most of us to play the bad guy; we would almost rather provoke the other person into doing the dirty deed. But if you have to be the perp, you don’t want to compound the felony by hitting your partner when they’re down.

Or when they’re happy . . .


So your announcement gets postponed, sometimes for months or even years.

Reasons why you can’t break it off this week:
• His favorite aunt had a heart attack and is in the ICU.
• His high school reunion is coming around.
• Your best friends are celebrating their tenth anniversary.
• Thanksgiving is next week.
• Christmas is in two weeks.
• It’s the Super Bowl.
• Valentine’s Day.
• It’s his birthday tomorrow.
• The family is gathering for Easter.
• He just got the big promotion he’s been working towards.
• He had a really bad day; looks like he may be laid off.
• You had a really bad day and can’t face any more stress.
• The coast is finally clear but things perversely improve between you.

Really, it’s impossible to pick the right moment. There is no moment when a fair-minded referee would say, “Okay, commit your foul now.” There isn’t a morning when you wake up and your partner is standing there in a T-shirt that reads: if you break up with me right now, it won’t hurt me and won’t cause any trouble.

So what do many people do? They just pick any moment and strike. And that looks cold and cruel to the other person and to the world.

Or they wait till a fight erupts, till they’re so mad at the other person that they don’t give a damn. That would take care of it.

Or they nurse the impulse, lock it in some inner jewel box, bring it out when they’re annoyed and finger it; it becomes a fantasy that gives relief during the bad times and is almost abandoned during the good times.

But not quite: there it remains in the box, creating a sort of permanent latent betrayal.


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