It can become a huge challenge to end something that never was. Because, we sometimes find ourselves in that uncomfortable place of ending a relationship we did not know how we got into in the first place. You know, that friendship that slipped into a romantic relationship, and you have no idea how it happened.
That casual flirting that had turned into a relationship in the mind of the other person. Some even delude themselves and share the news of your dating with others. If that is not self delusion, what else can it be? Okay, maybe me dating me. These types of relationships, which we will call ‘unofficial relationships’ can be hard to break off, because in the mind of the other person, you are an item and destined to for the altar. Not to forget, living happily ever after.
A short story to make things clearer; Chichi had been friends with Daniel for a long time, since secondary school. Back then, their class mates thought they were dating but they were not. It did not matter what two of them said, other guys interested in Chichi stayed well away from her. No one wanted to cross Daniel, who had a reputation for having a hot temper.
Chichi did not see that as a problem, as none of the guys caught her fancy anyway. But by the time they met again, during their NYSC, they returned to status quo. Right from camp, Daniel was right, left and center, blocking any moves other guys wanted to make, like Jackie Chan. Again, they were tagged a couple.
However, things were different this time around; Chichi was in a committed relationship. So, that label was not doing her any favours. People were telling tales, and given how fast rumour travels, she was sure her boyfriend was going to find out soon. Her attempts to break away from him were firmly rebuffed. He just did not get the memo.
Now, that it is clear to you, if care is not taken in situations like this, one would be in this ‘unofficial relationship’ for years without even knowing, going through the motions, until, maybe, the other party pops the question, or you find the person for you and that ‘friend’ is hurt beyond reason. You might even not know it, until you suddenly realise that no other guy or lady is coming come along, because they all think that you are taken. Talk about spoiling one’s market.
The beauty of these unofficial relationships is that it does not make you feel lonely, even when you are actually single and searching. It gives you a false sense of security that can only be had in real relationships. It makes it easier to bury your head in the sand, like an ostrich, and ignore your singlehood.
The sad part is, it can push all other viable options, ladies and guys, away from you. They see you hanging around this person and they add two and two together to get 22, quite normal reaction. Only they will be wrong, because, the relationship only exists in one person’s mind. All they see is a man and a woman always together, which, in their minds, equals they are dating. But in a case where both parties are not aware they are having an unofficial relationship…hmmm, now that’s scary!
So, for those, who know they have unofficial boyfriends or girlfriends in their lives, how do you end these relationships? Mind you, it is a really beautiful thing when friends become romantic partners, but when either of the partners does not have romantic feelings for the other person, let them go their separate way, and stop the fooling around. No bells, no butterflies dancing the jig in your belly, when you see this friend…just be gone.
One way, you can break off this relationship is to break it off slowly. You know, like how a theatric production ends, the actors just start disappearing, one by one, the lights dim, the music hits the end note, and you know that it is time you went home. That’s how this method works. It is not a drastic break off, you actually just stop picking calls, replying messages later than usual until, until things fade away gradually. After all, if you were just friends, each person would have a life and would be busy at times like this.
When enough dust has settled, you can pick up the strands of the friendship. Not answering calls or replying messages does not mean that friends are forgotten, right? It simply passes the message that you are no longer as available as you once were.
Another way you can go about it is ghosting. This is the ultimate disappearing act, one moment, you are together, next moment, poof! You are a no show. It is a new way of ending relationships. In this instance, you make an abrupt break up, no discussion, no dragging feet, no long thing. You just disappear. This is a nasty way, and if truth be told, a rude way to break up, even an “unofficial relationship.”
Eventually, the other person would get the message, that whatever was between them was over and done with. And if they don’t, then you can try the bold way out, which is talking about it. Well, this is the bold way, no sneaking around, no drama techniques, just plain talking. If that friendship is important to you and you would not like to lose it, then you need to take this route. Here, you are leaving nothing to chance, about the other party misunderstanding the message that your unofficial relationship is over.
But you need a game plan; you have to be firm, and not compromise during the maneuvering and arm-twisting that will ensue during that talk.
Whatever method you decide to use, remember that you need to be clear in your decision; it is time to end the relationship and let in some fresh blood. Don’t bother telling the other person that you can still be friends, when you know it will only complicate things.
End it and stay clear!
Kristine is a member of the The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.