How do you disappoint someone?

arzvi ‏@arzvi: how to handle disappointing someone without burning the bridge?


One time I wanted to break up with a girlfriend but I was afraid to do it. I had no idea how to disappoint her. So I moved cities. And then four months later she finally broke up with me. And a few seconds after she broke up with me she called back and didn’t want to break up. And we went back and forth like that for awhile. Finally, she broke up with me for good. And she went and met a new guy. And got married, got a law degree, had some children, has a successful career and marriage. All because I was too afraid to disappoint her.

Don’t make such big assumptions. What was so great about me that I was so sure I was going to disappoint her. Her life is 1000 times better now without me. As is the case with just about everyone who has ever broken up with me or stopped doing business with me. What is so great about you that you are so sure you are going to disappoint someone. You have no idea. Nor do they.

Here’s what I do know:

– don’t make any big assumptions about who is disappointing who. That is just ego.

– don’t assume you will burn a bridge. Bridges that are burned are often rebuilt to be stronger and sturdier. Even if for awhile traffic has to go around a different path, eventually the bridge gets rebuilt with the newest materials. Trust in that. You can’t burn a real bridge forever. A girl who very tragically (to me) broke up with me 22 years ago (almost to the day) has recently gotten back in touch with me. Now we are friends and I can watch as her children grow and I can see how happy she is. That fills me with happiness, no matter how disappointed I was back in 1990.

– Be honest about how you feel. The feeling of “leave now” will eat at you until you do it. Be honest, be straightforward, and you will avoid much pain that will happen anyway. You are already on an inescapable path to doing what you have to do. So just do it now and be honest about it.

– You’re not so great. We’re all trying to figure our way out in the world. We all need some adventure until that right situation comes along where we can settle down and relax. Sooner or later you have to get on with it. And so does the other person. Don’t hold out. Just do what you have to do and make everyone’s life better.