By Liz Welch
Anna is sitting in a New York café, sipping an English Breakfast tea. Dressed in patterned tights and a black sweaterdress, the 20-something Smith College grad has auburn curls and big brown eyes. Pretty? Yes. Sexy? Sure. Sex addict? No way. But she's currently being treated for sex addiction, seeing a therapist once a week and attending daily support groups, after an affair last year almost ruined her marriage and landed her in sex rehab. "I always knew I focused too much on...
But is there really a way to make a clean and honest break? Is it ever OK to
lie when ending a romantic relationship? Can you IM him or her that it's over,
or do you have to do it in person? Is it really possible to be friends with
your ex after a breakup?
"The nature of how to handle a breakup has to do with how you experience
a relationship," says New York City-based psychoanalyst and psychotherapist
Janice Lieberman, PhD, who specializes in relationship issues.
For starters, she says, not every relationship deserves a dramatic breakup.
There are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes a relationship.
"There are people who think they have a relationship with two dates and
people who don't think they are in a relationship after 20 dates," she
says. "If you have gone on one or two or three dates, not calling is
breaking up, but after some kind of romantic and sexual encounters, it is a
courtesy to call," Lieberman tells WebMD.
"Sometimes it's easier not to call, and there are people who will just
run away," she admits.
The explosion of Internet dating has also muddied the waters in terms of
when an actual breakup is necessary, she says.
"People have Internet relations for a long time and then elevate to
phone calls. Sometimes it takes a long time for a face-to-face encounter. This
can be problematic, because people get very involved with each other and then
when they finally meet, there are so many other cues that indicate they're not
suited for one another," she says.
The warning signs that a breakup is imminent have also changed thanks to
Internet dating, Lieberman says.
"People will go out with someone they met on Jdate.com or match.com, and
then you can see if they are surfing the Net and looking for someone else,"
she says. This is far less subtle than, say, acting cold on a date or not
calling when you said you would.
Don't Break Up Over Email
The tabloids widely reported that pop star Britney Spears broke up with her
now-ex-husband Kevin Federline via a text message. But text messages, emails,
or other high-tech message delivery systems are not the best medium for ending
a romantic relationship.