Men. Dudes. My boys. Jaunterinos. I get it. Breaking up with someone is hard. It’s usually not fun, and you’ll probably hurt the other person’s feelings in the process. But I swear to god, you can’t just “fizz” someone out of your life.
Fizzing, in case you’re not familiar, is a trendy new name for that age-old dating practice where you end things with someone by cutting off contact. Men’s Health contributors Zachary Zane and Philip Ellis wrote about fizzing earlier this week, explaining that it’s “when you happily date someone for a couple of months, and things peter out without a formal breakup conversation.”
Sounds a lot like ghosting someone, right? Well, it’s different—at least according to Zane and Ellis. Ghosting is where you actively ignore someone you’ve been seeing, leaving them confused about the end of their relationship. Fizzing, they argue, is when you both stop reaching out at the same time, perhaps due to a shared, though unspoken, lack of interest in keeping things going with the other party.
That distinction makes sense, I guess, but it still strikes me as two ways of solving the exact same problem: You don’t want to see someone anymore, but you also don’t want to tell them you don’t want to see them anymore, so you simply stop seeing them without telling them you’ve stopped seeing them.
I really don’t want to invoke regressive gendered language that associates maleness with stereotypical traits like masculinity, strength, force, and courage, but in this case I must be clear: Man the fuck up! If you want to end things with someone, own that desire and tell them directly! Why? It’ll be better for you—and better for her/him/them—in the long run. Even the experts agree!
"Rarely do both people have exactly the same feelings about what has happened, what is happening and what not speaking means,” Gail Saltz, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, told Zane and Ellis. "Avoidance denies closure, [and] keeps either of you from learning about yourselves and from possibly finding out there was something that could have been repaired and made the relationship worth keeping.”
So, now that you know what you must do, the question remains: Do You Have To Directly Acknowledge The Situation? Consider carefully which of the following scenarios apply before making your next move.
- This person is my girlfriend/boyfriend/partner: I shouldn’t have to tell you to break up with them in person??? You must directly acknowledge this situation.
- We’ve been seeing each other/dating/whatever for at least couple months (as in having sex but also going on dates, talking about feelings, revealing ourselves as more than just holes, but hearts and minds as well): You must directly acknowledge the situation and do this in person (barring any personal safety concerns, obviously!). You owe them this. Think of the guilt you’ll carry if you text them “It’s over.” Have you no shame? Wait, what? You don’t? OK, then just call them or text them, you monster.
- We’ve been fucking and maybe gone on like one or two dates: Please consider directly acknowledging the situation and breaking things off in person, especially if you’re in a community with your partner and will likely see them in the future. If not and you’ll probably never see them again, a phone call is fine.
- We’ve just been fucking: The next time they hit you up, say you’re not interested in continuing this thing! Texting is fine! Continuing to look at their Instagram Story every day and liking all of their posts is not! Don’t be weird!
- We’ve just been fucking, but only one time: Basically same rules, but also feel free to ignore/block/whatever. Telling someone “no” or “I’m not interested” isn’t that hard, but also…you don’t know this person. You don’t owe them anything! Unless you know them. Then you owe them a simple text!
In conclusion, stop being weird! Own your desires! Other people are people, even the ones you don’t want to fuck anymore.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.