Ask Alison: Break Up Promptly, and Always Unfriend

Good advice from someone who is terrible at dating

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I recently went on several dates with a woman. To be clear, these were dates, in that I picked her up, paid, and was painfully charming. On our third date we kissed, but she pulled away and told me that she has a boyfriend. I was ... surprised. Later that night she texted me, apologized and told me that she was going through a "slow breakup." Should I give her some space and maybe try again in a few months? I really like her.

She is going through a slow breakup in the sense that everyone in a bad relationship is. That doesn't mean it's going to end any time soon. It's unfortunate that sometimes when people are unhappy, they use that as an excuse to hurt people like you who don't deserve it. Whether or not this girl is truly unhappy in her current relationship or, more likely, unhappy with herself, she is not an option for you right now. Which you seem to already know.

I know cheating is a cut and dry issue for most people, but I don't know, I can't really wrap my head around it. The lying and the deceit are decidedly bad traits in a person, no question. But we're all capable of being monsters if the situation is right. Speaking on someone who was once in a relationship with someone who was always finding new and exciting ways to sleep with anyone other than me, I mostly just feel sorry for him. Because he has to wake up every morning as himself, terrified of being close to someone and always worried that he might be found out. This is also after years of hating him.

It's up to you to say if this girl is worth pursuing down the road (in like, a year). Don't wait around, though.

My roommate told me that she thinks my boyfriend and I fight too much, and that maybe it's time to take a break. She is my best friend and has to hear about all of my silly little complaints about him. But I'm happy, so she's wrong, right?

So when you're in love, your brain releases endorphins into your bloodstream that tell your brain that it's totally fine that a grown man still has a Scarface poster in his bedroom, or whatever. Know that you aren't really an objective opinion on the subject of your relationship. At the same time, it's nobody's business, and you don't have to take any advice that is given to you on the subject. Including mine.

Your friend -- assuming she is a good one and this isn't some sort of Regina George situation -- cares about you and wants the best for you. She is hearing about your fights and complaints from you and maybe seeing some of it first hand and it doesn't sound like she likes it. I know that once I start really complaining about a significant other to friends, the end is near.

She also just suggested that you take a break, not end things for good with Chad (I assume all garbage boyfriends are named Chad). Breaks are great! They give you time and clarity. To see if you even really miss this guy or if you're just used to him. If you realize you still want to be with this person, great. Be with him, don't complain about him.

Should I unfriend my ex on Facebook? I can't stop checking her page.

Yes. Yes times one million. Forget about being polite or civil and take care of your own emotional well-being. If you find that you can't help but look or that you're spending big chunks of your day wondering what a post on her wall may have meant, remove the temptation. Sometimes it's a relief. I know I've dated some guys who are awful on Twitter, and it's always a relief when I get to unfollow them.

I'm a big fan of cold turkey after a breakup. It keeps you from doing anything really weird, like tearfully showing up to an event they RSVP'd to. Delete them out of your phone, unfriend on Facebook and any other social media platforms, at least right after while you're still just an open wound. It's a very sad ritual that our generation has to deal with. Imagine being our parents, where you could break up with someone and then just assume they ceased to exist and maybe once a year you'd see an old Polaroid and then need to drink a tall scotch in front of a rainy window. So much classier than unsubscribing from a Spotify playlist.

Don't think of it as a malicious thing. Consider shooting her an email letting her know that you're doing it, because you think it's best, not because you hate her. Unless you do. If it was a bad breakup with no hope of friendship or at least polite acquaintances, then she's probably expecting it. Think of it like you're giving her back her stuff, only it's Instagram.

You're allowed to do whatever you need to do to get over a breakup, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else or involve you standing on a lawn with a boom box. There is nothing like removing someone from your life to make you realize how much space they were taking up.

If you have questions about relationship etiquette, please send them to Ask Alison [at] The Atlantic (.com).