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  • It's a skill that's just as important, but far less studied, than knowing how to start things off.

  • We're typically appalling at it.

  • We mumble, we delay, we become strange, we hedge, and there's one reason we make such a mess of it, it's not that we're inept or dumb or cruel.

  • It's that we're trying to be kind.

  • That's the origin of all our ineptness, stupidity and cruelty.

  • We hesitate to be cold and try to be nice because we are sentimental.

  • The essence of sentimentality is the desire to be liked, even by those you don't like and can no longer be bothered with.

  • It's a narcissistic longing to continue to receive the emotion of love without wanting to pay for it.

  • But kindness has no role whatsoever to play at the charred end of relationships.

  • Being sweet and understanding merely prolongs the torture for the other person.

  • If we're being so tender, is it really possible that we truly mean the dark things we are ostensibly saying?

  • Could we be so loving and at the same time, calling it a day?

  • We need above all else to kill hope.

  • But instead, too often, we just waffle.

  • Marcel Proust wisely observed: "At the end of relationships, it's the one who is not in love who makes the tender speeches."

  • Parting lovers may end up in the grotesque situation of one person crying because they are being left.

  • And the other crying because of the distress that announcing the departure has caused them, tears that are mistaken by the abandoned party for signs of care.

  • The kindest way to end a relationship is just to make extremely brutal speeches of a sort that will leave the other person in no doubt at all that you're not an especially nice person.

  • The truly courageous way to leave is to allow yourself to be hated by someone who loves you.

  • That's generosity.

  • There's no excuse for delay.

  • Don't imagine that you're doing someone a favour by dragging out how long they can persist in the benign illusion that you want them.

  • Their real priority is to stop wasting their lives.

  • Don't imagine that they won't ever find anyone else like you: they may believe that now and might even sweetly tell you so.

  • But they won't believe it when they finally understand who you actually are.

  • Real kindness means getting outeven though the holiday has been booked and it will be terribly awkward to tell everyone at this late stage.

  • There's nothing at all wrong with deciding that someone isn't for you.

  • There is something very wrong with ruining large chunks of someone else's life while you squeamishly and sentimentally hesitate to get out of the way.

It's a skill that's just as important, but far less studied, than knowing how to start things off.

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