My 10-year-old turned around to me the other day and said: “Mummy, which is the bad person: the dumper or the dumpee?”
It led on to a conversation that made the playground dating scene seem like a Stalinist regime where basically dumping someone makes you an outcast.
I explained to my son that as heartbreaking as being told that someone might not like you in the same way you like them is, that it’s not an act of evil to be honest about your feelings. I mean look at the alternatives: you never have the fun of puppy love, of exchanging friendship bands or Pokémon cards or whatever the big thing of moment is, and whilst avoiding dating drama may seem tempting it is quite a good way to hone your social skills before hormones complicate things even further. Or you just pretend to like someone who likes you in order to not be the ‘bad guy’; this seemed to be the path my son was considering with his (not so) secret admirer but I pointed out that by doing this he wasn’t, in fact, choosing the kinder path.
To hide how you actually feel, to make someone think that you like them more than you do is actually not kind to either party. Also it can lead to the cruellest of dating behaviours, that of ghosting someone who has no idea of your feelings towards them and no way of finding out.
Let us be honest the likelihood of finding the great love of your life at primary school or even secondary school is rather slim and therefore he does need to learn the skills, and undoubtedly experience the pain, of heartbreak.
As a mother of a boy I feel I have a real duty to raise a son who treats women the right way, I just didn’t think I’d be up against a fascist no-dumping regime when I did that.