Turns out not every reality dating show contestant is terrible all the time (even if it can be fun when they are).
We may have some things to learn from Farmer Wants A Wife’s Rob Campbell, who seems to have no problem telling the people he’s dating that he doesn’t see a future with them before either side is too invested.
But what do the experts think about the sheep and cattle farmer’s dumping strategy?
We caught up with sexologist Kassandra Mourikis and relationship therapist Samantha Forbes to find out how they’d recommend going about breakups.
How Rob broke up with 10 women
Haven’t seen the show? Here’s a quick recap.
Rob, a 40-year-old father of two from the Snowy Mountains, is given eight potential wives to speed date at the beginning of the series. What a sentence that was to type.
Anyway, since this is reality TV some brutal decisions have to be made, fast: Rob must choose five of the eight women to date back at his farm before the end of the first episode.
He doesn’t mess around with suspense before announcing his picks. He does it swiftly, and hugs every woman he rejects.
By the end of the first week, Rob realises it isn’t going to work out with two of the five women he selected.
The rules of the game state he only needs to send one home at this point, but he concludes: why lead someone else along when he already knows there’s nothing there?
So, he breaks the news at a group dinner, shocking everyone at the table. But by the end of the episode, Shannon and Jodi say they are happy to have known sooner.
But wait, there’s so much more
Fast forward a bit and, after some more quality time with his potential wives, Rob has another realisation.
“Unfortunately you just can’t manufacture love,” he says (despite having agreed to appear on a show that seemingly aims to do exactly that).
He assembles the remaining three ladies he’s been seeing up to this point.
“I sort of think probably we’re great friends but I don’t know if I’m feeling that lightning bolt connection with any of you,” he tells them.
“Because I do respect you so much, I don’t wanna have you hanging around. You’ve all got lives to go back to, children, jobs. It’s a very hard decision to make but I just think it’s probably best if you head home.
Meg, Luce and Kate are taken aback, but they all hug goodbye and things seem amicable enough.
The producers then pull four more women (basically out of nowhere, I have so many questions), for Rob.
Later in the series, he decides to send one of them, Sarah, home. He does it by pulling her for a chat and asking her how she feels about their time together. Together, they agree they should be friends.
And that’s that. They all hug (there’s lots of hugging on this show) and Sarah heads home.
A couple of episodes later and it’s time for the second last breakup before Rob makes his final decision between Vici or Kate (unless he does another Rob and breaks up with them both at once).
For this one he pulls Leah for a chat in the kitchen and thanks her for a lovely week, before saying he feels like he’s made a really great friend.
Leah agrees, and guess what? There’s another hug.
What the experts have to say about Rob’s approach
Rob broke up with multiple women at a time, three times — two of which were simply because he decided ending it sooner was kindest.
But Ms Mourikis says she can see how this could have been a confronting experience for the women being dumped.
“They may have felt like there wasn’t the space or privacy for them to express [their feelings] or ask questions and that can make it feel a bit depersonalised,” she says.
Still, Ms Mourikis says the language Rob used was overall really clear and respectful.
“It acknowledged [he] wasn’t feeling a connection or an attraction, and that he wasn’t prepared for it to continue … Then he acknowledged their feelings and his feelings,” she says.
Ms Forbes thinks Rob’s strategy was “pretty reasonable” too.
But she points out reality show breakups are always going to be different to the ones that happen IRL.
It’s also worth pointing out that there would have been an audience for Rob’s breakups regardless of whether he did it “one on one”, because there’s no such thing as alone time on programs like this one.
So, assuming you’re not a reality show contestant, how should you go about breaking up with someone?
Advice on breaking the news
Ms Forbes advises going into every breakup with the understanding that they’re “about rejection and that’s always hard”.
“I don’t think there’s any such thing as breaking up with somebody kindly,” she adds.
But there are definitely dos and don’ts.
“If you’ve been dating face to face … break up face to face,” Ms Forbes says.
“[And when delivering the breakup] it’s really important to be clear that this is actually your final decision.
“It can [also] be really helpful to give some insight into why you felt like you weren’t a good fit,” Ms Mourikis suggests.
She explains this could involve sharing what your expectations were and in what ways they’re not being met right now, using respectful — as opposed to blaming — language.
“Take responsibility for the fact that you don’t have a connection or you’re not attracted to them, rather than them failing in some way,” which Ms Mourikis says she thinks Rob did pretty well.
Both experts recommend striving for honesty throughout the process — so long as you’re not brutal about it.
If you struggle working out what that means, exactly, Ms Forbes says you could try thinking about what it would feel like to be on the receiving end of what you’re thinking of saying.
“[Unless you want to stay in touch], making it short and sweet … is probably important so [the other person] can go away and recover from the experience, particularly if it’s a surprise for them,” she says.
But Ms Forbes and Ms Mourikis say a breakup would ideally never be a surprise.
After you’ve had the conversation
“I think we think about breaking up as a single moment in time where a person says, ‘I don’t want to be in a relationship with you anymore’. [But it’s] a process that takes place over a period of time,” Ms Forbes offers.
So what needs to happen after those words have been uttered?
Both experts say you should be willing to answer questions your former partner might have.
Ms Mourikis suggests figuring out what your own preferences and boundaries are. You might want some space, for example, or to end contact completely.
“Be really clear about what communication is OK, versus what’s not,” she says.
“Have a discussion where you can both share your preferences, and respect them.”
Ms Forbes doesn’t recommend lying.
“The reality is that most people don’t stay friends after a breakup,” she says.
This is why she suggests being realistic about whether you want to stay in touch before agreeing to because you feel like you should, for example.
“It can be really hurtful to say, ‘Yeah sure, let’s stay in touch’, and to never contact the person again.”
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