Maritha Pottenger

One of you asked me to do the “next step” after the Bridge Divorce Teaching Point—tips on how to break up with a bridge partner.

The answer is: be as honest and compassionate as you possibly can. Frame the issue in terms of differences in style, in attitudes about bridge—and nothing at all about anyone's intelligence, skill, desirability as a friend, etc.

I would also preface any “bridge separation” discussion with a statement (if true) about how much I value my (bridge) partner's friendship and mention some positive attributes BEFORE moving into the difficult portion of breaking up. If I want to keep seeing this person socially—going out to eat, out to the symphony, out to movies, baseball games, etc., together—be very clear about that. Your goal is to be sure that your partner does not feel your request for a break in the partnership is any kind of personal rejection of his/her individual worth. Honesty could include: “I am worried that you will feel like what I say next means I think you are at fault or lacking, and that is NOT at all the case.”

Many partnerships are unbalanced because one partner is more competitive and the other is more laid-back or sees bridge as more of a social outlet. The competitive individual may feel frustrated by his/her partner's unwillingness to take classes, go over hands, go to tournaments, etc. The more socially oriented partner may feel frustrated by pressure or criticism coming from the competitive one. And so on.

The truth is: A partnership with very different styles is more difficult. A comment such as: “I feel our bridge styles just aren't meshing well right now. I'd like to take a break. How do you feel about that?” might lead to a fruitful discussion and possibly a mutual agreement to try other partnerships (at least for awhile.)

Even without major differences in style, there is some invisible “chemistry” in bridge partnerships (as in romantic ones) which is hard to define and identify, but does make a difference. Some partners have many more bidding misunderstandings than others—and not particularly related to skill level. It is worth acknowledging if the “chemistry” is just not working between two of you. [“You seem to understand other partners better than me.”]

The Golden Rule of treating your partner as gently, sympathetically, and forthrightly as you would want to be treated will keep you on track.

Best of luck and remember: bridge is still a game.

Loving kindness is the most important thing in life.