Time to Say Goodbye: Ending a Roleplay
Occasionally, things do not work out the way you envisioned. That point may come shortly after initial contact, upon the realization that your limits do not match with those of your new roleplay partner’s, or deep into the roleplay when you realize the story has just grown stale and you have lost interest. Details aside, one thing is for certain: the time has come to close the chapter of that roleplay partnership.
This is certainly easier said than done for some; most people do not enjoy the feeling that they may be disappointing another person. However, ending a roleplay partnership is an important skill to master - so let’s walk through those steps together today.
Realizing the time has come.
There are many reasons why a roleplay partnership may no longer be suitable. Some of the most common reasons to cut ties are the following:
A lack of time to commit to the hobby.
The storyline/characters are no longer holding interest.
The partner is not a good match.
Boundaries were broken and/or expectations were not met.
You do not need a reason to cut ties. There is no obligation to continue interacting with anyone should you find that you no longer wish to be in contact. This is important for you to internalize and will assist you in setting healthy boundaries. With that in mind, identifying the reason you find yourself no longer satisfied can be helpful in broaching the subject with a roleplay partner to whom you wish to say goodbye.
Broaching the topic.
The best way to start a conversation about ending a partnership is to address the pain point. If there is no particular reason, or you do not feel comfortable discussing the reason, a simple statement such as the following will suffice:
“Hello! I just wanted to let you know that I am no longer really interested in continuing to roleplay at this time. I appreciate your time up until now and wish you luck in your future endeavors. Have a great rest of your day.”
Some reasons may be solvable with discussions, such as a lack of interest in the storyline or characters. Bringing up that you are no longer satisfied can be intimidating, but the results can be rewarding. Here are some good examples of how you can start that conversation:
“Hello, I wanted to talk to you about the (plot/characters/setting) of our roleplay. I have been feeling uninspired lately and I think that is affecting my enthusiasm for the story. Would you mind talking about it?”
“Hello! I had an idea for the (plot/characters/setting) that I wanted to run by you. Is now a good time?”
Other reasons may not be solvable, but could still benefit from a brief discussion to give you a sense of closure. For example, boundaries and/or expectations were broken. On these occasions, it is very helpful if you can refer back to the point in which expectations and limits were set. You cannot expect someone to know that they are crossing a boundary if they were never told the boundary existed.
Keep in mind, people can get defensive when they are told they have done something wrong. Depending on how much you wish to discuss the issue, here are some good ways to enter into this particular topic of conversation:
Hello, when we first started roleplaying we set some limits/expectations in regards to (insert topic here). Recently, those limits/expectations were broken when (insert occurrence that resulted in the breach of agreements). I wanted to bring this up because this made me uncomfortable. Do you have time to talk about it? Hello, I wanted to let you know that I am no longer comfortable continuing with this roleplay partnership. I feel that the limits/expectations we set when we first started, (insert limit/expectation here), was broken when (insert occurrence of the broken limit expectation here). I hope you can understand and I wish you luck with your future roleplay endeavors.
There may be occasions where you only want to say goodbye temporarily. You suddenly find you are busier than you expected with responsibilities. Your mental health has taken a turn and you just need some time away from the hobby to practice self-care habits. In cases where you are feeling that you are struggling with your mental health, please feel free to use these resources. Disappearing entirely on your roleplay partner is never recommended. Ghosting is considered rude and jeopardizes your chances of picking that story back up later down the line. Instead, this is a good time to have an honest conversation.
Start by determining how much you wish to share. What you want to reveal about your personal life is yours to decide. Oftentimes a partner will understand even if you do not give in-depth details. Being comfortable with how vulnerable you are being with your roleplay partner will help your confidence in having an effective conversation. Some good approaches to take with starting these conversations are as follows:
Hello! Life has gotten really busy lately, and while I really want to keep up with my response rate I do not think I currently can. Would it be alright if we took a break until (insert a time frame you think would be reasonable here)?
Hello! I need to take a break from roleplaying for a little bit to practice some self-care. I am not certain how long I will be away, but I would love to continue with our story when I am back in the right headspace. Would you be alright with me contacting you again to pick it back up when I am doing better?
Pausing entirely is not always necessary; in the course of your discussion, you may discover that lowering the frequency of expected posts can work until things settle down. When possible, give a time-frame for the other person to expect, this generally helps the other party make a decision on how they feel about taking a break. When you do not have a time frame it would be polite to set reminders with yourself to check back with the partner occasionally to let them know you remember that they are waiting. Should you decide you want to make the pause a permanent goodbye, make sure you let your roleplay partner know - keeping them on standby indefinitely is inconsiderate.
It is important to keep in mind that not everyone can pick back up after a break. If you propose a pause, your partner is not obligated to agree to that arrangement. Sometimes, goodbye is the appropriate answer to that partnership. Make sure you keep this in mind going into the discussion and respect your partner’s decision if goodbye is what they choose.
During the course of your conversation, your roleplay partner may ask for feedback on what went wrong, beyond just your initial statement. You are not obligated to answer if you do not feel comfortable. Sometimes, if you have nothing nice to say it is better to say nothing at all. However, if there is constructive criticism you would like to provide it could be fruitful to provide that feedback.
Here are some things to keep in mind when providing feedback:
Be specific when giving feedback. Take these two pieces of feedback for example: - “The story needed a little more spice.” - With the character, Claire, it may be helpful to add a few flaws to her personality that would allow for character growth over the length of a story. Consider traits like selfishness or self-doubt and how they might affect a person’s response to a situation.
The second gives a lot more detail to help a writer identify a specific area of growth.
On that note, make feedback actionable. Notice how in the second example the writer is given something to consider. This helps the person to whom you are giving the feedback find ways to start improving.
Avoid personalizing the feedback by avoiding the word “you”. Instead of saying, “you wrote a boring character.” Say “Consider rounding out Claire’s character more by playing around with her backstory to make her a more dynamic character, perhaps add some struggle she needs to overcome to achieve her goal.”
If you can, also share feedback on something the other person has been doing well. This will soften the blow and make them more receptive to what you have to say.
Here is an example of feedback using all these tips:
I really like what you have done with your character Timothy, he has a really interesting back story involving his brother. I would suggest workshopping your character Claire a bit more. Consider adding a few flaws to her personality, this would allow more growth to her as a person over the course of the story. That being said, I like how Claire interacted in the section where she yelled at Timothy for touching her gear. That added a really cool dynamic to their relationship, maybe expanding on what led to that moment can help flesh out Claire’s personality more?
A second wind.
In the course of your conversation, changes may be made that breathe new life into your roleplay. This is great! Make sure, however, that you are genuinely excited about the new approach, and not just continuing to appease your partner. In cases where your story has been given a second wind, make sure you reiterate any agreements before restarting the story. This ensures that you are both in agreement on the steps you have agreed to take. For example, if you have agreed to add additional characters to the plot to liven things up, you should post something like the following:
Just to ensure we are on the same page, we have agreed to each add one character to the roleplay. You will be adding a young woman from the mage’s academy who is trying to get tenure. I will be adding a squire from the nearby castle who is trying to hide his magical abilities. Does that sound good to you?
If your discussion has led to new boundaries or expectations being set, I recommend reiterating all of your roleplay agreements at that time. For example:
Since we have altered the working agreements for our roleplay partnership, I just want to go over them all again to make sure we are on the same page:
Reply frequency will be at least once a week
No NSFW content, if there is intimacy we will fade to black
OOC conversations will be held in a separate chat
I strongly recommend that if the reason you considered ending the roleplay partnership is that the other person broke a clear boundary, that you do not restart this story. There are always exceptions, such as cases where it was a genuine misunderstanding. However, respecting boundaries is a vital part of a healthy roleplay partnership.
Blocking is your friend.
In some cases, your roleplay partner may not handle the perceived rejection well. If their language becomes vitriolic or abusive, you do not have to continue to subject yourself to being in contact with this individual. You owe your roleplay partner nothing and it is not your responsibility to ensure their happiness. When this happens, remember safety first. You can block an individual on whichever platform you are communicating on. You may reach out to moderators to inform them of the situation if you feel an escalation is necessary.
If you feel you are genuinely being threatened, do not hesitate to reach out to authorities. Your safety is paramount.
In a similar vein, it is important to respect a roleplay partner who is initiating an end of a story with you or who does not wish to continue with a story after a proposed pause. Occasionally you may reach out to form a new partnership, only to find the other person has no interest in starting one with you. Be patient and understanding where you can be. While it may be disappointing, everyone is entitled to their own desires and there are bound to be other better matches for you down the line. If you do not know what to say, or you do not trust yourself to respond, feel free to use this pre-written response in the case of rejection:
I appreciate your honesty and respect your decision. I wish you luck in your future roleplaying endeavors. Have a good rest of your day, goodbye.
It’s important to remember to not take rejection or the cancellation of a roleplay personally. There are often other forces at work and you do not know the whole story behind what is going on with your partner. Although it is disappointing to lose a great story, your best bet is to take their decision with grace. Just as you owe your partners nothing, they also do not owe you an explanation as to why they feel the need to bring the partnership to an end. Tell your partner that you understand and that while you are disappointed, you respect their decision and wish them luck.