How to Break-Up Well

Breaking up can be hard to do, but it’s also important to do it well.

1. Do it in person.

Breaking up in person shows respect for your (former) significant other. Dating long-distance? Then break up over the phone or Skype. Never, ever break up over text or email. The person should hear it in your voice and have the opportunity to respond.

2. Do it for the right reasons.

Make sure you know why you’re breaking up. Maybe your values aren’t compatible. Maybe you’re both heading in different directions and want different things. Maybe you’re just not good for each other. Whatever your reason may be, make sure you can clearly communicate that reason when you break it off.

3. Be honest.

Breaking up often requires a degree of humility. You might need to take some of the blame for the relationship’s demise. You might need to apologize. You might have to say things that will make both of you uncomfortable. Don’t avoid the truth just because it hurts.

4. Listen.

If you’re initiating a breakup, anticipate that your partner will have something to say. She might have questions, accusations, insults or tears. He might respond with sadness, anger, confusion or a combination of all three. Even when you both see it coming, the actual breakup can surface a lot of emotions. Give the other party an opportunity to respond the way he/she needs to.

5. Be firm.

If you know that breaking up is the right thing to do, don’t let your partner’s reaction change your mind. Don’t second-guess the breakup. It will only be harder to make a clean break when you try to end things — for a second time — in the near future.

6. Don’t expect friendship.

It’s not fair to offer friendship to someone you’re breaking up with, nor is it realistic. Often friendship is extended as a way to make the person initiating the breakup feel less guilty about hurting the other person. Instead, it’s just keeping your ex on the hook, not letting them grieve the loss of a relationship. If you become friends in the future, great — but don’t ever expect it.

7. Take the high road.

No matter what the other person’s response to the breakup may be, don’t resort to name-calling, insults, or personal digs — in their presence or not. Don’t retaliate or trash-talk. Breakups are hard enough. Keep yours classy.

8. Make it a clean break.

You both need space and time apart. Don’t try to still live together. Don’t pretend to still be dating for the sake of a family member’s wedding, or continue using your couple’s membership at the zoo together. And don’t call your ex just because you miss talking to him/her at the end of the day. Recruit a friend who can help fill the talk-to-someone void in the immediate aftermath of a breakup. Leave your ex alone.