How to Break Up?

19 Aug

How to Break Up

Like the song says, "Breaking Up is Hard to Do." Sooner or later, you may find that you want to leave a relationship, and you’ll need to let the other person know. This article gives some suggestions to help you through the breakup.

1. Know for sure that you really do want to break up. If you are simply upset with your partner, you should consider talking about what upset you rather than ending the relationship.

2. Before having "the talk" that ends the relationship, think about the reasons you are breaking up. Your partner will ask you why you want out, and you should be prepared with answers. If you have trouble remembering examples during emotional discussions or arguments, write your reasons down in advance.

3. Plan out how long you are willing to spend "breaking up" and stick to your schedule. You may even want to arrange an appointment with a friend in a neutral location so that you can say "I’m supposed to meet John at the restaurant in fifteen minutes, so I have to go now."
4. Sit down with your partner and let him or her know that you need to have a serious talk. When asked "why?" or "about what?", simply respond that you’ve decided to end the relationship. Expect your partner to do any or all of the following:
  • Question — He or she will want to know why, and whether there was anything he or she could have done to prevent the breakup. Answer the questions as honestly as possible.
  • Cry — The other person will likely be upset, and it will show. It is okay to comfort him or her, but don’t allow yourself to be manipulated into changing your decision.
  • Argue — He or she may dispute anything you’ve said during the breakup, including examples you used in your reasons for breaking up. Don’t get dragged into a fight, and don’t split hairs. Let your partner know that arguing isn’t going to change your decision.
  • Bargain/Beg — He or she may offer to change, or to do things differently in order to preserve the relationship. If the person didn’t change when you’ve discussed your problems in the past, it is too late to expect him or her to truly change now.
  • Lash Out — Whether it’s as simple as saying "You’ll never find anyone as good as me" or as scary as saying "I’ll make you regret this", he or she is usually just trying to make himself or herself feel better.


  • Expect to spend at least one hour "breaking up", and longer if the relationship lasted a year or more.
  • If at all possible, break the news "on their turf," i.e. at his/her home. At least be somewhere that they feel comfortable. They’ll want to feel safe enough to cry/get angry/make a scene in general. While they might be willing to do these things at your place, making someone go home after getting news like that will make them more bitter.
  • Many people feel that it is poor etiquette to break up by phone, e-mail, or through an instant messenger system. It is easier to break up with someone if you don’t have to look the person in the eye, but you may lose the respect of your mutual friends if you take the easy way out.
  • If you are sure you want to break up with somebody, it is best done sooner rather than later. However, if your partner has had a particularly bad day already, you may want to consider waiting for a better moment. Breaking up with them when they are already down will make them feel awful.
  • While honesty is the best policy, you may want to soften the blow by avoiding sensitive issues (for example, most don’t want to hear "I’m breaking up with you because your breath smells" ). However, being too vague can cause the other person to become even more upset.
  • If at all possible, don’t disappear as a method of ending a relationship. It shows a lack of respect both for the person and the relationship you had.
  • Break up with him/her somewhere other than your house, workplace (etc.), because if you are over at their house, it is easy for you to leave, however if they are at your house, it could be tough to get rid of them.


  • Never threaten that you will break up with your partner. If you have problems or concerns, work through them or break up. Threats of any kind will only make the relationship worse.
  • Threats of physical harm are serious and should not be ignored. If you feel that your safety is at risk, contact the police as soon as it is safe to do so and request a restraining order.

We all know breaking up is hard to do. But unless you’re Ross and Rachel, or some teen romance turned happily-ever-after, breakups are an unavoidable part of our lives. And while it’s up to you to decide what your individual breakup style is, if you want to avoid future bad relationship karma, you’ll adopt a few breakup basics.
  1. Pick an appropriate place. The less public, the better. Remember, ending a relationship is a humbling experience. Don’t do it in a place where the person on the receiving end is going to feel more vulnerable than necessary.
  2. Choose the right time. Avoid holidays and special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries at all costs. Do you really want your ex remembering your insensitivity every time that day rolls around?
  3. Do it in person. If the relationship is relatively new, maybe you can get away breaking up over the phone. But come on, if you’ve been out on more than a handful of dates, isn’t that kind of harsh?
  4. Be honest but sensitive. No one likes to get dumped. But we at least appreciate the truth when it’s over. Unless, of course, the truth is you’ve stopped finding him/her attractive, you’ve met someone better, or that you’re just plain bored with the relationship.
  5. Keep your emotions in check. Don’t seem too happy about the breakup: you’ll come off as mean-spirited. Just be kind, caring, and considerate. If you must, you can high five your friends later.
  6. Don’t react. Some people don’t handle rejection well. Some people yell, scream, cry. Yes, that sucks. But it doesn’t mean you should react to their meltdown. Remember, rejection is tough. You’ve already got the upper hand by being the dumper. Let the dumpee behave ridiculously if they choose to. And if their tantrum escalates, get the heck out of there.
  • Many people feel that it is poor etiquette to break up by phone, e-mail, or through an instant messenger system. It is easier to break up with someone if you don’t have to look the person in the eye, but you may lose the respect of your mutual friends if you take the easy way out.
  • If you handle yourself well during the breakup, chances are you’ll avoid any hard feelings with your ex. And while that may not seem so important at the time, it’s vital to your future relationship karma!
  • The term "break-up" implies a hard stop. But, often, a break-up is really a change in the nature of a relationship, where friendship remains, but a closer physical connection, and a desire to build a life together, is taken away. Try to look at breaking up in a more positive way, and see how it can transform your relationship.
  • Think about why you want to break up with them (e.g., you may suspect/hear rumors that they are cheating on you). Ask them FIRST. Everybody hates when you break up with them for a reason that isn’t even true.
  • Think about how maybe if you want out, they might too. Ask them where they think it’s going. If something is making being together painful, tell them that being together is hurting you (e.g., long-distance relationships).
  • Although it says above pick a private place, this can sometimes lead to emotional conversations that end in sex and another miserable month of "trying to make it work". If it’s really over (see warning one), meet in a quiet public place local to the other person for a drink or a coffee. Tell them straight away and succinctly that the reason you’re here is to say its over and why – be honest, give the true reason e.g. nothing you do will make up for the fact that you slept with someone else/the fact that you weren’t there to pick me up from the hospital after my operation was the last straw, i need someone more dependable etc. Then leave money on the table to cover both drinks and leave. Do not cry until you’re far away. Do not call them AT ALL and do not pick up their calls, preferably forever but at least not for two weeks – this helps to get some distance. Don’t listen to their drunken answerphone messages, press delete when you hear their voice. Heal yourself : go out, shop, see movies etc. Find someone new!
  • Weigh in carefully on your decision to break up, without analyzing it to death. Is this really what your heart wants? You may not be able to reverse your decision once it’s made, and you may burn bridges in the process. Could you forgive yourself if you broke up with the man/woman of your dreams?
  • Avoid cliches. If the person has heard it before, it may come off as insensitive.

Breakup Ground Rules


Breakups aren’t just upsetting — sometimes they can literally turn your life upside down. It’s hard to eat; it’s hard to sleep; and it’s hard to think clearly. In this excerpt from her book, A Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Over Him, author Sandra Ann Miller lays down the law for the brokenhearted. She has created 10 essential ground rules to prevent the recently jilted from making the most common breakup mistakes. So if you’re puffy-eyed and couch-bound (or know someone who is) print out these ground rules immediately. Read them, repeat them and live by them until he’s totally out of your system — and trust us, eventually, he will be!

Before we go any further, you need to make some promises to yourself. Raise your hand and repeat after me…

I, (state your name), do, hereby, solemnly swear that I will not behave in the manner of a crazy ex-girlfriend. I will not participate in foolish or destructive behavior. I promise to act in a dignified fashion and that means I will not do stupid things, no matter how I might rationalize them. Therefore, I vow the following:

  • I will not call him. No matter what good or bad news I think he should hear only from me, I will not call him. Even if I am convinced it will make me feel better, I will not call him. I will not call him even to get my stuff. I’ll have a friend do that, preferably via email.
  • I will not email him. Not even an innocent and rather funny group email forward. I will not email him simply to give him back his stuff. I will not contact him at all.
  • I will not frequent the places I know he goes to, even if I went there first and like it better. I acknowledge that this is not a pissing contest about territory. I know going to such places will hurt more than it will help. Until there has been some space and time between us, going to those places is asinine, can be viewed as stalker-ish and will be painful only to me.
  • I will not encourage or allow friends to do anything foolhardy, even with my best interest at heart. That includes talking to him when they see him in public to let him know he is a jerk and he’ll never do better than me, or to share that I am looking fabulous, got a promotion, bought a new house and am dating George Clooney (or the regional equivalent thereof).
  • I will screen all of my calls. I will get caller ID, if necessary, and put "private call block" on my phone. I will not answer the phone unless I know who it is and am sure it’s not him. All other calls will go to voicemail.
  • will not take his phone calls. I repeat, I will not take his calls.
  • I will not return his phone calls or emails. If he is "just checking" to see how I am, I know he is really just checking to see if I think he’s a jackass. He is looking for an ego stroke, not to get back together, and I know this because he did not start out the communication with, "I am sorry. I made a mistake. I want us to get back together."
  • I will not look for signs that we will get back together. This includes asking the Magic-8 Ball or tarot card readers and the like. The only professional guidance I will seek will be that of a licensed therapist or member of the clergy.
  • I will not believe this is temporary. I will see this as permanent until proven otherwise by concrete actions, immense apologies and couple’s therapy.
  • I will not hide under a rock, be humiliated or ashamed that this relationship ended. For all I know, this could be the best thing that ever happened to me. And I believe the wonderful stuff I deserve is on its way.

      I promise to abide by these vows for at least thirty (30) days, or until I have gotten over him, whichever is longer. This is about me feeling better and that has nothing to do with him.

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      Posted by on August 19, 2007 in Relationship


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