Food & Drink

The Art of Breaking Up with Someone in a Bar

Mark Yocca / Supercall

Breaking up with someone is never pain-free for either party. While it would be easier to send the “IT’S OVER” message via G-chat, hiring a skywriter, or sending a fireman strip-o-gram to do your bidding, there’s just no substitution for doing it in person. Whether you’ve been dating for a week or two years, you owe your soon-to-be-ex a face-to-face conversation. And the best place to do that? The bar.

But it’s not as simple as a quick “goodbye” and a brisk handshake. Breaking up at a bar requires respect and finesse. From monitoring how much you drink to having a clear exit strategy, here is our advice on mastering the art of breaking up with someone in a bar.

Alcohol Helps, But Don’t Over Do It

While a stiff pour of bourbon will help loosen your tongue into saying, “I think we should break up,” there is a fine line between too many drinks and just the right amount. One too many double pours of liquid courage and you’re divulging information that needn’t be brought up (i.e. “You’re a lousy lover and your mom’s meatloaf tastes like dirt,” or “I hate your massages and I never liked your dumb cat.”). A lack of sobriety could also lead to you receiving a slap in the face, getting a glass of red wine splashed onto your nice white shirt, or you could even get kicked out of the bar. Remember to pace yourself. Your focus should be on ending the relationship, not on how many whiskies can you toss back.

Don't Break Up At Your Regular Neighborhood Bar

If you’re planning on dumping someone, steer clear of the bar where everybody knows your name. Not only will you have to deal with seeing everyone again the next time you come by (and field question after question about what went down), but, if things take a turn for the worst, you might wind up getting 86’ed from your go-to watering hole. Take your future-ex to an OK bar that is easy for both of you to get to—but not one of your usual haunts. Then never breakup at that bar again.

Don’t Go to a Crowded Bar, Especially Not on a Friday or Saturday Night

It is important to find a place where you can have a one-on-one conversation without drunken bros or bachelorettes falling into your laps, or having to yell over the din of a busy bar. If you opt for a hot spot on a Saturday night, you’ll find yourself fighting for a space to sit down, waiting a painful 30 minutes for your drinks, and constantly screaming “WHAT?!” at each other.

Don’t Drive Together (Don’t Drive It All if You Can Help It)

The last thing you want to do after breaking up is drive your ex home. No playlist in the world is good enough to make up for that level of awkward silence. So drive separately or, if possible, take a cab, summon a Lyft or use public transportation. That way, you can treat yourself to a nightcap (or three) at a different bar after you both go your separate ways.

Don’t Involve the Bartender

Your bartender does not want to be the third-wheel in your breakup. Buy your drinks and go sit at a table where the two of you can be alone. If you need to talk after the deed is done and your ex leaves, feel free to pull up a stool and regale your bartender with your stories of woe. If you’re respectful about it, your bartender might even treat you to a round.

Carry Cash

It is crucial to keep a tally on how much you spend in case you need to bail at any time. Even if this is the smoothest breakup in history, the last thing either of you wants to do is patiently wait for the check. Have enough cash on hand to pay for both of your drinks and plan on leaving a larger tip than you usually do.

Have an Exit Plan

Where is the nearest subway? Bus stop? Police station? Part of planning a successful bar breakup is choosing a bar that has multiple escape routes. Not only will that knowledge help you if things get ugly, but also, if you do happen to stay out and drink, you’re going to want a quick, safe getaway back to the comfort of your home. Equally important is knowing what you plan to say to your partner. Because you can’t have that nightcap until you’ve successfully and civilly broken things off.