How to Break Up With Someone (Without Being Awful)


Ugh, breaking up is so hard, right?! The yelling, the crying, the splitting up of your possessions, deciding who gets the dog -- double ugh! Sometimes it’s just better to skip the whole thing and let the relationship fade away, right? Wrong! Double wrong!

If you’re anything like me and have always had to fight women off with a stick that has a dagger taped on the end, you’ll know that ending a relationship doesn’t get any easier the longer you put it off. On the other hand, with the incredible change in technology that has occurred over the last 20 years, avoiding the breakup has gotten immensely easier. Why text your angry significant other back when you can just put your phone down and claim you never saw the text in the first place?

Because bad habits are doomed to spread like scabies unless you crush them at their source, we culled the master advice of psychotherapist and relationship expert Dr. Wendy Walsh to teach you how to break up like a champ.

Don’t ghost

This method, made popular by the recent breakup of Charlize Theron and Sean Penn, involves a meticulous fizzle of the relationship through the refusal to answer texts, phone calls, and smoke signals by the uninterested to the still-interested party. It’s a shitty thing to do, especially if you’re dating a hypochondriac.

However, Dr. Walsh thinks this act is okay under one condition: you haven’t gone on more than three dates with the person you’re seeing. So, married people: Don’t divorce your spouse via ghosting.

Send them a straightforward text

Again, don’t break up with someone via text message if you’ve been dating them for a long time. If you’re still in the one-to-three dates range and you’re just not feeling it, tell them with a text. It may seem tacky, but giving the person too much face-time is just dragging out the inevitable.

Try something along the lines of: “Hey, it was a pleasure to meet, I had a lovely time, but I don’t think romance is in the cards for us.”

Give them a phone call

If you’ve been dating for a few weeks and know in your mind’s eye that a breakup text would send them into a fit of rage and/or depression, just give them a call. Tell them exactly why you’re calling, don’t use passive language, and don’t overshare.

Keep it short and sweet(-ish)

The biggest mistake people make while breaking up is allowing the other person to argue your point. Tell them you don’t feel happy in the relationship and end it there. Dr. Walsh insists on keeping it short, as too much information allows the other person to find loopholes in your argument and protest all of your angles. Don’t give hurtful information along the lines of telling them their faults, because that’s not nice.

Talk to them face-to-face

Okay, so here’s the hard one. If you’ve been seriously dating someone for a few months or a few years, the only way to break up with them is with a face-to-face conversation. Yeesh. Sorry. It’s easier said than done to suggest just telling them you’re unhappy, but it’s something you need to do. Look them in the eye, tell them it’s not working, and go from there.

Unfriend, unfollow, block

Don’t stalk your ex on Facebook, don't favorite their tweets, and don't spend two hours work-shopping comments for that picture of Instagram from 2009. Just don’t do it! A University of Missouri study found that "Facebook users experience envy of the activities and lifestyles of their friends on Facebook [and] more likely to report feelings of depression.” Disengaging from your newly-acquired ex will help you get over them way quicker than you think, and vice versa. That's what you want. Right? Right?!

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Jeremy Glass is a writer for Thrillist and is currently writing this from inside a burning building. 

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