Dawson’s Blog

How to Break Up

How To Break Up: 16 Do’s and Don’tsbreak up help

One of the most painful experiences in life is the ending of a meaningful relationship, especially where there has been a romance. People who call my radio shows always tell me stories about really heart-breaking endings to their relationships. Wouldn’t it be amazing if somebody were to say, “My bf/gf treated me so well when we were breaking up, I couldn’t help but respect him/her!”

But unfortunately, the end of a dating relationship is often full of deception, dishonesty, and disrespect. But it doesn’t have to be this way. When you are breaking up with someone, for whatever reason, the best approach is to treat the other person the same way you would want to be treated.

Still, one thing is for sure. No matter how hard you try to be kind, the fact that you want to break up is going to hurt the other person. This is not something to do over the phone, via text messaging, IM, or email. Consider the time and location. Be courageous and respectful and have your conversation in person and in private.


Related Posts:
How To Find A Meaningful Relationship
4 Ways To Avoid Heartbreak
8 Signs Your Relationship Is Unhealthy


Before you do anything, make sure you really do want to break up. If you’re just angry at your bf/gf, you may want to talk about why yGuy and Girl fightingou’re upset, rather than just ending the relationship. Sometimes it feels easier to run from the relationship, when there may be a great lesson to learn from a challenging situation.
Be prepared for the other person to ask why you’re breaking up with him/her. You might want to write down some of your thoughts beforehand. If you’re breaking up because of difficulties you’ve had with the relationship in the past, it’ll be easier if you’ve already talked through them, and given the other person an opportunity to respond.

Here are some more dos and don’ts when breaking up with someone:

  • Don’t have a friend break up for you.
  • Don’t ignore your ex and expect that person to understand.
  • Never text a good-bye.
  • Don’t announce it on social media.
  • Don’t make your reasons complicated.
  • Be direct, but kind.
  • Don’t say something mean about the other person, especially if you want to remain friends.Don't break up via text
  • In time, if possible, make every attempt to be friends after you break up.
  • Don’t say let’s just be friends (you may be friends again, but it takes time for the relationship to heal).
  • Answer their questions as honestly and kindly as possible.
  • Don’t say, It’s not you, it’s me.
  • Understand that the other person is going to be very hurt, confused and possibly angry.
  • Don’t go blabbing to other people about the break-up. Save your experience for a few trusted friends.
  • Don’t break up unless you know for sure it’s final. The breaking up and then getting back together again cycle breeds mistrust.
  • Wait some time before you start dating someone else, especially if you see your former bf/gf often. Consider Brittini’s story: After the last relationship when I broke up with my boyfriend, the week later he was asking my friend if she would go out with him! That made me so mad that the next time I saw him I just wanted to hurt him and her.
  • Don’t try to talk your bf/gf out of their decision. Blue Grace’s advice is valuable: My beau of just over 4 yrs. broke up with me last Valentine’s Day in what he later called “a defensive, reactive” moment – completely unexpected by either of us. I tried to talk him out of it for over an hour to no avail. Ladies, please DON’T do this. If he’s gonna break up with you, let him. If he’s wrong, truly loves you, and is a real man, he will come back for you. Do not chase him. It only leads to a more shattered heart.

Breaking up is hard. There’s no getting around that. Just listen to Kate, who said: I just broke up with my boyfriend of 6 months last week. I know 6 months isn’t that long, but I would drive 74 miles (one way) to see him, sometimes several times a week. He never came to see me. He also told me that he didn’t love me and he never would. Instead of breaking it off and trying to heal myself like a normal person, I would do just about anything to keep the relationship going. I can’t live without him and my heart is genuinely broken. I know God is the only one who can fill the hole in my heart.

If you use honesty, compassion and sensitivity, you’ll both be better off in the end.  Treat him or her with the same respect you’d like someone to treat your future husband/wife. If you’re struggling to get through a difficult break up, you might want to read my blog about Getting Over A Broken Heart for some additional thoughts.

Do you have any tips on how to break up with someone in a healthy and respectful way?  Please comment with your ideas in the discussion.

For more information on how to understand why you are making the dating choices you are and how to make better ones, check out TheHopeLine’s eBook: Understanding Dating.

Dawson McAllister Dawson McAllister (born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania) is an American speaker, radio host, and author. He is the founder of Dawson McAllister Association and TheHopeLine and host of the national radio program Dawson McAllister Live, which is aired on Sunday nights. Dawson has been speaking to and in support of teenagers and young adults for over 40 years.
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  • TheHopeLine

    Hi Aaron, I’m so sorry she chose to break up with you in public like this. No one deserves to be treated like this. Thank you for posting this for others to see and think about the implications of breaking up with someone like this in public. Hang in there! We care about you and we’re here if you ever need to talk to us.

  • Nos

    I did exactly the opposite of what you said we should do in this situation. I’m in trouble.

  • TheJustOne

    Yeah, when the jerk won’t answer his phone, all you can do is text a good-bye. Not that he deserves even that much attention. Just move on and leave him to his sad, lonely life.

  • Sounds like it might help to talk to someone about it. Don’t ignore your feelings. We are here for you 24/7 https://www.thehopeline.com/gethelp/

  • Kara Russanne

    Dear Jason Porter,

    Your story is very similar to mine. I had an unorthodox and long distance relationship too. It only lasted for 7 months. I knew that it would not work from the beginning, but I could not help myself. I felt that I had met the person who I would be with for the rest of my life.

    The more I got closer with him, the more I moved farther from my family and God. They were very disappointed in me and I knew that I was headed for a painful and terrible end. I knew that before we got any more serious, I had to break up with him.

    My mentors advised that I could not hold on to him and at the same time maintain my relationship with God; that like you, I have made him the center of my life, instead of keeping God there. I could only choose one or the either. I chose my Savior and I broke up with my boyfriend.

    It was very painful and difficult to explain my reasons to him. He became very angry and hurt at me and at God because I was honest with him. He did not want to let me go right away. I treated him the way I wanted to be treated after a break up. Although it was very hard, I stayed as a friend until his habit to talking to me gradually lessened. I understood that he needed to heal.

    After some time, he started dating another lady. He told me about it months after he was already in a new relationship. He said he still wanted to be friends but I decided to stay away because I too needed healing and I wanted to honor the new woman in his life. It’s not true that you move on faster if you’re the one who broke up the relationship. 🙂

    It has been 7 years already since we broke up. We have not spoken to each other since. I do not regret breaking up with him though. Although, I still walk through life with a scar of that hole in my heart. Reading your post and being reminded of what happened to me, made me sad for the suffering I’ve experienced for being far away from God for a time; grateful that God gave me a second chance to develop a stronger relationship with my Savior; and thankful that God continues to heal me underneath the scars.

    Jason, you talk about her with such respect and honor. Thank you for treating her that way and for writing your advise and post.

    God has planned many good things for you. He will…always.

  • SweetAngel

    You are not a bad person. You are not responsible for someone else’s reaction. He’s reacting like a child. Of course he’s hurt, but it’s not very respectful to say mean things about you if he truly loved you. That is the reaction of a person who is emotionally immature. They act like a 5 year old who had their favorite toy removed. Ultimately, is this the kind of person you want to, or even can build a future with? I say this because I have been with such men. He probably used emotional manipulation within the relationship – i.e. I can’t say this to him because he will blow up, or get mean, etc.

    • rogues2

      I’m sorry, no. Sometimes you are responsible and things you do affect other people negatively. You should apologize to him and make it clear its something you no longer want, but accept the fact that what you did probably did hurt him.

  • SweetAngel

    I’ve been exactly where you were when you wrote this. It’s unfortunate, but we all fall for it, myself included. Things are so hot and heavy early on, the connection is there, the chemistry. He can’t wait to be with you and you feel the same. Then it cools off over time. And you spend much of the relationship trying to get it back. But it never ends up working. Some men are simply like this, plain and simple. They live for the thrill and when it’s no longer new, or becomes “routine” (which ironically is what is so comforting about a solid relationship) they lose interest. There is NOTHING you can do to fix the situation, or him. It’s taken me a long time to learn that. This is TYPE of man. Not all men are like this. Many are, but not all. The thing we women have to learn is to be able to enjoy that thrilling early part, but not get so caught up in it that we mistake it for love. We have to wait until the cooling off period. Because THAT is when you find out exactly what kind of man he truly is.

  • Yousuf Sameed

    My girlfriend of 4 years broke up with me because somewhere along the way she got bored of me. I feel like i waster all my future and life on her.

  • Jo Jay

    Your story so so similar to mine! I just wanted to check up and see if the pain ever goes away…me and my ex broke up yesterday and I feel awful! I told him I thought we should end things and I really think I made the right decision but he agreed!!!!! I feel as though he was talking to someone else and didn’t like me anymore and just didn’t want to tell me bc he’s such a nice person. I miss him so much and when I told him we should stop talking he almost seemed excited?!?! I did it over a text bc I tried to do it in person but he just ignored it after I said it. Idk what to do bc I’m so sad, this feeling is awful and I really want to text him even though I know that’s a no no

  • Heartbroken

    My boyfriend broke up with me via Facebook messenger on Tuesday. He kept apologizing and saying he was sorry. He even asked me not to be mad. He said that he was broken and could never Love again. He was in a terrible relationship and his ex drained him. We had a long distance relationship and he would text me every morning “good morning beautiful hope you have a good day” he made it a point to call me when he left work on his way home which took an hour. Every night he would call right before he went to bed and always ended with a good night sweet dreams. For Christmas he stressed out on what to buy me. He finally asked his only daughter for help. She even told me that I see why my dad likes you so much you’re always thinking about everyone else. For the first time he opened up to her and about us. So you can understand my confusion as to why he ended the way he did. So of course he wouldn’t talk to me over the phone or face to face. He kept saying I’m sorry and please. So I asked his daughter for advice and she told me I deserved to get answers face to face. So I went to where he lived 2 hours away his daughter was there and told me where to park and as I was walking up he pulled in and got angry and was refusing to talk to me. I made him talk to me and he wouldn’t look me in the eyes. He was saying things like I can’t believe you did this I told him he needed to tell me to my face. Needless to say he was beyond furious and then insulted me with that I was crazy and stalking him. I proceeded to say that I only wanted closure and he needed to be a man. He kept saying he was sorry and I said good bye. I believe he was more furious at the fact that his daughter helped me. She told me as I cried my eyes out that “he is a great man and that she knows he didn’t mean anything by the insults she said that her mother whom she hates has made him feel unworthy of true love” but I will leave it in gods hands and she refused to cut ties with me.

  • ShinShin

    I have been broken up with my girlfriend for about a month now and I am still trying to wrap my head around everything that happened. It was a whirlwind and I feel like I am still trying to catch up from everything that happened.

    We had been fighting for a little while and the week prior. Then at one point during the fight she insulted not only career and one my passions of life. I will also say recently I said/did something that hurt her, probably a week or two before. It wasn’t cheating on her or anything like that, but it was not well thought out. The fight ended we both found a way to make it possible to go to her family’s Christmas party. On the way home she said that she wished she was important to me. Now mind you I had just bought a house, luckily not in both of our names, but she helped me layout the house (furniture), pick the carpet, pick the appliances, pick all new paint, and then moved in with me. I said that to her and I was taken back as if she had forgotten everything we had done. On top of that since we had been together I paid for part of her trip to Haiti for charity, helped connect her with friends so she could get into Disney, helped her by connecting her to my dad who helped her find a new job, and then helped her pay of her student loans and save up almost 2k. I could not fathom the idea that she was not important to me. I didn’t hold these things over her head because that would be awful, but looking back on it I can’t make sense of it. It felt like it was all forgotten.

    Then Christmas eve rolls around and she picks a fight with me because I didn’t have my phone on me and I went to my family’s Christmas party and didn’t respond immediately. I told her Merry Christmas, but I was going to mass with my family. Which she continued to come after me via text message. Then later apologized to me because she was cold. The following day, Christmas day she texted me twice one Merry Christmas and the other don’t ignore it is Christmas. I haven’t even seen my phone yet. I told her Merry Christmas go spend time with her family she hardly gets to see. She told me she wanted to talk to me and hear how I was doing. I told her I didn’t want to talk about this right now could we talk later. She proceeded to ask me if I was breaking up with her, which I had to call her and tell her to calm down. All on Christmas day and my family is watching this happen. I then said a very dumb thing during the phone call, I missed her some. It was an awful thing. I felt bad and knew it was bad. We didn’t talk for two days and then I told her I was burned out. I needed some space to think about everything that was going down. I didn’t hear from her all day until I got home from the movies. Five texts messages, two missed phone calls, and a Facebook message. I called her back and listed everything off that was going wrong and that I didn’t feel like we were close anymore or best friends (mind you there were other things outside of this fight). I wanted for her and I to talk when she got back from being with her family on Christmas.

    Two days later I get a text message “I have been doing some thinking myself and I need to tell you, can I call or text you”. Well I proceeded to text her back “you can text me, but I cannot guarantee you I will respond”. Well about an hour later I get a break up text “I don’t know if you remember what was on my mirror in my apartment, but I would never beg for someones love again. You don’t love me anymore, but you should. You should not have cut me out the way you did when you knew I was hurting and you have said some awful things”. All I could think to myself is that I asked for some space, I couldn’t guarantee that we weren’t going to break up to her, but I didn’t say I didn’t love her. I was reeling from all of it and text her the following morning and she asked me “why did I stop loving her”, “I said I didn’t I will always love you whether we are together or apart”, “well you were going to kick me out of the house”, ” I was never going to do that. If we were going to get to this point I was going to let you stay in the house until you found a new home. I would stay with my parents until you were out”. Now mind you that is short ended part of the conversation, but I even told her she was nice and sweet and I hoped she found what she was looking for. I asked if we could meet face to face to talk, but I couldn’t handle it. We met face to face on New Years eve and I went through all the stuff, tried to create and action plan, but she told me she couldn’t get over some of the things I said “I’m not your best friend”, “We needed to talk about other things than work”. So I was left standing there thinking holy crap I got broken up with via text message and there was no coming back, I have effectively lost a group of friends because I don’t know what was said, and I just feel awful because it feels like a rug was yanked out from underneath me.

    I feel like a bad person because I got told I was one more more less for not showing enough love. I am worried that I am at the point of just finding relationships that have no structure or I cannot be the emotional well that needs to satisfy a person. I am just worried and I have had people tell me it is going to be okay and I am not a bad person, but man I cannot wrap my head around this. I got told I was her best friend just two days before and remember all the good times and wham.

  • Brad Harrison

    So I’ve been with my recent girlfriend for almost 4 months now. I love her so much and she loves me too. But I’m having problems with my mind. You see, as of March last year, my girlfriend at the time and I had broken up. We were together for two whole years and loved each other so very much. I went into a terrible depression for about eight months and it was only worsened when I found that 4 weeks after we broke up she had gotten with a once friend of mine. I was devastated and even more heart broken. To this day I still have these random moments where I think about my past but I don’t do it on purpose. I’m with my new girlfriend now and I should only be thinking about her and not my past. Idk what I should do and how I can finally just let go of my past.