How to Break Up

The End of a Dating Relationship

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 show 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, social media, or email. Consider the time and location. Be courageous and respectful and have your conversation in person and in private.

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 you're upset, rather than just ending the relationship. Sometimes it feels easier to run from the relationship, when in reality 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.

15 Dos and Don'ts When Breaking Up

  • 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.
  • 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 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.

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...Be honest and sensitive.

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.

The fact that you are reading this blog shows that you care enough to do this the right way and want to be as compassionate as possible. I commend you for that. When handling any sensitive situation, it is helpful to think about approaching the conversation with these words: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These words are called the Fruit of the Spirit in the Bible.  They describe the essence of God, and that is always a good place to start.

If you're struggling to get through a difficult breakup, you might want to read my blog about Getting Over A Broken Heart for some additional thoughts.

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67 comments on “How to Break Up”

  1. My name is Jeanette. Several months ago I became involved with a married man, Carlton. We both decided to divorce our spouses and be together. We fell in love in a beautiful place the setting was perfect. I have discovered that I do not want to leave my husband, Bill. Bill and i have been married for so many years that he is comfortable to me. Besides, Bill would never cheat on me or hurt me in any manner. I miss Bill. Bill is not in good health and I want to spend our remaining time together. I do not want to hurt Carlton. I appreciate all the time and attention Carlton has shown me but I do not love Carlton. Carlton and I got caught up in this affair. Please help me to know how to tell Carlton I want out of our relationship. I don’t want to talk with Carlton about the problem I am wanting to end our affair. I am close to my sister, Judy and cannot bring myself to tell even her. Judy and Carlton are best friends. I want Carlton to realize how much he misses his wife and return to her. I know he still loves her. I want a clean break. I want for the breakup to be Carlton’s idea so I may put on a heartbroken act and beg for him to stay with me. But I do not want to stay with Carlton. Help me. Neither of us could ever trust each other since we are both cheaters. Bill wants me back, unconditionally. I know Bill loves me and I want to be with him. I am sorry Carlton and I hurt people.It was not right for us to hurt others.I will never trust Carlton. I want him to go away. What can I do? Please tell me how to let this be Carlton’s idea, so he saves face. I WANT OUT. I absolutely believe Carlton wishes to return to his wife. And I WANT TO GO BACK TO BILL. Help me. I want Carlton to go away. I do not see how his wife lived him so much and had difficulty letting him go. He is nasty. I want him gone and the sooner the better. He needs to gi back to his wife and leave me alone. Yes, I am a coward. I want Carlton to dump me. I'll cry and put on an act and return happily to Bill.

  2. I don’t know what to do. My ex girlfriend (we’re lesbians) and I had been together for 6months it would’ve been 7 on Valentine’s Day. The last time we saw each other we were planning a vacation at her request and talking about doing promise rings for Valentine’s Day and an engagement over our summer trip. She has anxiety and cuts off everyone, even her family, when she doesn’t feel in control. She doesn’t like people to see her struggling and feels ashamed to reach out. I felt her becoming distant and when I asked she said she was fine and reassured me by calling and making plans with me. A week later she stopped communicating with me and deactivated her social media. One week went by without a message from her, so I sent her a text telling her I love her, I want to be here for her, that we can work on whatever is wrong together, and that she isn’t alone as I have issues with anxiety and depression too. She responded apologizing for making me feel so hurt and sad and said I didn’t deserve the things she put me through. She kept saying I was beautiful and that we were perfect but she kept saying I deserved better and how sorry she was. She told me she had no energy and she broke up with me. We stopped talking for a week but then started again with just friendly conversations. She got all upset once when I gave a short, late response because I was having a bad day. She said “I thought we were chill and we chatted what’s wrong?” When I apologized she said she was sorry for being “hypersensitive.” It’s odd because she broke up with me, why would she care how or when I respond? Then a few weeks later she texted me on Valentine’s Day which hurt me deeply. I ignored it for a bit and then just decided to respond to a previous message she sent me. A few days later I apologize for not wishing her a happy holiday and then that night I blocked her for no reason. I’m ashamed of what I did I regretted it because I want her in my life. I’ve since added her back, but I didn’t say anything, I was too scared. She hasn’t added me back and we haven’t spoken in two weeks. I feel awful and confused. She truly is the love of my life, I would marry her in a second but I’m afraid I’ll never get her back. She needs to work on her coping mechanisms with anxiety and depression, she isn’t perfect, but I want her anyway and o have my own things to fix. I don’t know what to do.

  3. I can't cope with the pain of my break up. Can't eat or sleep, I feel depressed. Can't sleep without sleeping pills or wine. And to make things worse I think I’m getting addicted to them. How can I make myself feel better and sleep better?

    1. Dear Allison, you are feeling alone scared and unloved. If you initiated the break-up, there may be feelings of guilt or doubts that it was wise. Everyone knows this is normal but most people going through a break-up will avoid the internal, very personal message and lesson that is begging for your attention. My advice (I am 58 and my own “break-up”is recently losing my beautiful husband of 37 years to a motorcycle crash) is to write him a letter in a notebook ( not on your phone) every day like a diary. One page a day for as long as it takes to cleanse your heart. In the letter express all your sorrows, regrets, anger, disappointments, wishes and hopes along with memories you will treasure and the positive gifts you learned from one another. When you have completed the page for the day, at the bottom, write, “I give my troubles to the Holy Spirit to show me what I am missing”. Then say in your heart “Thank you”. Then turn the page for the next day. In a very short time - like two weeks- the valuable lessons and gifts you have given and gained from sharing your life with this man will become very clear to you. Many times for women it is the lesson to improve yourself by doing and deliberately striving to be the ideal person you want to become and be remembered for by others. There are always beautiful gifts on the other side of good-bye. God bless you honey.
      p.s. Try a natural supplement called Melatonin for deep healing sleep. More is not better start at 1.5 mg 1 hour before bed .

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