Ending a relationship is never easy. (Unless you’re Katie from the Bachelorette)
Whether you’ve been with someone for two weeks or two years, when it’s time to end it, it’s going to suck. But just because it isn’t a pleasant conversation, doesn’t mean it has to be a challenging one.
Far too often, breakups lead to long, messy arguments that spiral out of control, just because of some key failures to communicate. So, with that in mind, here are the five easy steps you’ll need to properly dump your (soon to be former) significant other
1. Have a strategy
Ben Franklin once said, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
And if you know anything about ole’ Ben, he was a freak. So, while that quote probably didn’t refer to this situation, it’s still perfectly germane.
You need to have a plan before you even tell the person you’d like “to talk.” That means you need to have your opening line, talking points, and exit strategy laid out in advance. The most common mistake in breakups is going in unprepared and rambling around your message.
First step is to think of a venue.
You want a place you can have an intimate conversation, but can leave at any point. The best places are coffee shops, bars, and the other person’s house. Don’t pick a sit-down restaurant or your place because you don’t want to sit through an entire dinner together for something like this and kicking them out of your place is much harder than standing up and leaving theirs.
My preference is a bar because it’s louder and both of you can have a libation for your efforts.
The second thing you need to know is why you’re dumping them in the first place.
Did they cheat on you or some other singular sin? If so, then you can really focus on that, but you better have a follow-up reason, or they could try to talk you out of it.
Or is it a collection of smaller issues? Do they say rude things to you offhandedly or have toxic personality traits? The cherry on top might be something as subtle as chewing too loudly and stealing the covers at night.
Or does the issue lie with you? That’s fine too, but you can’t use any cliches, especially “it’s not you it’s me.”
The only rule for this step is not to lie. Don’t make up an excuse, tell them why they warranted a dumping.
Whatever you say, though, make sure you have it in mind before the conversation.
2. Say you’re breaking up, first thing
You don’t want to build up to the breakup. It’s better to start with the worst news first.
If you start with your reasons for dumping them, you sound like you’re tearing them down unnecessarily. If you start with mealy mouth compliments, you’ll put them on edge and make the final breakup even worse.
After the normal pleasantries of “hey, how’s it going” and such, lay down your cards and tell them what the conversation is about.
Say “I’m breaking up with you” or “I think it’s best if we stop seeing each other” or “this hurts, but I need to end our relationship.” No matter how you phrase it, make sure you lead with it.
More than anything, you need to respect that you’re the one ending the relationship so, you can’t leave them hanging.
3. Say what you have prepared
This is why you make a strategy beforehand.
You don’t have to keep a list of reasons nearby, nor should you bring a script, but say what you need to say. They’ll appreciate that you’re being clear and direct, and it shows that you didn’t make this decision half-assedly.
4. Ask what they’d like to say and respond accordingly
Now for the worst part.
Just because you built an excellent strategy and painstakingly executed it, doesn’t mean you’re done. The biggest key to a successful breakup is respecting the other person (even if you’re mad and upset with them). That means they need a turn to speak too.
They should get the chance to refute what you’ve said and point out that you aren’t the best partner either. Maybe you flubbed one of your points and it pissed them off or upset them.
They also have every right to tell you to fuck yourself.
This is a bad conversation, no matter how well you do it, so you need to be prepared for what the other person has to say. And when they’re finished talking, you need to respond respectfully and as calmly as you can. Don’t turn the conversation into a fight, because that’s going to keep tempers high and complicate step 5.
If they respond with anger and insults, don’t return the favor. The goal of the conversation is to end the relationship, not win an argument. If they want more clarification, give it to them honestly.
No matter how they respond, give them a modicum of respect because this is going to be your lasting impression on them for a while.
5. End it quickly
The longer the conversation goes on, the more chances both of you will have to ruin a good idea. When it’s time to breakup, there’s no room to be wishy washy. Don’t allow for a lengthy back-and-forth because you’ll leave the impression that this is a debate, rather than a decision.
The quicker you’re out of there, the quicker both of you get some space and the opportunity to reflect, both of which are vital.
Ideally, the entire dumping procedure should take 30 minutes to an hour. After that, leave. That’s why you need to pay special attention to the venue.
Bonus rule: Don’t say you’d like to stay friends or try again later
A common mistake at the end of breakups is making promises you can’t (nor should) keep.
Don’t promise to stay friends because that leaves the impression that this breakup didn’t affect you enough. Trying to transition to a platonic relationship that quickly devalues the romantic relationship you’re leaving behind.
It also disrupts the recovery time both of you need. Take some time apart from each other. It’s healthier and gives you both a chance to organically form a friendship later.
And, under no circumstances, say that you might try the relationship again someday. That includes the classic line “if it’s meant to be, we’ll find our way back to each other.”
It completely undercuts everything you’ve said to that point. Why breakup at all if you’re just going to get back together when you’re a little older? The finality of the split is the entire point.
You’ll never be able to have a real friendship after that, either. No matter how long you stay “just friends,” the opportunity for more will hang over you both like a dark (unnecessary) cloud.
If you really want to breakup, do it with meaning.
Breaking up sucks, but it doesn’t have to ruin either of your lives. With a good plan, and some mutual respect, you can exit any relationship you need to.
So, go ahead, break some hearts and move on.