Breakups suck. A lot. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news… especially when it involves telling the person you once had feelings for (or maybe still have feelings for) that your relationship is over.
But unfortunately, breakups are a part of life. If you have to dump someone, here’s how to do it as painlessly as possible.
If you’re hanging out but not yet official
Maybe you finally worked up the courage to invite the cutie on your cross country team out for a post-practice Starbucks date, and the conversation was so awkward. Or maybe you’ve been Snapchatting with your crush for weeks, but when you started hanging out irl, there was no spark. You don’t have any romantic feelings toward them anymore, so how do you shut the situation down and move on? Ok, so you know ghosting them would be super uncool, but it’s not like you were officially dating or anything, so you don’t want to make a big deal out of ending things either.
If you’ve only hung out a couple times, you don’t need to formally break up. If the “relationship” only involved a couple hang-outs and a few cutesy Snapchats or some flirty texting, there’s no need to stress over crafting the perfect breakup speech. You can probably just let this one fizzle out naturally. Chances are good that if you didn’t feel a spark, neither did the other person.
Don’t ghost – drop hints. Fading out on someone by not responding to their texts and dodging them in the halls might seem like the simplest way out of a relationship, but having it done to you seriously sucks. Plus, if you ghost someone and then run into them at CVS or randomly bump into them in the hall, it’ll be painfully awkward for both of you. Instead of ghosting them, try dropping hints. If they invite you to a party, you can say, “Thanks, but I’m going with my friends. I’ll see you there.” Or the next time they chat you up in the halls, you can refer to them as a “friend” to let them know your true feelings.
If they don’t get the message, be frank with them. If they continue to ask you out after you’ve tried to express your lack of feelings, you need to tell them straight-up that you’re not interested: “Hey, I had a lot of fun hanging out with you, but I see you as a friend and don’t want to lead you on if you’re interested in something more.” Sometimes, honesty is exactly what the other person needs in order to move on.
Be your regular kind, polite self. The first time you see your not-bae after ending things, offer a friendly smile and wave. If you’re feeling brave, strike up a low-key but purely friendly conversation – like “How was your weekend?” or “What did you think of last night’s math homework?”
If you started dating recently
Your relationship is official in all senses of the word: you had the talk and dtr’d; you’re Facebook official; you’re always in each other’s Snap stories; you even posted an adorable Instagram of the two of you. But a few weeks, or months, down the road, there’s a gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach that’s keeping you up at night. You don’t have fun together the way you used to, or maybe your feelings are heading more in the friend zone, or you’re totally crushing on someone else. How do you break up?
Don’t try to force the other person to break up with you. Rather than instigating the breakup and being the “bad guy”, your first instinct might be to pick a fight or act out in an insensitive way, forcing the otherperson to dump you instead of the other way around. Don’t. The stress of fighting with bae and waiting for the inevitable breakup will make you feel worse in the long-run. Plus, it’s usually pretty obvious to the other person. Treat it like ripping off a Band-Aid and just get it over with.
Don’t do it over text. Sure, it might be tempting to just send a text or email, and avoid the awks of the other person potentially crying or getting upset in front of you. But as anyone who has ever been dumped via text knows, it’s seriously not cool. Breaking up in person is the most respectful way to the end the relationship. But if you’ve really only been dating for a few weeks (and, uh-oh, you just realized you made a huge mistake by making it Facebook official) and you guys hardly hang out in person anyway, a thoughtful phone call might be OK.
Find one clear-cut reason the relationship isn’t working out. If you’ve only been dating for a short while, you don’t need to go into a huge saga about what everything that went wrong. Be short and sweet: “I really liked hanging out with you, but I think we’re better off as friends,” or, “It hurt my feelings that you didn’t come to see my leading role in the school play. This is working anymore.”
Avoid talking about it with everyone afterward. If you tell everyone that your relationship was literally the worst thing since Zayn leaving One Direction, the gossip will eventually get back to your former bae. Breaking off a relationship doesn’t have to be a huge deal, but ruining their rep is. Think how you would feel if the roles were reversed. Keep in mind: Even if things didn’t work out with you guys romantically, you may end up wanting to be friends at some point.
If you’ve been dating for awhile
You two have so many amazing memories together – birthdays, Valentine’s Day, maybe even prom. You might have even been in love. Breaking up may feel awful at first, even if you’re the one doing the dumping, but you know it’s the right choice for both of you in the long run. Here’s how to pull the plug:
Have the conversation in-person. After all the time you spent together, you’d be heartbroken if you got dumped over text. (Remember when everyone thought Zayn broke up with Perrie over text? Not cool.) Give your S.O. the same courtesy you’d want to receive and let them have closure with an in-person conversation. If you can avoid breaking up on a special occasion – like on a holiday, birthday, or right before their big test or championship game – that’s the kindest, most considerate option.
Arrange a private time to talk. Emphasis on private. The best place to talk is one of your houses, preferably in a spot where your little brother won’t interrupt. If transportation is an issue (maybe you don’t drive), work out a plan with a friend, parent, or older sibling that allows you to make a smooth exit – like asking your BFF who has her license to drop you off at bae’s house, then wait outside till you’re ready to be driven home.
Imagine the conversation before you have it. Think through your talking points beforehand so you’re fully prepared for what can be a difficult conversation. Do you feel like you’re growing apart? Are you upset about a particular incident? Or is the pressure of a relationship getting to be too much? The more clearly you can organize your thoughts before you talk, the easier the conversation will be. You’ll be able to express yourself clearly, and hopefully bae will be able to accept your feelings.
Prepare for their reaction. They might get upset or ask you for a second chance at the relationship. If either of those things happen, how will you handle it? Are you willing to give the relationship another try? There’s no right or wrong answer here – it all comes down to how you really feel inside. Just a word of warning: If bae promises they’ll act better or differently in the future, don’t let yourself get talked into something you don’t want just to spare their feelings. Dragging it out longer when ultimately you know it’s not the right relationship for you will end up making it even worse when you finally do end things.
If you’re dating long-distance
You and bae had the best time together when you were living five minutes away from each other. But now that you’re miles apart, life is totally different. You know it’s probably time to end things, but ripping off the Band-Aid is just so logistically tough. How do you sit down for a major conversation when you’re not even physically in the same place?
Choose your timing carefully. If you’re high school sweethearts doing the long-distance thing in college, you might want to wait till you’re both back in your hometown to break the bad news. Dumping someone on Thanksgiving isn’t fun, but neither is dumping your first love while FaceTiming .
If you won’t have the chance to get together in-person for awhile, do it over the phone or video chat. Your s.o. will probably understand, especially if you won’t see each other for months and you’re dealing with hefty plane tickets. Video chat provides more of an emotional connection – at least that way, you can see each other’s faces when you dive into a difficult subject. But a phone call works to and feels more considerate than an email.
Acknowledge that distance might have played a factor in your decision to break up. If dating is like acting in your school play, long-distance is like performing on Broadway. It’s way more intense. No one would blame you for struggling to keep a long-distance relationship alive. Acknowledge that circumstances might have turned out differently if you weren’t long-distance, and that’s OK.