Breaking up: The dos and don'ts of calling it quits
DO break up in person
... if it’s someone you care about.
“Obviously don’t do it over the phone, by text, or by email. Talk to the person face-to-face and be honest but decent,” says Rob, 34, from Chicago.
DO prepare what you’ll say
... in advance of the breakup conversation.
“Write the mental script,” advises Mike, 31, from Los Angeles. By planning the conversation ahead of time, you’ll be less anxious and more emotionally equipped to end the relationship.
DO tell the truth
... about why you want to break up.
You might be tempted to sugarcoat, but the best approach is honesty. “He has a right to know what went wrong in the relationship,” says Laura Berman, sex therapist and author of Book of Love. “Don’t leave him guessing or assuming the worst.”
But DON’T delve
... into every relationship issue.
Practice self-censorship, says Berman. “Don’t provide gory details. He doesn’t need to know that you have an eye on your cute co-worker or that you are eager to get back on the dating circuit.”
DON’T break her heart
... while under the influence.
“He was young and cute, and it wasn’t a relationship that was going anywhere,” says Sara, 32, from Evanston, Ill. “After a night of drinking, I decided it was time to call it quits. He begged to stay the night, and because I was also drunk, I obliged. The next morning he rolled over and looked lovingly at me, and I realized he didn’t remember the night before. No one likes having to break up with someone, but having to do it twice? The lesson learned was to never break up while intoxicated.”
DON’T give him false hope
... that things could work out in the future.
It might seem like you’re softening the blow, but it only prolongs the pain to say things could change. “I’ve fallen victim to the ‘now is just not a good time for me to be in a relationship’ bit,” says Carly, 30, from Green Bay, Wis. “It’s never a clean break when the dumpee thinks the dumper just needs a little time to come around.”
DO try to end on good terms
... but DON’T expect closure.
“Just walk away,” says Kelsey, 30, from San Francisco. “Closure is not always possible, and even if you seek it, you may never get it. Also, it’s always good to make sure you keep those rose-colored glasses at bay in the weeks after a breakup.”
DON’T stay in touch
…at least, not right after your breakup.
“A breakup is a breakup. Don’t try to contact him out of pity or to ‘check up’ on him, even if you feel a twinge of jealousy when you see him with someone new,” says Berman. “Move forward and give each other room to heal in peace.”
DON’T break up
... and make up.
“Be wary about getting back together after breaking up,” says Stacy, 31, from Chicago. “In many cases—though not all—you end up breaking up again for the very same reason as the first time.” Make sure you’re ending the relationship for the right reasons, and then move on to a new one.
DON’T shine a spotlight
... on the breakup.
“If you have mutual friends, refrain from sharing personal information or from making people choose sides,” says Berman. “Avoid posting such information on Facebook as well. Remember: Breakups are bad enough without the whole world watching.”